I recently came across some thoughts by Dr. John Maxwell, author and speaker, about what he called the “Rule of Five.” He presented the simple illustration of cutting down a tree in your backyard. Every day you go into your backyard and take five swipes at the tree with an axe. If you do this every day, what is likely to happen? The tree will fall. There are, of course, a few conditions of this; you must use an axe, you must use a certain amount of force, and you strike must be consistently placed in roughly the same spot. This action is both intentional and consistent and it results in the intended action or result.
The initial problem is the identification of our “tree” or what we see as our dream or passion. The real challenge is that we are neither consistent nor intentional. We are distracted by many things. But if we could decide what we want to accomplish and then be intentional and consistent in taking the steps necessary daily, there would be little question that we will accomplish what we set out to do.
The process is straight forward, but the execution is difficult. It goes... A Dream or Vision written down becomes a Goal. A Goal broken into steps or components becomes a Plan. A Plan backed by Action becomes REALITY. Maxwell suggests that we identify the five things we must do every day to accomplish our dreams or passion, and then do them.
The Rule of 5 is simply a series of activities that you do EVERY DAY that are fundamental to your success. For Maxwell, his Rule of 5 are as follows: every day he reads, every day he files, every day he thinks, every day he asks questions and every day he writes. Your activities may be different, depending on your own dream or passion.
So, here is how this can work. Our Vision or Dream is our Mission, that overarching thing that will make a tremendous impact on the world. It is our WHY, that emotional reason behind who we are and what we want to accomplish. Dr. Martin Luther King had a DREAM, and John Kennedy put forth a VISION. Yours may not be as life changing or require the same level of resources or followers, but it may be important to you and your portion of the world, your organization or company.
What then are the Five Things you must do every day to accomplish it? Maxwell’s Mission is to help people to be better leaders. How might daily reading, filing, thinking, asking questions, and writing help him to help others become better leaders? The Five Things you do daily become clear objectives within your life. They define you and help you to grow. They establish knowledge and understanding, and they challenge you to do and be more that you believed possible.They also establish certain Goals. Goals define a measure, a standard, or the parameters within you must work. They are points or locations, beacons that define a pathway, references to locate and note along your journey. They establish “how big” and “how long” and what it might look like when completed.
The most difficult things in life are those that we cannot define, that defies explanation or description. Going to the moon was an objective that all could focus on and ask, “what will this take to accomplish?” No one had a definite answer at first, but they had a defined direction. They failed many times but eventually got it right because they knew what success would look like.