We all dream whether it’s daydreaming or in our sleep… we don’t always remember those dreams but we do it… And then we have dreams… dreams about our life, the lives and futures of those dearest to us, our environment and the world as a whole… So why do we often put our dreams in a box that’s only opened when we think we have time and then close the lid again when busyness or business comes knocking?
One of my friends recently wrote that she’s fed up with playing small and realised that she’s been encouraged play small by those around her… for some reason, it serves them that she does it in her personal and business life. And it occurred to me that if we put our dreams in a box until we think we have the time then we are stifling those dreams, whatever they may be, and ourselves and effectively playing small.
I know that one of my clients has a big and exciting box of dreams, they leave the lid open for a while and then get caught up in busyness and business when they shut the lid again and then wonder why they, and everything, feels off. And that’s because the box of dreams is what really makes his heart sing, gets the adrenaline flowing and the ideas but there are others who are still playing small and so forcing everyone else in the business to do so…
On the other hand, a friend of mine has never played small, it’s all about the long game and he’s been working on that long game for several years and it’s all perfectly falling into place. Of course, there have been long hours and not everything has gone right first time but those setbacks have been used to improve, innovate and make the dream and the end result stronger.
He may not see it as dreams being fulfilled but more as the plan is coming together but isn’t that really semantics? He is fulfilling a well articulated and scoped vision and it’s one that is about benefiting others in different ways which will indeed be financially fruitful. However, when you talk to him the financial benefit is almost an afterthought – isn’t that one of the characteristics of the great dreamers and business visionaries?
Maybe from time to time we think we have to play small whilst we get through a particular situation but there’s a danger that in doing so we forget to start playing big again. And so our dreams stay in the box gathering dust.
But it’s our dreams that help form our ideas, then our ideas become strategies and tangible things and events i.e. reality. We realise the dreams and have more dreams. And it’s a great cycle for life, business and more. You see when we act on dreams they fuel us; they nourish us in ways that we forget about when we are playing small. And we and our business and those around us thrive through realising those dreams.
And no matter who we are in our lives or our business we need that encouragement, nourishment, and feeling of achievement and success. It’s not about fuelling the ego but fuelling us a person, getting into the flow zone, leaving the comfort zone (which is invariably uncomfortable zone) and taking a step forward into the not completely known.
Another friend shared his thoughts on what he calls ‘the million pound problem’, where businesses have hit £1m turnover, with a healthy profit and cash flow, and then plateaued because they are caught up in all the things they didn’t have to do when the business was small. So the busyness and business means they’re playing smaller than they were before, doing things they don’t enjoy doing and have very often lost sight of why they got into that business in the first place. And of course, the contents of their box of dreams become a more distant memory too. And the thing is what’s needed is staring straight at them but they can’t see it… or as another wise woman says ‘its right on the end of their nose’.
But it takes someone to point it to them and then get them back on the track of their dreams, stopping playing small, and doing the things that will take them forward whilst they allow others, who have different dreams, to take on the busyness of the day to day business tasks. Yes, it’s an investment, and probably means letting go of the reins a little but the benefits of the business moving to where it can be through re-opening their box of dreams massively outweigh that investment.
But opening our box of dreams and stopping playing small can take courage as it may truly mean putting our head above the parapet and sharing those dreams, visions, and ideas to a level that we haven’t really done before.
The dreams maybe very personal and others very business focused but realising them will enable many other dreams, not just for us but potentially others too. Others might see our dreams as altruistic but that’s only because they aren’t seeing or feeling the same dreams and visions that we do; they tend to think that people should play smaller. Maybe it’s part of turning our dreams into reality that we change the views of others and then they too want to stop playing so small…
Would Branson have achieved so much if he had left the lid on his dreams and played small? How many people have benefitted from his dreams whether it’s through the businesses he founded or partnered with or the philanthropic work he’s done?
Who would your role model be? Who do you respect and admire who has played big and not kept the lid on their box of dreams?
And you know what if we show that we aren’t prepared to keep the lid on our dreams then the impact on those around us could be immense. Of course, the usual day-to-day things will be done but what if there were no limits, no boundaries, and our dreams were the reality? What would life be like? And if that also includes those dreams we have about a better world for our children and their children then how does that feel?
As Gloria Steinem once said “without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.”
So let’s get planning and let loose the lid on our box of dreams…