Imagine Who You Could Be

By | February 15, 2021

[February 15, 2021]   Success begins with a vision.  The very best leaders are those capable of setting a goal, communicating that goal clearly, and acting upon it.  Drill Sergeant Bryant from my basic training days used to tell us that you [recruits] can’t hit the target if, at first, you don’t take aim.  He was discussing our marksmanship, but this applies to everything we do.  Imagine what you could be, then aim at it.

In my many discussions with some of America’s best and brightest leaders, they all told me about their personal aims, trials, stumbling blocks, and how they came up with the motivation to overcome.  It mattered not where they came from, the color of their skin or gender, what they looked like (pretty or ugly), but their imagination started them on their journey in life.

“Imagine who you could be, and then aim single-mindedly at that.” – Dr. Jordan Peterson

Dr. Peterson’s advice is good.  He warns us that taking aim is not so easy as we might initially think.  We give us common excuses for failing to do so.  Some of those excuses are:

  • What if I aim badly?
  • What if I do a lousy job?
  • I can’t set goals very well.
  • I will have to do it perfectly.
  • I’m waiting until I have enough time.

He rejects all of these for what they are: impediments to success.  His advice is just to do it, even if we set those aims badly and even if we do a little bit at a time.  Sit down and imagine what you could be, and then discuss it with someone you trust.  That bad first draft of your aim can be improved upon.

Literature is full of people who regret their past.  When asked about it, most will say they are less happy about what they did NOT do, rather than about the mistakes they made doing things.  That is worth thinking about. There is such an idea as redemptive mistakes; you improve by learning from your mistakes.

During the Second Battle of Fallujah, Iraq, in late 2004, I saw a Marine frozen in fear.  Admittedly, this was a tough fight, and casualties were high.  I’d never seen this before, so I reached for the man’s hand to find it gripping his M4 Carbine like a vice.  He would not move.   Later, I learned that his behavior shamed him, yet two days later, he was back in battle.  This Marine saw his actions as part of his fire team; the team needed him, and he needed his team.

Do not fear that your aim will change.   And, do not fear that sometimes your walk along that path will sometimes stop and reverse.  At least you are making progress overall.  Do not stand still; the world will move without you, which is the way to ensure failure.

Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article every day on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

16 thoughts on “Imagine Who You Could Be

  1. Frank Graham

    Yes, Imagine who you could be and that begins your journey in life. I will add that our “aim” will change throughout our lives and we then just make adjustments in the tactics to achieve it. No surprises here. The problem is for those who never aim for anything and thus never gain anything (and I don’t mean possessions but satisfaction about their lives).

  2. KenFBrown

    Thanks for another article and this time on a subject mankind has explored since we first walked on the Earth.

    1. Greg Heyman

      Yes you can ‘freeze’ in fear. Fight-or-flight has been studied in depth. Exciting new research from the UK is looking into the neurobiology of the “freeze” response. Before deciding to flee or fight, most mammals freeze for a few milliseconds to assess the situation before making the next move.

      1. Nick Lighthouse

        Good points, Greg. But that is not all. I recommend more reading up on this subject.

  3. Eric Coda

    “Culture is the root of politics,
    and religion is the root of culture.”
    — Richard John Neuhaus

    1. Dale Paul Fox

      Good quote. We are a product of both our biology (as inherited from our parents) and our culture (which also shapes us). Ignore either of these as our political ‘progressive’ ideologues believe and we will be missing a core part of our being. This is what our teachings tell us and are on target. Christianity is one of the Western cultures foundations and it works.

  4. Joe Omerrod

    Hey Gen. Satterfield, think about another article along these same lines. This time, I suggest humbly, that you focus on specific examples. I would surely appreciate examples to illustrate your thinking here. Please develop this idea more. 😊

    1. H. M. Longstreet

      Good thinking Joe. I agree. Maybe, perhaps, Gen. S. could use an example from his combat experience. Certainly not too difficult. Just my thinking.

      1. Max Foster

        Guys, thanks but I believe Gen. Satterfield has more than given us his thoughts and while I think the article could have been longer, the subject matter is spot on. If Gen. S. were to write a book, then he could have the space to explore this idea further and also give us more detail and illustrations of what he is thinking. The idea in his blog is to whet out appetite to learn more. It is then, up to us to go the next step.

        1. Purse 5

          As usual, Max, you’ve done well here in your analysis. However, I do believe like others that we can ask for more detail and it is up to Gen. Satterfield to provide that info for us. I’m sure he will consider it.

  5. Doug Smith

    Starting my Monday morning off great with a read from this leadership blog.


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