Dream big

I grew up in a small town, surrounded by adults who constantly told the community’s young people to dream big — that we could do anything we wanted and we could be anything we wanted to become.
These words of encouragement led me to dream big as I pondered what to do with my life.
Fulfilling dreams
I loved basketball and dreamed about becoming a coach. My father in his infinite wisdom told me the seemingly transient life of a coach would be difficult, and he guided me to pursue the field of finance. My father was wise indeed as, at the time, very few women were in this male-dominated space.
After about five years in banking, I switched to health care and over the course of time, I found myself being encouraged by mentors to seek to lead a hospital. Once again, I dreamed big, although I didn’t see this particular dream as being realistically within reach because I hadn’t followed the traditional career path of hospital CEOs.
In 2006, my dream came true as I was given the opportunity to lead a hospital. In the years that followed, I realized my role as a hospital president was actually a lot like the job of a coach. We had a clear game plan. We practiced discipline to ensure our team was “brilliant at the basics.” We celebrated great performances, and we provided constructive feedback to encourage our team members to play at the top of their game. My dream to be a coach had come true after all.
In 2015, I made a bittersweet decision to retire from hospital administration. Once again, I found myself dreaming big. After almost four decades within financial services and health care industries, I knew my true love from a professional perspective was positive leadership. I also knew that I loved to write. I wondered how I might combine my passion for respectful, effective leadership with my love of prose. I soon discerned my next big dream would be to write a book about leadership… gracious leadership.
Encouragement all around
During the past year, I have been immersed in memorializing the important lessons I have learned about leadership and life. These lessons have been gleaned from my parents, my favorite mentors and my own leadership journey. This book has been a labor of love, and I am pleased to share my dream has come true as “Gracious Leadership: Lead Like You’ve Never Led Before” is being released this month.
I have been blessed throughout my life to have been surrounded by encouragers who taught me to dream big. I now encourage you to do the same. Dream big … dream far beyond what you believe is realistically possible. Take risks. Ask for opportunities. And don’t be afraid to fail as it is our mistakes that teach us the most memorable lessons of life.

You’ll never know what a positive difference you can make until you try. It all starts with a little encouragement and your own big dream.

Janet Meeks is the co-founder and CEO of Healthcare Alignment Advisors LLC. With 38 years of experience in finance and health care along with extensive service in the boardroom, Janet Meeks is a sought-after adviser to CEOs and other C-suite executives across a variety of industries. She is also the author of the book “Gracious Leadership: Lead Like You’ve Never Led Before,” that was released in January 2018.