Navigating the Road Ahead


Getting you where you need to go takes two separate efforts – one to look at the map and the other to look out of the windshield.

Once you have defined your goals and vision, you have to learn what it takes to get there.

Education and training is important; it’s the second component to “doing the knowledge.” And you have to have root knowledge, not branch knowledge. This means you can’t just skim the surface of a subject matter and suddenly become the master of it. Having a comprehensive knowledge requires digging deep, even if you are ahead of the game at the start with a bundle of natural skills for a particular subject. That’s when you’re likely to take too many uncalculated risks and enter a minefield ill-equipped.

Study your chosen profession. You can acquire that knowledge in school or in life. Mentors and teachers come hugely in to play here. These are the people who can give you the information you need to move forward, especially at the start line. They often make for great cheerleaders, too.

Even the cream of the crop has coaches, teachers, and mentors. Famous singers have singing coaches. Olympic athletes have coaches. Actors have acting teachers. Bestselling authors have editors.

Professionals like lawyers, doctors, and scientists have mentors — those senior to them who know more through more experience, and can inspire new ways of thinking and problem solving. We all need someone who can take our raw talent and transform it into polished talent. We also need people who can challenge our thinking, and get us to acknowledge a different perspective from time to time.

Trouble is, as witnesses to (and for some, envious admirers of) others’ success we typically see the end result rather than a progression of practice, practice, practice.

When we watch a star perform on the stage or a runner dashing to the finish line at the Olympics, we forget to consider all the manufacturing that went into that single, winning moment. We skip over the hours upon hours of missed attempts and finetunings that helped usher out that now dazzling performance of talent. We are in awe of the outcome but fail to acknowledge and appreciate all the in-come leading up to it.

For example, every singer has a sound check before any performance. So will you before you go out and do whatever it is you’re intended to do.

For those who need more structure and a process to handling decision-making, let me share with you my A.H.E.A.D. methodology. It can help you track your options mentally and stay in tune with yourself:

A: Assess risks from an educated standpoint. Do the research necessary to learn all the potential risks involved in a pursuit. Don’t overlook any of them.

H: Hear what enters your mind. Don’t underestimate the power of gut instinct when weighing pros and cons and taking on honest look at risks.

E: Evaluate thoughts and potential solutions to problems. You’ll likely be problem solving from the day you ask yourself those critical three questions. Take your time thinking through what you need to do in order to move forward. Think through every step and direction you decide to take. Consider other options along the way. Be open to circumstances that change your surroundings.

A: Act based on experience and self-examination. Make calculated moves. Like the game of chess, see if you can act with your third move in mind.

D: Discern between what’s working and what’s not working to continue forward. This is when you need to perhaps plan a new direction.

We all hit walls once in a while. That doesn’t mean we have to stop. We turn around and find another way onward. We have to be willing to let go of ideas and pursuits that clearly aren’t working. They should be placed in the desire category instead of the known-skills category. If you hit a wall, but there’s an open road to be taken elsewhere with another set of skills innate to you.

You can employ the AHEAD method pretty much any time. It can be used for small-scale decisions, such as what to wear on a job interview or where to enroll in a class that will help you master a skill set. It can also be used for those larger, life-changing decisions like where you choose to live, work, and start a family.

Farrah Gray is the author of Get Real, Get Rich: Conquer the 7 Lies Blocking You from Success and the international best-seller Reallionaire: Nine Steps to Becoming Rich from the Inside Out. He is chairman of the Farrah Gray Foundation. Dr. Gray can be reached via email at or his web site at www.drfarrahgray. com

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