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“I Have a Dream” is one of my favorite Martin Luther King speeches. There is one quote in particular that really moves me – “We have come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now.”
The fierce urgency of now – what a compelling thought.
I love this because I think Dr. King was telling us we need to be leaders who dream, but also leaders who take action. That is the hardest part, right? We all have dreams, but making them a reality is so hard.
We have countless excuses that hold us back like…
- “I’m busy with living life right now so I can’t make a dream happen.”
- “I’m worried I’m going to fail.” or
- “I’m worried about what other people will think of my bold ideas.”
You can’t let excuses hold you back.
My question for you is this – do you have a dream? Do you have something you want to make a reality? Could 2017 be the year you make it happen?
I’d like to share three steps that I hope can help you make your dreams a reality.
1. Just get started – Take the first step – that’s where it all begins. I remember when I knew I wanted to build a company. I slid a proposal across the desk to my boss and asked him to be my first client. It wasn’t until I had the courage to make the ask that it had actually happened. Of course, I didn’t know how to start a business – I had to figure out how to do that! But at least I got started.
The same thing is true when I decided to write my book. I thought about it for years, but until I sat down and wrote chapter one I didn’t have a book in the works. You need to take that first step, and the rest will take care of itself once you’re rolling.
2. Deal with the uncertainty – One of the things that holds us back is our fear of the unknown and our anxiety about what might happen. We come up with plan B and plan C. It’s OK to have plans for things but you must accept that you won’t ever really know what’s going to happen. That’s part of it.
Being a journey-minded leader means you’re willing to live with the tension of uncertainty and tell yourself, “I don’t really know what’s going happen, but I am talented and capable enough to learn as I go. I’ve got smart people around me who will help me, and I know I can figure out what I don’t know once I’m moving forward.”
3. Live with no regrets – I don’t know if you’re a country music fan, but there’s a song I really love by Tim McGraw called “Live Like You Were Dying.” It’s a very moving song because it’s a story of a man who figures out that he’s getting ready to die. He begins to think about how he wants to live life in those last few days – and of course, he wants to live life to the full!
Nobody gets to their death bed and thinks “Gosh, I wish I’d been more conservative in my life.” No, we wish we’d taken more risks, stepped out of our comfort zone. We wish we’d taken that leap of faith. We wish we’d love sweeter, and we wish we’d given more forgiveness. These are all the things that make life rich and full!
So don’t wait until it’s too late. Don’t live with regrets. Could you become an entrepreneur? Could you write a book? Whatever your dream is, don’t look back and regret that you never took that chance.
I want to close with a quote that I included in my book, Leading Through the Turn. I won’t tell you the whole story around the quote, although that story’s one of my favorites in the book (hint – it’s in Chapter 11).
But I will tell you why this quote means so much to me. Someone shared it with me when I needed it most – and he didn’t know how badly I needed to hear it. I was really at one of the lowest points in my life, and this quote spoke to me in such a powerful way.
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
The lesson for us is this: Get and stay in the arena. That’s where all the action is anyway.
When my friend gave me the gift of that quote, I actually got up out of my chair and took action that changed my life. I wanted to be in the arena fighting for my dreams, not just sitting on the sidelines!
What about you? Where do you want to be? Why not make 2017 the year your dreams become a reality?
It’s up to you. Go make it happen!
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