The Five Storeys of Aspiration

Ok, here’s why “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” is an all-time favourite melody.

We identify with the yearning and dreaming of Dorothy’s naive young heart and fear for her only finding out through bitter experience. We know that she can’t get where she’s going and even if she gets there it will all have been a charade.

The nation’s favourite song, like an addictive substance, is an accessible substitute for worthy ambition.  It is a trick played upon our passive potential that has our heartstrings tangled before we know it and leaves us painfully strung up in an escapologist’s nightmare debacle.

Last time I spoke about the elevator in “Are You Being Served?” Let’s take a ride in the elevator of aspiration and check out each increment toward really being sure of yourself in all that you put your hand to do!

Step into the first and Ground Zero level of aspiration for change/healing/transformation/success (insert your relevant goal)

  1. Dorothy’s is the very lowest form of aspiration, called WISHFUL THINKING that all too easily decays into the unpalatable aftertaste of REGRET.

I knew I had to write about this today, thanks to my sister’s share of this ironic proverb on her facebook timeline! She prompted the thought that I have changed. I have learned to value “setting intentions” rather than “having expectations”


So are we meant to just “suck it up” then?

Well naturally no. Children experiment and learn and grow. We remark upon and celebrate their inquisitiveness and simple quest for certainty.  However, too commonly aspiration becomes something easily squashed and compacted until it remains only as a tantalising mind-screwing carrot dangling inside our head, gently banging against the wall of our skull just often enough to remind us that we are not where we wanted to be by this point in our life

Wishful thinking is fairly unlikely to be a creative or fruitful activity.  Let’s see if we can aspire to something more than wishful thinking.

  1. Cultivate Great EXPECTATION?

It’s good isn’t it, to have and to cultivate Great expectation? It sounds like progress to talk about cultivating expectation.

Wise sage King Solomon put it like this “without a vision the people perish”

Yet there is a shadow side to this.  Weather one or two setbacks (inevitably so) and all too often dashed expectations feed a growing lament “Why, Oh Why Can’t I?” Certainly as an inspirational and instructional practise we might call this “writing a vision”. However much though, we hold fast to and run with this flag of vision, however large we write those letters on our imaginative banner, without some detail and strategy, vision-casting is little more than spell-binding.

Knowing what we want and seeing it clearly without having a clue how to get there intact is a terrible curse

  1. Surely HOPE is the key?

If there is vision and expectation, then hope can be expected to rise! I love this commodity like I love John Maxwell for saying that failure is not fatal, or that “Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn”. As a fervent trier I was shocked and yet liberated when I grasped something psychologist Henry Cloud urged his readers. To accept a certain “good hopelessness” is not being maudlin. It is exposing the hype about superficial positivity that doesn’t get to the core of the issue of what sabotages an authentic endeavour.

Like prayer for endurance in an abusive marriage.

Owning the passion and the vision and having a carefully designed and executed plan is promising.

Paul Scanlon once put it like this “Without a plan the vision perishes”

However, there’s another variable that needs accounting for. Following a vision, the passion AND the plan YET repeatedly failing to see it work its alchemy is sheer masochism.

I put it like this “Without inner conviction, neither plan nor vision prospers”

  1. FAITH is the next level

It’s a quest and yet it’s a gift. When you have it you know you’ve got it. Key thing is, don’t stake your life on hope, ensure that beyond wishes, expectations and hopes you have obtained this assurance of what you hope for. It is the gold you pan for in the stream of possibilities and opportunities. Conviction that you know for what and how and when to move!

It is an exhilarating feeling. Why some spend their lives in search of it and others seem to be raised on it I can’t explain but it is the crucial line to cross between strife and favour.


That final mental and spiritual shift of belief was the cue you needed to take action.

You’re away, and the marvellous thing is that you now know you can do it! It’s the first action that actually counts! No one could call me lazy. However, it was never enough to get in my aspiration “elevator” and act out by punching the buttons to the floor I wanted to visit. Until I had the capacity that would equip me at each level of the building, I was unconvinced, unprepared and I could never capitalise on the opportunities opened to me.

So where are you? It’s a cliché to say “I’m going to the next level” and yet I believe there is a logical sequence evidenced in the people we know, the stories we’ve heard and setbacks experienced. After rounds and rounds of bungled “snakes and ladders” I am confident I can assure a smarter way up. And it’s an inside job!

I am passionate about lifting the level of your potential. Please allow me to continue to serve you by subscribing to my email list

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Are YOU Being Served?




Do you recall a childlike curiosity and desire to ride up to the very last level of an elevator to see what was on the top floor?

Just when did you become so politely satisfied in merely going up to second floor?  (Because that’s where you work, day in, day out).  Do you ever have a thought of finding out what may be on the next level?

John Maxwell in his classic leadership book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership talks about the Law of the Lid. By this he means that we all have a capacity of influence tightly defined by the height of the lid (or cap) upon our potential.

Until we decide to lift it, by serving ourself.

Yes, I said serving ourself. By being all we can gloriously be as a person  fully whole. Only then do we serve others fully.

What is this lid?

It could be a thousand and one different things, something uniquely frustrating and obstructive for each one of us. Just as our unique genius adds its distinctive characteristic to our creative potential, our unique lid is that combination of experiences, beliefs, values, mind sets and ultimately habitual behaviours that direct the course and impact of our lives.

However the Lid is a variable we can play with!

Back to that elevator.

Upon entering, you punch the button number floor level of choice and ride!

What decides your floor of choice? Your duty, obligations, time pressures, your needs or just possibly your curiosity, playfulness and aspiration?

Years ago there was a sitcom, very popular in the UK, called “Are You Being Served?”. Set in a the 1970’s, within an old fashioned haberdashery store of a department shop each episode’s opening credits were set to the “ching”of a cash register and the elevator tannoy as the doors slid apart.

In the first moments of each episode the regular shop attendants entered one by one through the sliding lift doors with a dramatic story to tell of their journey to work that day. Through the rain or on the bus or having dealt with a pet-related or boyfriend catastrophe before leaving home they all had an adventure to report.

For all their hapless escapades, this motley crew delivered a level of customer attention unmatched by todays’s standards. Whether a customer asked nervously for a “brassiere” sizing or an inside leg measurement, nothing was too much trouble!

Unfortunately, despite their very best efforts in customer care, each of these characters emitted a frequency that simply didn’t serve them, nor ultimately the interests of the lacklustre family business. They could not see that they were failing their customers because they were serving up a far inferior version of themselves.


All this reminiscence is simply to point out one thing. We are all “on hold” within our particular context and routine until we become curious, dissatisfied or outright frustrated with OUR own personal impact upon our lot.

And I suggest that unless you are utterly content with the way things are, the success or influence you enjoy, you might want to ride a little higher to the next level of life in this journey or elevator.

Are you or your clients being served by your current capacity in this journey of life?

As business people, in the service or ministry sectors it is vital to understand the power of servant leadership and the dynamic we release when we exude genuine interest and care for those we lead. However, I am a firm believer that “if it’s not IN us, it won’t go THROUGH us”.

Enlarging the capacity to inspire and attract the right people and resources has been a personal endeavour of mine which I feel is only just beginning to lift my own lid.  It is coming about not because I am working harder or smarter or even being kinder or more generous. It is because I am finally understanding the counter-intuitive power of serving myself, investing in skills, gifts, comprehension and strategy.

Without serving our true, hungry, appetite for more of life we diminish ourselves.  We continue to serve up an inferior image of ourselves. We are not actually serving others, we are doing themselves and ourselves a disservice.  We remain at ground level with all the limited choices and exposure entailed.

I want to ask you today exactly what you are doing to nurture your sense of adventure and appetite, to lift your lid of life and to grow?

If you can grasp the importance of serving yourself, only then can you have a quality of life worthy of serving others.

What do I mean by serving yourself? I mean to take time to understand, attune to and then provide the nurture that you particularly need to be the best YOU you can then be for others.  Only by this kind of self honouring can you export the quality your particular world needs from you!

As one of my favourite speakers says ” Be the BEST YOU you can be, everyone else is taken”!