“What’s a next step?” is the question that makes the plan real.
I knew I wanted to become a capable and confident speaker in my field. I knew I wanted opportunities to speak on leadership and change and the kind of organizational cultures that never stop learning how to be better at both.
I wanted to speak at conferences, inside organizations, in higher education, anywhere there was a curiosity to explore these ideas and the many questions that surround them.
I saw myself in the front of the room and on the stage. I just didn’t know how to get from where I was to that reality. So I constructed a development plan, a plan that held my vision of high competence and confidence as a voice of authority about my professional passion.
That plan was thoughtfully imagined and constructed. It was forward-looking and future focused. It allowed me to take an idea that was disconnected from my experience and help me to see how to bridge that gap.
And then, just when I needed it most, just when I was lost in the reverie of what might be, I was asked the hardest of all questions: So, what’s your next step?
This is the moment when my plan met reality because the options were endless: research where to speak, hire a coach, make phone calls, prepare an outline, prepare an abstract, clarify my point of view through conversation with colleagues, watch videos of great speakers, title a speech for publication (much harder than it sounds!), film a practice session, etc.
Each of these actions, none of them wrong, all of them right, represented the hardest step in my plan for a preferred future state; the next one.
That moment when I realized that what I had envisioned – and all of the possibility and opportunity it contained – depended on a single next step? That is the moment that my future became real.
DAVID BERRY is the author of “A More Daring Life: Finding Voice at the Crossroads of Change” and the founder of RULE13 Learning. He speaks and writes about the complexity of leading in a changing world.