“The future belongs to those who believe
in the beauty of their dreams.”
-Eleanor Roosevelt, American Humanitarian
Chip, chip, chip, chip. If you’re not conscious and careful, this could well be the sound of your dreams slowly being ground away into obscurity. At least, that’s the thought I had the other night.
I have to confess to a secret pleasure. Sometimes, when my wife is in Manhattan reviewing a movie, I hunker down in front of a mindless action/adventure television program that I have digitally recorded for just such an occasion. Within reach, rests a note pad where I record any fleeting flashes of creative ideas.
I enjoy this process immensely because it echoes my childhood when my brother and I would sit enthralled in front of the black and white television watching Buck Rogers, Robin Hood and Ramar of the Jungle. As we watched, we dreamed of traveling to outer space, evading strange creatures in far away lands and of being heroes. I can still set part of my mind free as I did as a young boy, to wonder, search and dream.
This particular program I was watching was a three-part reinterpretation the 1967 British TV show, “The Prisoner,” staring Patrick McGoohan. In this remake, a man, known as Six, finds himself inexplicably trapped in ‘The Village’ with no memory of how he arrived. As he explores his environment, he discovers that his fellow inhabitants are identified by number instead of name, have no memory of any prior existence, and are under constant surveillance. Not knowing whom to trust, Six is driven by the need to discover the truth behind The Village, the reason for his being there, and most importantly — how he can escape.
He discovers that those who are suspected of being ‘dreamers’, those who believe there is something more, something outside the norm, something beyond their circumstance, are monitored and – if necessary – taken to an unknown place for treatment. They are never seen again.
The show triggered memories as my thoughts tumbled back to early childhood. These particular recollections were not pleasant. I saw myself being constantly criticized by my teachers for not paying attention and being bullied by fellow classmates for being different. Of course, at the time, I did not understand why. To me, in my daydreaming, I lived in an extraordinary world. I dreamed of being an adventurer, doing great things – free in spirit.
If it wasn’t for my mother, I suspect my life would have turned out quite differently. She observed me carefully and in spite of extreme lack of finances, when she saw the spark of creativity in me, nurtured it. I would suddenly be supplied with the materials to draw and paint, was enrolled for clarinet lessons, dispatched to learn scouting or supported to audition for a play and – on it went. I was not only allowed to dream; I was encouraged to dream.
The problem now is that usually when someone is called a ‘dreamer,’ it carries the negative implication that the individual has set especially high goals that are unrealistic. Yet, just imagine a world without dreamers. Without dreamers, no one would be motivated to accomplish anything. There would be no leaders, no poets, no artists, no astronauts, no inventors and no heroes. Dreamers have always been the architects of the world. Dreamers like Magellan, Copernicus and Columbus not only imagined the worlds, but discovered them, while dreamers like Mother Teresa and Clara Barton impacted the world by turning their dreams into reality with enormous humanitarian impact.
The real question is: Are you willing to dream and take the actions necessary to turn your dreams into reality? Or, are you playing it safe, afraid to leave your zone of comfort and security? Have you compromised your happiness by putting off your dreams with excuses and rationalization? Do you believe that you don’t have the skill, time, money courage, talent or education to achieve your dreams?
Consider the answers to these questions carefully because there’s one thing you definitely do not want to have at the end of your stay on this planet and that is – regret. You have the choice to re-vitalize your ability to dream, go for those dreams and re-invent yourself – now.
My coaching clients have taught me a lot about not only being a dreamer, but also going for those dreams. They have demonstrated that there is no age limit to being a dreamer. They have also shown the courage to let go of their excuses and, when necessary, to let go of the people who are the dream stealers, those who tell them that it is too late or that it can’t be done or that their dream is impractical.
Let me pass on a few simple strategies to help you dream and live an exceptional life.
1) The first thing that I want you to do is set aside 20 minutes to dream everyday – for one week – to ‘daydream’. Take a walk by yourself or close your eyes and listen to music and just – be quiet. You can do this. Keep some paper and a pen with you or use your computer to record your dreams – the ideas or goals – that pop into your head. You will know they are dreams because the mere thought of pursuing them will excite and motivate you.
2) Using all your senses, imagine, feel and visualize yourself achieving whatever you want to do.
3) Think of the big picture and ask yourself, “What would I have to change to have my dream happen and – and am I willing to change it?”
3) Write down the short-term goals that you need to take to achieve your dream. Then choose one simple action step that will propel you towards your dream.
4) Take action and notice how you feel. Keep in mind that there is a fine line between fear and excitement, and sometimes all you have to do is shift your thinking to be both excited and motivated.
5) Involve your closest and most trusted friends and family in your dreams. I guarantee that when you share your dream with the people you trust, you will give that dream a chance for life.
Your dreams are the seeds to unlocking your creativity, motivation and renewal. Ponder the words of Kahlil Gibran, the Lebanese-born American philosophical essayist, novelist and poet, who wrote “I prefer to be a dreamer among the humblest, with visions to be realized, than lord among those without dreams or desires.”
James Mapes is the founder of Quantum Leap Thinking™, creator of The Transformational Coach™, expert on the psychology of “applied imagination,” best-selling author, highly acclaimed business speaker, consultant, seminar leader and personal excellence coach.