For Better Or Worse

Everyone knows it takes people to make things happen. On the other hand, sharing your plans with others may produce a negative effect if those around you are unsupportive. “You can learn to be strong enough in your spirit and purpose to stay focused and committed to goals and dreams in the face of negative people,” says Ty Howard, a motivational speaker and founder of InspiraGen Institute Inc., a Baltimore-based personal and professional development company. Howard’s book, Untie the Knots That Tie Up Your Life: A Practical Guide to Freeing Yourself From Toxic Habits, Choices, People and Relationships (Knots Free Publishing; $19.95), discusses how to recognize and handle all types of people attempting to impact and influence you.

In this second installment of our effective planning series, we show you how to make
use of all those around you for assistance in executing your plans:

Choose associates wisely
Application: Choosing the right people to support your idea or objective is critical. “No, you can’t share your dreams with everyone–nor should you,” advises Howard. “But you should keep people you trust updated on what you’re doing. Having these people inquire about your progress will keep you accountable and help you stay focused and on track.” Howard encourages lunch dates or phone calls to pick the brains of qualified associates for tips on organizing, planning, and implementation at every stage of your project. Sift through your personal and professional contacts and identify at least one person you can trust for honest guidance.

In 2002, when Indiana native Kimberley Stephenson was deciding whether or not to pursue a doctorate, she reached out to one of her professors for advice. “He said I should apply for the doctoral program in Milwaukee,” says Stephenson, 29. She was accepted at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to pursue a Ph.D. in urban studies and is now in the dissertation stage of her doctoral program, with graduation anticipated in December 2008. The professor Stephenson relied on for guidance remains an integral part of her career planning.

Resource: Construct a board of advisers, a team of people of varying age groups, professions, education, and expertise that you look to for objective advice to assist you in making important decisions. Also, join professional organizations and clubs that will most benefit your objectives. This will afford you the opportunity to attend events on a local, regional, and national scale with the intent to meet, greet, and network. Read All Hands on Deck: Choosing the Right People for the Right Jobs (The Armarium Press; $14) by Richard Warner.

Don’t totally block out the cynics
Application: “Naysayers can actually stimulate you toward successful execution, if you can transform their negative energy into additional motivation,” says Howard. Such individuals can take many forms: “people who tried and failed themselves, people who stick to convention, and those who are just envious that you have the gumption to aim high,” he says. The trick is learning how to “hear without listening.” That is, acknowledge disbelievers, but consider their motives so you don’t