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Deb Neuman Deb Neuman
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Stop planning!

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I caught a snippet of a graduation speech that Jane Lynch (of GLEE fame) gave at a recent commencement. She told the recent college graduates to 'Stop planning!' noting that she would not be where she is today had she followed her plan.

Hear, hear, Jane!

Think about the plans you had for yourself on your graduation day. How's that working out for ya? Chances are you can look back over the years since graduation and note that most of what has happened to you was not part of your plan.

This is a good thing! I've known too many people who never just go for it because they're over-planners and they suffer from 'paralysis by analysis.' Once they get their ducks in a row their 'Is' dotted and 'Ts' crossed the opportunity has passed. Life is full of surprises and opportunities that will come our way when we least expect it - opportunities that we never planned for! These opportunities may include the idea for a business.

Take my friend Jeff Clapp, founder of Bells from Everest, as an example. One night he was watching the National Geographic channel about oxygen cylinders that were being collected off Mt. Everest as part of an effort to clean up the mountain. Nepal was now stuck with piles of these old metal cylinders and was trying to determine what to do with them. Leave it to a creative guy sitting on his couch in Brunswick to hatch an idea for how these cylinders could be used. Most of us would simply think of the idea, head to bed after the program and get back to our regular routine the next morning. Not Jeff. He quit his job and bought a plane ticket to Nepal! Fast forward to today: Jeff creates and sells bells, bowls and ornaments from the cylinders he had shipped back to Maine after his trip to Nepal and has been offered a movie deal in Hollywood to tell his story.

This was likely the farthest thing from Jeff's mind when he wore his cap and gown. What Jeff did was take a risk, a leap of faith, a chance on an idea that could have gone nowhere. He told me, 'The worst thing that could have happened would have been that I took a trip that I might have never taken.' That trip turned out to be only the beginning of an amazing and inspirational journey.

So the next time you're hit with the 'inspiration bug' or that unexpected opportunity comes your way, rather than thinking about why you shouldn't do it, ask yourself why you should. Don't try to plan out all the details and potential consequences. You can't possibly know how it will all turn out. That is what makes new opportunities so exciting. Sometimes we just need to go for it. Just do it. Just try. At the very least you'll be smarter, stronger and wiser from the experience, and you'll never have to wonder, 'what if?' Who knows - maybe one day someone will make a movie about the time you took a chance!


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