5 Steps to Become a Pioneer That Makes Great Things Happen!

pioneerWhen we think about pioneers one can think about a lot of different people throughout history. More notably are the actual pioneers who crossed the plains and mountains of the western United States in the 1800’s in search of freedom and opportunity in the West. Their stories of perseverance are inspirational and help us to put our own struggles into perspective.

As I think about a “pioneer,” I also think about others throughout history that have forged paths that greatly helped themselves and greatly affected others. This has been on my mind since I wrote a post for Peter Stelacci‘s Personal Branding Blogathon entitled, “Screw “Dents”… I’m Aiming for an Immense Gaping Hole!

In 1775 the founding fathers of the United States met for what was called, the Virginia Convention. In that convention tempers flared, fears were manifest, and the inspiring speech of Patrick Henry in which he declared, “give me liberty or give me death,” inspired a young country to change course and fight for freedom and separation from Tyranny. During the next 100 years the U.S. would experience wars and conflict that would tear families apart, stain fields red with blood, and would rattle the foundations and heart strings upon which the great nation as we know it would eventually emerge. Those early founders pioneered a cause that cost many of them their own lives, but their actions formed the basis to what is known as the greatest country of freedom and opportunity.

Another person, a boy, who at the age of 15 came home from school one day to find that his mother had committed suicide, through the years he battled with demons that would tear him apart. But he knew, despite his heartache, that there had to be a way out. He ultimately became one of the pioneers to uncover the mysteries of a disease that affects 120 million people worldwide and causes over 850,000 deaths a year.  That disease is known as depression. This man Richard O-Conner and others, has helped to pioneer cures and preventions that have saved and improved millions of lives.

In recent years, a couple I know had a baby that carried a disease that honestly just defies reason …for me at least. Unable to properly hold and cuddle their child for fear that his skin would tear off and he would die. Struggling financially, emotionally, mentally, to keep their family cared for they fought on; they sacrificed much and saw other children die going through the same treatment. They pioneered their way through struggles that I can only imagine tore to their very core. But they kept faith that they could save their son and were instrumental in helping to pioneering what appears to be a cure or at least the beginnings of a cure for this horrible disease. And they can now hold their child.

All of these individuals are pioneers, just like each and every one of us can be a pioneer. We each have struggles and aspirations that can cause us great pain and heartache. I believe that, the moment where we decide to take that first step, and begin the journey to cross that great plain of uncertainty before us; is the moment we all become pioneers.

“The moment we decide to begin the journey to cross a great plain of uncertainty is the moment we all become pioneers” Click to Tweet This!

As I thought about these pioneers that I mentioned, I wondered to myself, what defines one as a pioneer? I wondered if there was a model or process that could be extracted from the lives of these pioneers, to help us in our own struggles, but also to help us as leaders to create greater dents in this world.  I ended up discovering 5 traits that I believe are essential for our own pioneering success, and as I thought about great leaders, I found these traits also matched closely to how they operated.

  1. A Robust Vision In The Outcome – I think you have to believe so strongly that the outcome will be worth more than any sacrifice it takes to get there. Without that dream of a better outcome, I think it is difficult, if not impossible, to begin the journey, and endure the difficulties of the journey.
  2. The Inability To Turn Back From Where You Began -Early pioneers often left with the knowledge that they couldn’t turn back. In our own lives, it might be a moral, ethical, physical, or spiritual reason as to why we cannot turn back, but a pioneer begins their journey to a better future and metaphorically doesn’t look back. So must be our mindset, as we begin our own journeys.
  3. Knowledge That You Might Not Make It To The End, But You Are Willing To Do It Anyway. – In our own journeys, there will likely not be a physical concern of death, but when I think about the tough times where I embarked on something; perhaps it was overcoming a weakness, overcoming a difficult relationship, moving onto a new job, work struggles, going through the adoption process, beginning a new business venture, I can remember thinking to myself, “I don’t know if I can do this.” And there were a few tough times that I can recall thinking and praying, “I don’t know if I can survive this.” It wasn’t doubt in my ability, I actually felt that perhaps my heart would fail and my perseverance would die and I would end up in some vegetative state. I have later learned that it was times like that, when I was uncertain of the outcome, that great rewards were in store for me.
  4. Knowledge That Your Sacrifice Will Make The Life Of Someone Else Better – As I think about some of the pioneers I have mentioned throughout history, I think they all had this knowledge that their sacrifice would be beneficial to others. Our sacrifices and journeys may never be as physically daunting, but the emotional and mental challenges can be similarly daunting for us. Remembering that the sacrifices we make will make the lives others better, can give us hope and endurance to continue on.
  5. Faith That You Actually Can Succeed – The last but most important aspect is faith. Faith that you can succeed, faith that you have the abilities, faith that your vision will endure. If you have a negative attitude of your outcome, than the journey will we all the more difficult.


I think these 5 ideas can help us as we embark to become pioneers and do great things. What pioneer has inspired you throughout history; and what lessons have you learned from them? Please leave a comment below and join the conversation below.

About Todd Nielsen

Todd Nielsen helps organizations create miracles of success and profitability through the power of execution. Having served as Vice-President, President, Chief Operations Officer, Chief Strategy Officer, and Chief Executive Officer of organizations, he has learned how to create a culture that "Gets Things Done." He is passionate about leadership, and is a dynamic and inspirational speaker.


  1. Totally relate to this Todd… It has been and is my journey. Making others lives better is immensely rewarding! Keeping the faith is paramount.

  2. This post touched my heart for my life has definately been a trek off the beaten path but I have been inspired by this post. Thank you!

  3. I like this Todd, especially #4. We all benefit for generations from the work of pioneers.

  4. Hi Todd,

    Delighted to have found your excellent post; I had been browsing the web, searching for some insights and input for the word “pioneer”, and thought your post was excellent.

    From a mindset perspective (that is my field ;-), the amazing and very empowering takeaway is that all of the 5 traits you’ve identified can be modelled (copied), and help us moving forward. So, exciting!


    • Wonderful Frederique,
      I am glad that the post inspired you and gave you some important insight. Best of luck becoming a pioneer in your life. Stay in touch!

      Todd Nielsen

  5. Five great traits, Todd! I especially like your thoughts on how we can pioneer our own path to success via the discovery of these traits. Thank you for sharing this post. 🙂

  6. Those five points are validating.

  7. Amazing things will happen when people proactively develop those 5 traits you mentioned and utilize them in any circumstance.

    🙂 ~Kris

  8. Dan Cristo says:

    You’ve written a really great post here, but I’m hesitant to share soley because the formatting makes it so hard to read. The line spacing is so small, and the lack of headers make it feel like a wall of text.

    Consider bumping up the font size, line spacing and adding headers. It’ll allow those short on time to skim, and it’ll be easier on the eyes for those who read the whole thing.

    • Thanks for the feedback Dan, Currently the site is going through a makeover, to be launched in about a month. Most of my articles are shorter, but this is one I felt needed some length to fully dive into the topic. Font size has not changed on this post, compared to others, but that is one thing we will be changing. Thanks!

  9. This is for me! thanks Todd.

  10. Hi Todd – this is one from the heart… and I really loved it! Thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks John, yes it is and is at the heart of something I have been struggling with. Thanks for sharing it with your friends and followers as well.

  11. Really nice stuff, Todd! Thanks for sharing!

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