One of the most important facets of my life has been my willingness to dream big, and this week I offer you this bit of wisdom in hopes it will inspire you at a time when we need all the inspiration we can get. In our world now, there are so many challenges, so much negativity, heartbreak, and dysfunction that we forget to dream – or it seems naïve or Pollyanna. Yet, what’s missing in our culture now are really big, bold dreams – in other words, a vision that propels us, in our personal lives and in society.
Decades ago, I was propelled into my life of commitment by a dream that at the time seemed impossible: the end of hunger and starvation on the planet. That outcome is not yet accomplished, but huge progress has been made. The fact that The Hunger Project made it a vision for millions of people hastened its status as an “idea whose time has come.”
In my book, Living a Committed Life, I write that, “At this time in history, when we are being called upon to tackle gigantic problems, big dreams may need huge, transformational organizational efforts to execute them.” I offer the example of how John F. Kennedy’s vision of putting a man on the moon and bringing him back safely made human space travel an idea whose time had come. In 1961, none of what was needed for the Apollo mission existed, not the technology or the human capacity. It was an audacious goal with an impossible deadline, yet Kennedy’s commitment launched the unprecedented organization, coordination, and collaboration that was NASA.
Similar huge commitments and efforts are needed now to tackle climate change. Amidst the doom and gloom of the media, people like Paul Hawken have shown how we have everything we need to end the climate crisis in one generation. The solutions exist, and they will make our lives better, not worse. Imagine how quickly we could move if humanity embraced the vision of actually ending the climate crisis!
We tend to hold back on big dreams in our personal lives as well. Our insecurities and self-doubt keep us from envisioning and acting on what we truly want to experience and express in the world. What are the paths or projects you have parked or abandoned because they look too big and too scary? Eleanor Roosevelt asked the question, “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?”
I know that one obstacle that dampens our dreaming is not knowing how. We are afraid to make a commitment because we can’t see how to accomplish it. My experience is that making the commitment is actually what engenders the path to its accomplishment. All manner of ideas and support come our way when we take a stand and give our word. Just for a moment, close your eyes and think of one big dream you have. Hold it in your mind and in your heart. And then ponder this quote from Goethe:
Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it!
Blessings on you and your big dreams,