Seven Principles for Taking Charge of Your Future

April 3, 2017

Mark LeBlanc and Henry DeVriesI’ve just returned from a life-changing workshop. It was the first annual “Indie Books International Family and Friends Forum,” organized by Henry DeVries and Mark LeBlanc (Mark’s on the left) for Indie Books authors (and future authors). Indie Books is my publisher, and I couldn’t be happier with our relationship.

Henry and Mark are two of the most remarkable people I know, and they produced an experience this weekend I’ll never forget. Not only did the various sessions inspire me (and my fellow authors) individually, but the most powerful outcome of the weekend was the creation of a community. I’m now part of a group of smart, caring writers and speakers who are committed to supporting each other in the best possible way.

There’s no way I can re-create the experience for you, or capture it in words. However, I am going to share just a few of the sound bites that stuck with me. Frankly, it’s probably going to sound trivial and obvious, but I can vouch for the power of each one of these principles.

There is deep meaning here if you take these ideas seriously. In the interest of time, I’ll just mention them briefly without unpacking them completely – but I can guarantee you’ll hear more about them over the coming weeks and months.

So – here we go.

Ken Blanchard with Jim WareFrom Ken Blanchard (of One-Minute Manager fame (newly revised, by the way), and a fellow Cornell University grad who I knew way before he published the first of his 60+ books – that’s Ken on the left):

Invest in Essence before you worry about Form or Process. In other words, get to know someone at a deep personal level before you commit to any kind of partnership or joint effort. Know who you are working with before you worry about how you will work together.

From Dean Minuto, the award-winning Vistage Keynote Speaker and author of The One-Page Sales Coach: Your Guide to Getting YES from Anyone, Anyplace, Anytime:

Make your message visual. The brain absorbs visual information up to 30 times faster than auditory information. You can say it, and they will hear it; but if they see it, they’ll understand it far better and remember it much longer.

From Dan Janal and Robin Ryan:

Become a local celebrity by reaching out to local journalists and TV/radio producers. Make it easy for them to print your ideas or to interview you. Focus your energy on becoming a “go-to” expert for local news, and eventually the national media will find you.

From Tim Gard, CSP, CPAE (NSA Speaker Hall of Fame):

Have fun, mostly for yourself, and share it when you can. Tim entertained us with travel stories, every one of which had a personal lesson. As Tim told his stories I laughed so hard it hurt. But I also learned to look at life with a sense of humor and a passion for the pleasure of a good laugh.

And, by the way, we also experienced a somewhat more serious “final rehearsal” of Karyn Buxman’s upcoming TEDx talk on the therapeutic value of humor. Humor isn’t just about a good laugh, it’s also in service of good health. And good leadership (Karen’s forthcoming book is called Leading with Levity)

My most inspirational moments, however, came from Mark LeBlanc, a former president of the National Speakers Association and the author of the classic book for entrepreneurs, Growing Your Business, as well Never Be the Same, the story of Mark’s 500-mile walk on the Camino de Santiago in Spain (he’s done it twice and is about to embark on his third walk).

Mark tells me I’m the first person to call him my Yoda, but even that doesn’t do him enough justice. Here are just a few of Mark’s most important messages:

If your strategy doesn’t work, it’s not the strategy’s fault.” In other words, strategic failures more often stem from a failure to execute than from a bad idea.

What you do every day is more important than what you do once in a while.” That’s why Mark advocates developing a daily routine in which you do things like make business development calls, or friendship calls, every single day, five days a week, without fail. Just like one-a-day vitamins, make the important tasks in your life into habits, not strenuous, difficult activities. Be disciplined.

Similarly, “Success is determined not by outcomes, but by momentum.” Are you moving forward? Are you paying attention, and adjusting your efforts to your current reality? What pace is right for you? Your momentum depends on how you feel, and how you feel depends on your doing your best today – every day. And if you fall down, pick yourself up and start over.

In truth, there was much, much more, and many, many powerful conversations with friends new and old. As I said at the outset, it was a game-changing weekend (at least I intend to make it into one). Stay tuned, and I’ll report on my own momentum in making these principles not just good ideas but a central part of my life.


Don’t face the future alone. Jim Ware works with organizational leaders who want to make sense of the future and transform its inherent uncertainty into opportunities for extraordinary success.

Contact Jim today to explore how his workshops, keynote presentations, and expertise in orchestrating powerful conversations can put the future to work for you.

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