If your approach to leading is “show up and see what happens,” you might want to give that some thought. You can accomplish an awful lot without goals and planning. But you might surprise yourself if you became focused and intentional about the changes you want to make in life — whether at work or at home or wherever you feel the need for change.

For the longest time, I thought I didn’t have the temperament for planning how I might learn, grow, and change. I’ve always approached things pragmatically — working out what needs doing in the moment, and doing my best to remember what I did when I found myself in a similar situation.

A couple of years ago while talking to a friend, I jokingly said we didn’t need plans and goals to get things done (notwithstanding my own career as a writer and an editor, full of deadlines, project plans, strategy sessions, and the like).

My friend has a way of tilting her head down and peering over her glasses at you when you say things like that. She fixes you with a look that says, “You don’t really believe that, do you?” Sometimes she even says it out loud.

Change Now! Five Steps to Better Leadership

Pete is one of the authors of the new book Change Now!, a five step guide to achieving the changes you seek. Click this photo for details.

“What about your degree?” she asked. I had returned to university a few years ago to pursue an advanced degree. “What about playing guitar?” I taught myself to play as a teenager because I was crazy about music. My friend got me to thinking. What about all of the other goals I’d set throughout my life? Learning to drive. I studied a book and drove around with my dad for that. Learning to write clearly. That took years of practice (still does).

Sometimes we develop without really thinking about it. But what happens when we put our minds to it? How much could we grow, and how quickly, if we focused on one change we wanted to make? I never thought of myself as a much of a planner. But my friend has me thinking differently. Developing a skill, learning to take a different approach with other people, helping a team push itself over the finish line—all these things can be focused and planned. You just need to practice with your eyes open.

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