Harry Chapin wrote and sang a song: As Dreams Go By.
I urge you to listen to the lyrics. It is the story of a couple who had dreams about their future but never acted on those dreams. Near the end of the song:
You say you should have been a ballerina, babe
There are songs I should have sung
But I guess our dreams have come and gone
You’re ‘sposed dream when you are young
I owed at least part of my success practicing law to the fuel coming out of my dreams. Unlike the couple in the song, I acted on those dreams.
In my case, when I was a junior partner, my dream was to become the best lawyer on transportation construction projects (highways, rail, airports, mass transit) in North America. I was told by other lawyers that my dream was stupid and that I should stick to commercial litigation.
When I left my law firm in 2004 to become a coach and mentor to lawyers and law firms my dream was to reach out and inspire young lawyers on what they could achieve and coach them to achieve it. Again I wanted to become the best in North America. My partners at Jenkens & Gilchrist told me I was crazy to be giving up my lucrative law practice at the peak of my career.
I understood their point, but I followed my dream of teaching and coaching young lawyers. While my dreams focused on becoming the best at something, in truth the I was focused on the journey of striving to be the best, not reaching the end result.
Years ago when I was coaching I read a great book titled: Overachievement by John Eliot.
Eliot believes that all great performers have extraordinary dreams. He says:
Dreams make you click, juice you, turn you on, excite the living daylights out of you. You cannot wait to get out of bed to continue pursuing your dream. The kind of dream I am talking about gives meaning to your life. It is the ultimate motivator.
He describes the story of Michael Dell fixing computers in his garage with a dream of competing with IBM in the computer market. When Michael thought of dropping out of the University of Texas and told his parents what he wanted to do, imagine what they said. His father did not think that was funny.
Eliot describes the story of Richard Branson. What do you think people told Richard Branson when he decided to compete with British Air? Elliot ends the chapter by saying:
The kind of dream I am talking about is a feeling that excites you, that sticks, that propels you and gives meaning to your life.
For me, that was powerful stuff. I had those kinds of dreams long before reading the book, but reading it helped me understand what enabled me to persist when I wasn’t seeing results.
So, Dream big dreams. As an unknown author once said,
“The bigger you dream, the higher you go.”