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As summer wanes, thoughts naturally turn to school: new clothes, new teachers, new knowledge, new friends, new beginnings. Each new school year represents a fresh start filled with hope and possibility.

If education is calling your name, now is a great time to start. I keynoted at a conference where the association president shared her long-held dream of earning her doctorate. When asked what was getting in the way, she replied, “I’m busy, and I’m getting too old.”

“You’re never too old to go back to school,” I responded as I encouraged her. I also gently reminded her that the years were going to pass regardless of whether or not she pursued her dream. I’m happy to report she is almost finished. I couldn’t be prouder of her courage, tenacity and hard work.

Education changes us. Education opens doors. Education enhances the bottom line. And, deeply held desires, the ones that never go away despite being ignored or pushed down, are the dreams we need to pursue.

What about you? Is it time to begin turning your dream into your reality? What about your dreams for your company, department or team? Is it time to step up to the plate, or are you going to let another year or opportunity pass you by?

The easiest route in life and business is the path of least resistance. Unfortunately, the path of least resistance never propels you forward. Passivity leads to stagnation and lackluster results. Even worse, inaction, indifference and risk aversion cause individuals and organizations to slow down or even step backward while the competition and life pass them by.

Moving forward and pursuing dreams, innovative ideas and new revenue streams takes courage, work and risk. I find it helpful to keep two ancient sayings in mind when fear threatens to hold me or my business from moving forward: “Fortune favors the bold” and “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”

Here are my top five forward-propelling tips:

1.Pay attention to your intuition. While you can’t always articulate why you know or believe something, your gut instincts provide powerful clues that shouldn’t be ignored. For further information, click here.

2. Listen to the “whispers of your soul.” Instead of ignoring the dreams and ideas that never fully go away, dig deeper. Find out what it takes to pursue them. Picture yourself at the end of your life or career. What would you rather say, “I’m so glad …” or “If only …”?

3.Take calculated risks. Don’t just dive into a new idea or venture, do your homework. Testing the market, measuring the cost, checking for viability and seeking advice from trusted sources who have made smart, calculated decisions will position you for long-term success.

4.Build your runway. Plan ahead and have reserves in place to cover the costs and time it takes to launch something new. Failure to do so can jeopardize your entire organization. If you crash and burn, you may never get your plane off the runway again.

5. Create an innovative, forward-focused culture. Encourage risk-taking and dreaming in your team and organization. Ask “What if” questions. Reward individuals for thinking outside of the box. Try new things. Allocate resources for opportunity and development. Lastly, don’t freak out if something doesn’t work. You can’t reap the reward of an innovative culture if you demand every idea must work.

I strongly encourage you to use the beginning of another school year to propel your business and your life forward. What do you need to start doing today to create the future you want for yourself, team and organization?

The People IQ Expert, Dr. Sherene McHenry, works with organizations who want to elevate their productivity, People IQ and profits. Learn more at