“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined.” – Henry David Thoreau
There’s a commercial that starts off, “At their very core, dreams are what define you, empower you and make you happy.”
It closes by reminding us that our dreams are the most valuable thing we we will ever own, and we need to protect them.
It’s true. But to tap the power of our dreams, let’s really step into why it’s worth it.
Dreams breathe life into everything we do.
You can use your dreams to inspire yourself, to shape your life, and to do what makes you come alive.
In his book, Your Road Map for Success, John Maxwell shares what he’s learned about the power of dreams to shape our goals, to shape our work, and to shape our lives.
The Power of a Dream
You don’t just think a dream. You feel it in your bones and in your heart.
“I believe that each of us has a dream placed in the heart. I’m not talking about wanting to win the lottery.
That kind of idea comes from a desire to escape our present circumstances, not to pursue a heartfelt dream.
I’m talking about a vision deep inside that speaks to the very soul. It’s the thing we were born to do.
It draws on our talents and gifts. It appeals to our highest ideals.
It sparks our feelings of destiny. It is inseparably linked to our purpose in life.
The dream starts us on the success journey.”
A Dream Gives Us Direction
Our dreams act as a compass and help us choose a path, among our many options. Dreams shape our choices that shape our way forward.
“Have you ever known a person who didn’t have a clue concerning what she wanted in life, yet was highly successful?
I haven’t either. We all need something worthwhile to aim for.
A dream provides us with that.
It acts as a compass, telling us the direction we should travel.
And until we’ve identified that right direction, we’ll never know for sure that our movement is actually progress.
Our actions are just as likely to take us backward instead of forward.
It you move in any direction other than toward your dream, you’ll miss out on the opportunities necessary to be successful.”
A Dream Increases Our Potential
Dreams help us realize our potential and to tap into our greatest resources within us, and around us.
”Without a dream, we may struggle to see potential in ourselves because we don’t look beyond our current circumstances.
But with a dream, we begin to see ourselves in a new light, as having a greater potential and being capable of stretching and growing to reach it.
Every opportunity we meet, every resource we discover, every talent we develop, becomes a part of our potential to grow toward that dream.
The greater the dream, the greater the potential.
E. Paul Hovey said, ‘A blind man’s world is bounded by the limits of his touch; an ignorant man’s world by the limits of his knowledge, a great man’s world by the limits of his vision.’
If your vision–your dream–is great, then so is your potential for success.”
A Dream Helps Us Prioritize
Dreams help us weight our choices and make trade-offs based on what we truly value, and what really matters to us.
“A dream gives us hope for the future, and it also brings us power in the present.
It makes it possible for us to prioritize everything we do.
A person who has a dream knows what he is willing to give up in order to go up.
He is able to measure everything he does according to whether or not it contributes to the dream, concentrating his attention on the things that bring him closer to it and giving less attention to everything that doesn’t.”
A Dream Adds Value to Our Work
The same job takes on new meaning when we add emotion and add vision and bring our dreams to life.
“A dream puts everything we do into perspective. Even the tasks that aren’t exciting or immediately rewarding take on added value when we know they ultimately contribute to the fulfillment of a dream.
Each activity becomes an important piece in that bigger picture.
It reminds me of the story of a reporter who talked to three construction workers pouring concrete at a building site, ‘What are you doing?’ he asked the first worker, ‘I’m earning a paycheck he grumbled.’
The reporter asked the same question of a second laborer, who looked over his shoulder and said, ‘What’s it look like I’m doing? I’m pouring concrete.’
Then he noticed a third man who was smiling and whistling as he worked. ‘What are you doing/’ he asked the third worker.
He stopped what he was doing and said excitedly, ‘I’m building a shelter for the homeless.‘
He wiped his hands clean on a rag and then pointed, ‘Look, over there is where the kitchen will be. And that over there is the women’s dormitory. This here …’
Each man was doing the same job. But only the third was motivated by a larger vision. The work he did was fulfilling a dream, and it added value to all his efforts.
Vince Lombardi stated, ‘I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour–his greatest fulfillment to tall he holds dear–is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the file of battle–victorious.’
A dream provides the perspective that makes that kind of effort possible.”
A Dream Predicts Our Future
We create our future by chasing our dreams, and it’s what we become in the pursuit of our dreams, that makes the journey worth it.
“Katherine Logan said, ‘A vision foretells what may be ours. It is our invitation to do something.
With a great mental picture in mind we go from one accomplishment to another, using the materials about us only as stepping-stories to that which is higher and better and more satisfying.
We thus become possessors of the unseen values which are eternal.’
When we have a dream, we’re not just spectators sitting back hoping that everything turns out all right.
We’re taking an active part in shaping the purpose and meaning of our lives.
And the winds of change don’t simply blow us here and there.
Our dream, when pursued, is the most likely predictor of our future.
That doesn’t mean we have any guarantees, but it does increase our chances for success tremendously.”
Dare to Act on Your Dreams
Don’t let your dreams sit on the shelf. Live them. Breathe them. Be that change you always wanted.
“Dare to dream and act on that dream. Do it in spite of problems, circumstances, and obstacles.
History is filled with men and women who faced adversity and achieved success in spite of it.
For example, the Greek orator Demosthenes stuttered! The first time he tried to make a public speech, he was laughed off the rostrum.
But he had a dream of being a notable speaker.
He pursued that dream and grew toward his potential.
It is said that he used to put pebbles in his mouth and practice speaking over the sound of the crashing surf at the seashore. H
is persistence paid off. He lived his dream: He became the greatest orator of the ancient world.
Others dared to dream and became successes.
Napoleon, despite humble parentage, became an emperor. Beethoven brought to life his inner vision for music when he composed symphonies, even after he lost his hearing.
Charles Dickens dreamed of becoming a writer and became the most-read novelist in Victorian England–despite being born into poverty.
Oliver Wendell Holmes noted, ‘The great thing in this world is not so much where we are but in what direction we are moving.’
This is also one of the great things about having a dream. You can pursue your dream no matter where you are today.
And what happened in the past isn’t as important as what lies ahead in the future.
As the saying goes, ‘No matter what a person’s past may have been, his future is spotless.’
You can being pursuing your dream today!”
Dream Big Again
You’re not a little kid anymore.
The bad news is, you might have forgotten how to dream.
The good news is, you can always remember how, if you want to.
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Image by Greg Westfall.