4 Simple Ways Leaders Can Follow Their True North

True North

Most of us are passive spectators in our life. We plan careers, retirement nest eggs, and vacations, but we do not plan our life. As a result, we don’t live our life on purpose.

Is it any wonder that many of us feel unfulfilled and not following our higher calling?

We are not empowered and are no longer active participants in the direction our life is going.

Anchoring Your Goals

Research has shown that people who regularly write down their goals earn as much as nine times more than their counterparts who do not write down goals.

  • Over 80% of Americans do not have goals
  • 16% say they do have goals but don’t write them down
  • Less than 4% actually write them down

Guess who they are? They are the ones making nine times more than the rest of us.

Without goals to anchor us, we find ourselves adrift in life. We may think we know what our goals are, but if we aren’t living our life around them, then we’re not living our life on purpose.

A goal is a dream set to paper. If you don’t have a dream, how can you have a dream come true?

Finding Your True North

Inner SelfIn a previous post, I shared the story of Oleg, a KGB officer that I met while working as an FBI undercover agent a few years ago. Neither Oleg nor the Russians knew that the FBI had identified him as a Russian Intelligence Officer.

If they had, he would have been sent back to Moscow immediately.

Oleg’s cover was a Russian businessman involved with the joint venture. I represented myself as an individual working for an international public relations company.

We met at a seminar, but the one thing we never talked about was his work.

It wasn’t that Oleg couldn’t talk about some aspects of his overt job; it was that he didn’t want to talk about them. He couldn’t drum up enough enthusiasm about the job to even keep up a good conversation. His lack of engagement in what he was doing was a clue that he was not doing something he felt passionate about.

Oleg was not following his True North. Somewhere along the line, he had compromised and had settled for less than his dream.

Here are 4 ways I encouraged Oleg to empower himself and start following his true north:

1. Explore Lifetime Goals

I encouraged Oleg to look deeper into the goals he set for himself in each of the areas listed below. It helped for him to look at each aspect of his life as a spoke in a wheel, with each leading to the hub, which is the heart. To have a balanced life, each spoke needs attention.

  • Career
  • Spirituality
  • Education
  • Recreation
  • Travel
  • Relationships
  • Family
  • Health
  • Financial

As I got to know Oleg better, I’d probe about the important aspects of each spoke—not all in one day, but over time—and ask how much attention he gave to each of them, and what his goals were in each area.

2. Be Specific

“If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.” B.J. Marshall

I encouraged Oleg to be specific with his answers. How many of us go into a restaurant and say, “Bring me food?” Instead, we’re very specific, picking what we want from the menu, and sometimes asking for substitutions to what is offered.

Do not just say, “My goal is to be more spiritual.”

  • Be specific.
  • Articulate ways in which you will be more spiritual in the 6 months, in the next year, in the next 5 years.
  • Write down your goal in clear and vivid terms.
  • List the steps needed to get there.

3. Own It

As I talked to Oleg about his goals, I learned that, besides relationships with his family, his goals were to travel and write. He had fallen into a rut in his career at an early age and was now afraid to move away from a secure job and retirement.

At some point, Oleg needed to learn that he was either living his own life or someone else’s dream for him. He was not setting his own course, and it left him empty and unfulfilled in his work and life.

  • Review your list of goals.
  • Write down reasons why your idea or goal will work.
  • Acknowledge issues that will need to be overcome.

4. Start a Life Plan

Never ask, Can I do this? Instead ask, How can I do this?

Living your life on purpose is an intentional act. It requires a simple plan to set your goals in action. Start by answering these questions:

  • Envisioned future – when and how is the goal functioning at it’s best
  • Inspiration – identify scripture, books, poems, speakers and authors from which to draw inspiration
  • Current reality – be honest; where are you in relation to the envisioned future
  • Specific actions needed – list what you will need to do to accomplish your goal

Writing down his goals helped Oleg to gain clarity on what he really wanted to do in life. Once he took ownership of his future, he was able to break it down and follow his True North. As it turned out, Oleg’s higher calling turned out to not be the KGB, and he resigned to begin a new career in writing.

How did you find your True North? What tips can you share about how to live your True North with intention? What can you share about your implementation of a life plan?


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LaRae Quy is former FBI Agent and Founder at Your Best Adventure
She helps clients explore the unknown and discover the hidden truth in self & others
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Image Sources:  hoax-slayer.com, goudielynch.com

5 responses to “4 Simple Ways Leaders Can Follow Their True North

  1. Great reminder that we are all here on a life journey. Very much enjoyed the article. Thank you!


  2. Thank you so much for this wonderful article LaRae, you have had a fantastic life experience and it is amazing to learn from you. Here are my thoughts on the questions listed:

    How did you find your True North? I has taken me most of my life, and, when my Mom died last year, I finally drummed up the courage to tell others that I wanted to be a leadership consultant. My dream is to make a living by helping others improve the quality of their leadership.

    What tips can you share about how to live your True North with intention? Many risks have come and I have made many mistakes as I take actions on the steps I listed. The main tip is to find lessons in the mistakes we make and remember that is not how we fall that matters, it is how we get up that is most important.

    What can you share about your implementation of a life plan? Like you say in your article, be specific and own it. This means owning your mistakes just as much as your success. And, never ever quit.

    Thanks again for inspiring me today LaRae, and thanks to Tom Schulte for making this wonderful blog a reality!

    Al Gonzalez


    • Hi Al,

      So glad you liked the article 🙂

      It has taken me a while to find my True North – more than once! I felt the FBI was truly my calling; however, after 24 years, I began to feel a tug toward something different and decided to retire early. I’ve always wanted to write, so the natural thing was to write a book of fiction. I tried it but it didn’t feel right. Then, following my calling to write, I tried to write a non-fiction book, but I couldn’t find publishers that shared my vision. So that door closed as well. Still pursuing my desire to write, I started blogging – and I am loving it. I, too, feel a sense of true calling when I see others think outside the box and empower themselves to do more than they thought they could.

      I hate making mistakes, but following your True North will undoubtedly involve several – simply because new direction takes discernment and discernment, by it’s nature, is obscure and difficult to grasp at times. I am a true believer in developing strong minds to overcome obstacles. I’ve faced several obstacles along the way but have always relied upon an inner sense of direction to keep my spirits high. Resilience is an important quality when it comes to adventure, for surely that is what a life of calling is really all about . . .

      I am also a firm believer in looking as deeply into my weaknesses as in uncovering my strengths. So many times we either try to avoid the acknowledgement of weaknesses or spend inordinate amounts of time trying to overcome them. Weaknesses will never provide us the advantage that well toned strengths can, so spend time developing your strengths into even stronger assets and learn to manage your weaknesses.

      I journal often and this written account makes the implementation of a life plan much easier for me. I am a visual person so when I see goals, reality, and the gaps between them down in black and white, it makes it easier for me to take a plan of action. Implementation of goals is very important but I only make them for 6 months at a time so I can reset my course if it’s not working out.

      I hope this helps.

      I’ll be writing more in future blogs about journaling, weaknesses, and resilience. Hope to see/hear from you again!


  3. Pingback: Lead With a Strong Mind and Soft Heart « Linked 2 Leadership·

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