Skip to main content

Before Building Your 12 Steps, Make Sure You Have A Solid Foundation

As an avid reader & someone interested in living my best life, I look forward to applying "12 Week Year", but as I read it, I realize...

Thinking Leads to Actions Lead to Results

I recently had the opportunity to spend some very valuable hours with Brian Moran, the author of the 12 Week Year, as he helped our company team think through and learn to apply the lessons and concepts in his book. It is a good book, with some great insights and valuable techniques that I look forward to applying.

During our time together, he made the comment, "Your thinking leads to actions. Your actions lead to results." I've heard that comment or concept before, of course, but this time it spurred some new questions and thoughts for me. I began to wonder, "If it's that easy, why don't more of us do it? Why aren't more of us successful in application and execution?" As I reflected and pondered those questions, I began to believe that it comes down to four types of thinking or four ways we tend to see our world.

Gold award ribbon on blue background, with "You Deserve the Best" text in black

Gold award ribbon on blue background, with "You Deserve the Best" text in black

"I deserve..."

The first is centered around our sense of self-worth and the thought, "I deserve..."

There are so many hurt, damaged, and broken people walking around - people who have been beaten down or let down by their family members, by their friends, by their faith, or just by life's circumstances - and who have come to believe that they don't deserve more than what they have. There is certainly a bad version of ego that leads to entitlement - the sense that I deserve more than others based off some innate characteristic or ability that relates in no meaningful way to my effort. But I’m talking about a healthy version of ego that believes I'm inherently worthy of anything anyone else is – if I'm willing to work for it. I may have to overcome more obstacles than others, but those do not affect my worth or my worthiness of achieving or attaining lofty goals, only how much harder or longer I have to apply myself as compared to others.

White background with eraser and the word "unable" changed to read "able" and "incapable" changed to read "capable"

White background with eraser and the word "unable" changed to read "able" and "incapable" changed to read "capable"

"I can..."

The second mindset to consider is our locus of control, or sense of self-determination and the thought, "I can..."

Once we believe we're worthy of something, we must have some sense that we can affect, if not control, outcomes associated with our lives. If we believe that "life happens to us" and that nothing we do will significantly change our circumstances, then we have no reason to put forth the effort required to affect that change. On the other hand, if we believe that our actions help determine, if not dictate, outcomes and our environment, then we believe we can take action to get to where we would wish to be.

Scroll to Continue
A hand reaching out with open palm up, with the words "Dream big and live your dream."

A hand reaching out with open palm up, with the words "Dream big and live your dream."

"I want..."

The third ability that affects our effort and our inclination to strive for a better life or a better version of ourselves is what I am calling our self-dream.

Self-dream is our ability or willingness to envision what that better life or better version of ourselves could look like, affecting how we answer, "I want..." Some of us have been denied the opportunity to dream because we started our lives from seemingly hopeless positions. Or, perhaps our homes encouraged us to be satisfied with the status quo, or perhaps our homes place greater value on being content with what we had than on pursing what may be possible.

It is far more difficult to pursue or achieve a dream if we don't know where that dream lies or what that dream consists of. How do I build an action plan to achieve a goal with no defined end state and which is not specific, nor measurable, nor motivational? On the other hand, if we take the time to really think about what we value in our lives and how we may best live those with and in those values, then we begin to answer for ourselves, "What do I want in my life and for myself? What is an audacious goal that I am worthy of, and that I have some chance to attain?

Yellow post-in note with "Failure is not an option" in artistic font

Yellow post-in note with "Failure is not an option" in artistic font

"I will..."

The fourth line of thinking that drives our actions and outcomes is self-discipline.

I must resolve to say, "I will...", not "I may...", and I must have the self-discipline to consistently follow through. While this is unfortunately one many of us struggle with, I do believe far too much credit is laid at the feet of this particular throne of failure. It cannot be argued that self-discipline is a cornerstone of success, but I offer here that it is a cornerstone laid upon the ground and foundation of worth, determination, and dreams. When a shaky foundation is built upon unstable ground and the cornerstone ultimately fails, too often it is the cornerstone that is named as the fault of the entire effort.


In summary, “The 12 Week Year” (by Brian Moran and Michael Lennington) is a great tool to help us focus our thoughts and efforts to achieve more in a year than we often think possible. And it builds upon and adds to work done by Stephen Covey and others in aligning our actions with our values, prioritizing our actions, and managing our time well. However, both fall short in addressing these issues I’ve discussed, assuming it’s simply a matter of will power or execution. I’ve proposed that our will power and our willingness or ability to execute is predicated on and supported by our beliefs – in our own worth, in our own efficacy, and in our own potential – and that we must address those to give our full selves to this effort and show its true potential.

Buy the book here

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2022 Anthony W

Related Articles