Around this time last year, I decided to learn how to swim, and raise $500 for the Swim Across America Laboratory here in Baltimore. With a mean doggy paddle, fear of asking for money, and just fifteen weeks to make it happen, I was overwhelmed and quickly tired of inhaling chlorinated water.

Rather than go into the full details of the story – you can find much of it here – I want to share with you how I reached what became my big goal of 3&3 in fifteen weeks. That is, I raised $3000 and swam 3 miles in the open water on the day of the event.

The following are the 6 critical steps I unknowingly took to reach, and surpass, my goals:

  1. A goal that demands your courage. My original goal was to simply help my hip by learning how to swim. Then, as I started learning, and after I raised my initially promised goal of $500, I set a new goal—to raise $1000. As I reached my goals, I kept increasing so that they demanded my courage.
  2. Leverage your fears by sharing your journey. Every time I overcame a fear (sometimes inadvertently, like the time I realized I was afraid of mud), I shared through social media, my blog, text messages, phone calls… the woman in the line behind me in the grocery store. Seriously – share your journey so that others may be inspired.
  3. Ask for help. I know, it seems simple, yet few make “the ask.” Sometimes, I would get people so excited about my journey they’d ask me how they could help. Brilliant! In these situations, be ready. Pull out your phone, ask for their email address, and send them a link to your donation page. Or, friend them on Facebook, and send them a link. Do it when their emotions are high, and they’re ready to commit – don’t wait.
  4. Leverage your obstacles by sharing your journey. Much the same as number two share the times you overcome real (or imagined) obstacles. I didn’t even know how to put a swim cap on when I went to my first swim class. I didn’t have goggles, or a swimsuit. Well, I did, but my friend Janice said that wearing a bikini to a swim practice is sorta like wearing a dress to a Crossfit class. I showed up to class anyway, borrowed goggles and bought a suit there.
  5. Say, “Thank you,” constantly and as publically as possible. Without their support, I could never have reached any of my goals. It’s true, and so I said it often. I even asked those same people to share my link with their friends/family/following. When people give, go out of your way to make sure they know how much your appreciate them.
  6. Use pictures and videos to share your journey. I hope you’re beginning to see a theme here. Reaching for noble goals and overcoming fears is an experience we all want to have, so give your supporters a way to experience your journey with you. I remember shooting a quick video on a cold day in early September when I jumped into the freezing water so that I could practice that day. People loved it! And, they’ll love seeing you overcome your challenges too!

Whether you’re looking to secure sponsorship, followership, or mentorship, using these 6 strategies will ensure your success. Remember, we all want to champion those who dare to dream big, ask for help, and share in the journey.

Here’s to your greatness!