These past few weeks something has really been stirring inside me. It’s been a dream. We all have dreams that we’re given. That’s my firm belief. Something that we were meant to do. But so many times in this idea of dreaming, we get caught in what that selfie-snap shot should look like to others and not so much the voice that first spoke inside us. This is not a new phenomenon brought on by the innovation of social media. It just became a little more intense with it.
You see when a dream is just being whispered inside our hearts, it’s small. It excites us. It makes us come alive. Why is that? Because the author of our souls has written that dream on our hearts. The one that brought life to us has brought this dream to life in our hearts. Some think about these thinks. Some jump in with both feet. But it’s this spark, this seed that I want to talk about today, because it’s very important. This thing. This dream that is birthed inside us is begging us to take action, to take the first step. And some brave souls will take the first step. And then another. And then another. Until one day we forget about that day and the dream and the seed. And we begin to formulate plans, compare notes, and make that “destination” the end all be all. The end all be all to our faith in the dream. We think about how that dream should look. We worry about how others perceive us in our pursuit of the dream. The dream becomes a destination. But the problem is the dream, the seed you were given never was a place. It never was a thing. It was a path.
This week I’ve been reading “Find Your Way” by Carly Fiorina. There are many books I’ve read since this journey begin October of last year, and while they all add value this one I could quite frankly say has been life changing. When I lived in Nashville, everyone there had a dream. We wanted to be songwriters, singers, and musicians. We wanted the platinum album, the Billboard charts, and of course the record deal. Then when the business tells you you’re too old, too rock, too weird, or you just don’t fit in it’s tough. The gatekeepers are the judges and so you just keep honing your craft. But still it could be “not what they’re looking for”. And then what? You’ve spent your heart and soul (literally) into songs and that ‘one thing’ is gone. We fall victim to “the thing that will change everything” mentality. As Carly Fiorina puts it, “We focus on that ‘one thing’ – whatever it is – convinced in our hearts and minds that it will get us going again. But that one thing, though perhaps alluring, isn’t magical. There is only so much that a new direction can accomplish. The dirty little secret of a ‘destination mind-set’ – of living life on plan – is that it fails to deliver what it promises. Not just occasionally, but every time.“¹
So what really happens when the dreams, we thought we’d been given don’t come to pass? What are we left with? A crushed spirit? A lack of self worth? Feeling less than? The only reason why I can say these things is because I’ve lived it. Carly explains believing in the plan like this, “Truth be told, signing up for ‘the plan’ really is dangerous business, and such side effects are truer than we know. Why? Because if we reach our destination but can’t maintain our position there, we’re prone to self-destruction; if we reach our destination but find it unfulfilling and not as we’d hoped, we wrestle with paralyzing disillusionment; and if we fail to ever reach our destination at all, we suffer despair that can take us down fast. At some point, these destinations take on a life of their own and start controlling the process we mistakenly believed we were directing.”² When plans don’t pan out and we don’t reach our so called destination that doesn’t really exist, what then? Do we question the dream? Do we question the one who put the dream in our hearts?
I had an epiphany as they usually come in the most unsuspecting places. This week my wife and I saw an old favorite movie at Films on the Lawn at Philbrook Museum of Art. The movie was “Field of Dreams”. I’ve watched this movie a hundred times, but in the context of reading Carly’s book, I saw it in a completely different light. Have you ever had that happen to you? A song you hear or a movie you’ve seen, a book you’ve read, but this time you glean something completely new and spectacular from it?
So there we were siting amongst the fire flies on the lawn of a breathtaking garden that was previously owned by Waite Phillips getting ready to watch Field of Dreams. While outside laying on a blanket on the lawn you really felt like you were on the grass with Shoeless Joe Jackson, Moonlight Graham, and Ray. I started thinking about how it was called Field of Dreams (not Field of Dream) because many people’s dreams were realized due to one man following through on that still small voice. Okay, so it was a creepy voice from the cornfields, but you get what I mean. Terrance Man was able to write again about baseball, his passion. Moonlight Graham got to wink at the pitcher and have a major league at bat. Shoeless Joe was able to play the sport he loved. And Ray was able to reconnect with his Dad.
But here’s something else that hit me. There wasn’t just one voice. There wasn’t just one seed and one dream. And even though he was frustrated about it, that voice, that guidance kept giving him clues as to what to do next. And I think that this is where we loose out when we dream sometimes. We hear that voice deep inside us. We get that vision for a dream. It’s not fully shaped, but it excites us none the less. Then we go out and we shape our expectations of what that dream should look like, going off our thoughts, other’s thoughts, everyone else’s thoughts but the one who gave us the dream to begin with. Then we get mad because things don’t happen the way we think they should and are worried about what others think of us as well. Then we have the nerve to blame the one who gave us the seed, the dream to begin with. Or worse yet, lose faith. Lose faith in the dream giver. Lose faith in ourselves. Lose faith in others.
The tragedy is that our hearts then become closed to further seeds, further dreams. In the field of dreams each time Ray heard another voice, he went seeking for answers. He went seeking for their meaning and did the work. At one point he even was confronted by Shoeless Joe for trying to force his view of what he thought he deserved. Each clue that Ray got took another move into faith. In Carly’s book Find Your Way, she stresses, “We need to shift from the fretfulness of living on plan to the fulfillment of living on path.“³ I have felt a total weight lifted with this small piece of wisdom. Our dreams are not a destination. They are not a place we arrive. They are not marked by likes or accomplishments. Everyone of our dreams is a path that takes the faith to step out and do, the courage to push through, and the wisdom to vigilantly seek.
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Vigilant Poster Girl
Every week I talk about a book that we’re reading on leadership and self-development. You can follow along by going to the Book of the Week page at the top.