I will admit it. I’m going to see Bruce Springsteen play for the umpteenth time on Wednesday and I’m taking my teenage daughter with me. I’m excited!

And with Bruce on my mind this week and leadership always on my mind, I started thinking about some of the lyrics from his songs that have Thoughtful Leadership implications. “Talk about a dream, try to make it real” jumps out. I guess it helps that it was the caption in my high school yearbook as well.

Thoughtful Leadership encourages us to take the time, the reflection, to move toward realizing our dreams. Bruce suggests we try to make our dreams real, but how? We often have the best intentions, we even map out strategies and action plans, but the dreams that matter to us do not always happen.

A first step towards making dreams real is talking about them. Of course, talking about them alone, without any action, is not enough. That’s why we’ve written Ten Steps to Actually Doing What You Say You’re Going To Do, to help us all hold to our commitments and achieve our dreams.

A few of the steps we offer seem somewhat counter-intuitive and therefore worth calling out, especially since I’ve witnessed clients apply these specific steps to great results. The third step, Reward Yourself, is one of my favorites because it can go against our usual inclinations. We often hold off rewards until we’ve accomplished our goals or achieved our dreams. Or we expect the dreams themselves to be reward enough. However rewards along the way, no matter how small, can support us on our path and encourage us to stay the course and move forward. Just like animal trainers use positive reinforcements or rewards to guide their charges through each step towards a bigger goal, we can reward ourselves for each action towards making our dreams real.

Similarly, again perhaps counter-intuitively, the sixth step is Celebrate. Dreams can be big and they can take a long time to bring to reality, so it’s important to notice, and celebrate, progress. Simple acknowledgement of work we’ve done, changes we’ve made, and promises we’ve kept can help us stay focused and keep us moving towards our dreams.

I’m not sure Bruce had in mind what was needed to make a dream a reality when he offered us “talk about a dream, try to make it real” so many years ago. But his words carried me through in high school, and it can carry us all through now if we know the steps to take to make our dreams real.

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