Too many of us place our hopes and dreams in the unreliable hands of luck, but the world’s most rapidly successful people take luck into their own hands. – Shane Snow
If your dream is easily attainable, it is not big enough. That isn’t to diminish anyone’s passion, but a dream should inspire you. A dream should be kind of scary. You shouldn’t know exactly how you’re going to do it or get there.
Big, impossible dreams do come true, but they shouldn’t be fantasies or impossible either. Great leaders also recognize that the journey is part of the dream and rarely does someone make it to their dream without enjoying the journey along the way.
That’s why it is important to always be thinking about and taking the next step to achieve your dream, but please don’t settle. It is easy to get comfortable along the way, where you reach a point that your dream seems so far away and you decide you no longer want to give up your comforts in life to go after something uncertain.
Even worse, maybe you’ve already met your dream and you don’t know what to dream for again. I see more leaders fall off the leadership path because they reach their dream too early and then they don’t know how to expand and dream bigger. One of our challenges as leaders is to constantly be asking ourselves and challenging each other, “What is your next dream? And, what is your plan to get there?”
At Southwest Michigan First, we coach our teammates and those we work with to have great dreams, but to also be perceptive to what their dreams indicate about their leadership. For example, if someone tells me that their dream is to be president of the United States, I will always ask them, “Why?” In the next 40 years, we’ll have just 5 to 10 presidents of the 300 million plus people living in America. It’s not that it isn’t achievable if that really is the dream, but many times, that is just a mask that is covering up deeper desires.
For example, your real desire may be to have influence or that you’re passionate about ending childhood poverty issues. It’s almost an oversimplification to think that if you are the president of the United States, then you can solve child poverty or whatever issue is important to you.
My question back is always, “Who else could solve poverty issues?” Frankly, if your passion is around a specific issue, you can have real impact faster working at a smaller, more local level than you ever could as president. We have to be willing to ask the why of our dreams.
I’ve often said I want to be a U.S. Ambassador when I’m done with my career. Why? I want to represent America because I think it truly is the best place in the world. But, realistically, I could do that in a lot of ways. I could do that as a president of a major foundation or by writing a book that is distributed globally. My dream is to have that kind of impact. My dream is not necessarily to have that job. As leaders and people we tend to gravitate towards what is easy to hold, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s your real dream.
Question: What dreams are you chasing? Are they the right dreams or just what’s easy to hold?