How to Stop Crushing Dreams and Maximize Aspiration

Energize people by speaking into their aspiration.

A young employee says they aspire to become a manager. You view them through the lens of “NEEDS to IMPROVE.” Maybe they need to complain less and work harder, for example.

It’s natural to notice weakness. Train yourself to maximize aspiration.

Maximize aspiration with curiosity:

  • Aspiration: Earn a leadership position.
  • Curiosity: If you were leading, what would you do differently today?

  • Aspiration: Lead great meetings.
  • Curiosity: What would be true of you if you were already leading great meetings?

  • Aspiration: Coach team members.
  • Curiosity: What do you love about being coached? How might you bring that experience to others?

5 ways to maximize aspiration:

#1. Believe aspiration is positive energy.

#2. Don’t rush to fix people when they express aspiration. Everyone falls short of aspiration. They don’t need you to remind them that they haven’t made it yet.

#3. Provide opportunity for people to connect with their aspiration by being curious.

Everything that gets done runs on the engine of energy.

#4. Reject the urge to offer wisdom when someone declares an aspiration. A young leader declares an aspiration to coach their direct reports. You know what they SHOULD do before they finish declaring their aspiration. Stay curious.

Curiosity enables connection.

You seem wiser when you help people explore their own aspiration. Giving instruction before you understand their aspiration makes you come off as arrogant, pushy, and a know-it-all.

#5. Help people accept responsibility to fulfill their aspiration. But don’t use aspiration to bludgeon people into submission.

Aspiration requires courage. When you take someone’s aspiration seriously, they might feel intimidated. Chill out.

It takes time to grow into an aspiration. Ask, “How can I help?” (But never do more for others than they are doing for themselves.)

How might leaders accidentally crush people’s dreams?

How might leaders use someone’s aspiration to energize their performance?

Bonus material:

The Four Aspirations of Great Leaders (LinkedIn)

10 Things Successful People Do to Reach Their Dreams (Life Hack)