Have you ever wanted to achieve a huge, huge goal? Something you’ve long dreamed about but never known how to go about achieving?

If so, this blog is for you.

It’s inspired by a story I’m going to share about my son.

Last year we took our family to Legoland in the UK. We had two magical days there where we did all the fun stuff you do at amusement parks, like going on rides and staying in a themed hotel. It was wonderful. My two sons—seven and five years old—had so much fun they made it clear they want to move to Legoland.

They took a bit of their saved-up pocket money, and with a little help from dad they bought some new Legos, in particular, a giant dragon.

My oldest son Rocco was really excited. He said, “Daddy, you’re going to build it, right?”

And I said, “Let’s have a chat when we get home, okay?”

So we get home and he starts pulling the pieces out of this huge box.

“Can we start building the dragon, Daddy?” he asked.

I said, “Well, no, you’re going to build it.”

This was not what he wanted to hear. He tensed up and looked ready to cry.

“No, no, Daddy! This is too much for me! I just want the dragon, but can you build it?”

“Look,” I said. “Let’s sit down. Let’s get all the pieces out to start with.”

We took everything out and spread it on the floor. I realized it was quite a substantial piece of Lego, especially for a seven-year-old.

There were all these different pieces, some in little bags with numbers on them, and so on. There were also these wonderful little booklets that walk you through step by step, literally sort of baby step, baby step, baby step—every specific action you need to take along the way, each one building on the one before it. Follow that and you’ll eventually get to your goal.

So I said to Rocco: “Let’s talk about how you’re going to build this!”

He immediately launched into, “I can’t do this! I can’t! It’s too big!”

I said, “Well, you think you can’t do it. I think you can do it. So let’s make an agreement. You do your best, okay? You take it step by step using the booklet, and if at any time you get really stuck, call me over and I’ll support you. We’ll do the next step together, and then you can keep doing it by yourself again.” 

Of course, he wasn’t sold right away. There was a bit of resistance at first, but then he went for it.

He tentatively snapped a couple of pieces together following the instructions in the book.

And then a few more, and a few more . . . And he kept going, taking his lead from the manuals. First book number one, and then book number two …

And occasionally—not often, but every once in a while—he did get stuck, and I helped him get past it.

Maybe I’d find some missing pieces and ask him, “Where do you think they go?”

I’d empower him to carry on building. And then I’d leave him alone again.

And in the end, he built an amazing creation. A beautiful, big, green Ninja dragon.

I was absolutely inspired, and I’ll tell you why.

At first, Rocco couldn’t begin to imagine how he would ever build that dragon. It looked so complicated, so overwhelming, that he almost froze before he started.

But then he moved into action.

And every time he overcame a specific hurdle, I could see him grow in stature. His eyes got wider and brighter. And he went from a place where he believed he couldn’t build this huge piece of Lego . . .  to a place where he knew he could, step by step by step.

He was so motivated and so focused to complete the project that I let him stay up past his bedtime to do it. And when he was done he was so, so inspired. So happy with himself.
And it made me really inspired too.

Rocco had realized that sometimes thoughts get in the way of action.

They keep you in a box where you believe you can’t achieve your goals or get to where you want to in life. But they’re only thoughts. You can move past them. You don’t have to stay in the box.

He wouldn’t have put it this way, of course, being only seven years old. But he now had firsthand experience that it was true.

He started out thinking, “I can’t do this,” and then showed himself he could do it.

The proof was in his hands: a great big Ninja dragon!

The same thing holds true for a lot of people with big dreams, goals and ambitions.

If you’re an entrepreneur, for example, you probably know what you want to create—you can see the picture on the side of the box—but you just don’t know where to start. It all just seems too big.

My encouragement for you is to consider breaking things down into bite-sized pieces.

Begin by finding out what you need to know to get into action.

Lay out the pieces on the floor, so to speak, and crack open the instruction manual.

If you need to bring in people to help—staff, a team consultant, a coach—do it.

Provide them with simple, easy-to-follow systems—just like the Lego instruction manuals—and create agreements about how you’re going to support them if they get stuck.

In the process, you and your staff will discover inner resources that weren’t apparent when you set out on the path to creation.

This whole interaction reminded me that there’s a really big intersection between entrepreneurship and parenthood.

A lot of people miss this, maybe because it seems counterintuitive. We’re used to thinking that the more time we give to business the less time we have for our family, and vice versa.

But what this equation misses is that there’s so much we can learn from children.

I’m seeing this more and more now with my own children, and of course, that’s why I shared this story.

I didn’t just get the joy of seeing Rocco overcome his feeling that he couldn’t do something. I also got to see the power of a particular style of coaching and management. I could have just done the project for him.

I’m no saint, and I also love my son dearly. There were times when I could see he was getting frustrated and I just wanted to leap in there and save the day.

Sometimes that just seems like the easiest thing to do, whether you’re a parent, a manager, or a coach.

Instead, I chose to give him the space and the time and the right kinds of questions so he could empower himself to move forward on his own.

This didn’t just show him he was capable of doing the job himself.

It also helped me see something quite powerful.

I’ve been told by various teachers at his school that he sometimes he goes off into dreamland, that he lacks focus and concentration. Yet here I watched him spend eight hours over the course of two days, laser-focused on creating something he wanted.

So it was clear: he does have focus. He does have concentration.

What happened in the process of building the Lego dragon was that his focus and concentration became aligned with something he valued. And this gave him the motivation to keep at the task and see it through.

Now this happens a lot in the business context.

When people don’t move forward with a specific goal they’ve been tasked with, it’s usually not because they lack the ability to concentrate. It’s because they can’t see how the goal is linked to their values.

Say you’re finding yourself disengaged as a leader. You’ve got some big goals you want to achieve but you’re finding it difficult to motivate yourself.

If this is the case, it’s time to get real clarity about your own highest values. Because once you link your values to the actual tasks you’re doing, you’ll find the energy and focus to move forward.

The same goes for your team. If you find your team is lacking engagement, focus, concentration—It’s probably because they can’t see how what they’re doing links to something they feel is important.

This is often that missing piece that managers and leaders forget. The connection to a vision, to an understanding of how it all links up with our highest values.

Let’s take it even one step further. It’s not just about how we operate at work. It’s about how we live our lives.

When you find yourself feeling stuck, look at your goals and your values.

Are you stuck because you’re feeling overwhelmed—like Rocco was with the thought of building his dragon by himself?

And you just need to get into action, one step at a time?

If so, I invite you to ask yourself: how can I take the very first step with this—right now?

Or are you feeling stuck because you need to look deeper at how your goals and values are linking up?

If you feel this might be the case, ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?” 

Your answer may surprise you.

It will connect you with your values, with what you crave in life. It will give you a reason to explore everything that’s most important to you.

Love and wellness,

David.

“This is the real secret of life — to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play.”
— Alan Watts