March 24, 2014

8 Steps From Dream To Reality

 Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird, that cannot fly.
-Langston Hughes

In December I attended an amazing musical performance.  Above the wonder that I experienced musically, was the overwhelming feeling of being part of the unfolding of a dream. The thought of it made me ponder the alchemy of dreams.  How do they start, what is the process that makes them come true? (Spoiler isn't wishing!)

This particular dream consisted of over 200 choir and orchestra members, all volunteers, all strangers - all of them waiting to be pulled together into something wonderful.

This dream belonged to a woman named Beth, who had attended this same musical presentation across the country.  Being moved by the performance, she imagined how lovely it would be to recreate it as a Christmas gift for her own community.  At that moment, this event in her community didn't exist anywhere except in her mind. As she shared her dream with others it began to gather steam fueled by passion. Dates were set, a theater booked and little by little all of the details began to fall into place until a full blown musical extravaganza popped out on the other end.

People came together to create a community that consisted of wide ranging musical abilities. Suddenly there was a choir and orchestra where just weeks before, no choir or orchestra existed. (except for in the thought of them.)  It's as though the thought had power to pull them from wherever they were to where they were needed.

Even the audience members were drawn into the idea and were pulled from the many places they could otherwise have been to be seated in that auditorium to witness and enjoy this spectacular musical offering.  Consider it!  There was no performance.  There was no choir.  There was no orchestra and Beth, who ended up directing the event wasn't even a director before the idea took root and pulled them all together.

Everything around us, including this keyboard I'm clacking away on right now, came into being from what was first just an idea.  If you're sitting on a chair right now or are reading this on your cellphone, you're sitting on or reading from a dream that became reality.  It's something that's so mind boggling and yet, we sit on chairs, clack on keyboards and use cellphones day in and day out, taking no notice of it, all the while believing our dreams, can't come true??  What's with that?

So, when we talk about the alchemy of dreams, let's see from the example above if we can get it broken down into it's components.

1. A THOUGHT  It all started with just a thought - an idea.  It may be intangible but within a thought lies all possibility.  Without a thought, or idea, there's nothing to build on.  I don't even want to count how many times I've had a great idea that never got out of diapers.  Later I find that someone else had the same great idea, except they didn't stop there. They used the steps below and called it into reality.

2. CLARITY  Beth knew exactly what she wanted to do.  She wanted to bring that exact performance to her own community.  It wasn't vague. She knew exactly what it would look like and her thoughts were of recreating the vision she saw in her mind.

3. ACTION Take the first step. We don't need to know all the steps and usually we can't know even the next step until the first step is taken. Bringing together over 200 people from various walks of life and getting them to buy into a vision, then convincing them to volunteer countless hours of their time didn't for free happen by accident.  It took doing something. I'm told Beth, with others, visited over 500 local churches promoting the idea and looking for people to participate.  None of that could have happened without the first step being taken.

4. FAITH We have to believe in our dream.  If Beth hadn't believed - completely - that there was indeed an orchestra and choir of people just waiting for a place to come together, she wouldn't have taken the first step toward locating and marshaling them.

5. PATIENCE We have to be patient with the process.  Nothing monumentally worthwhile will ever happen overnight.  In all of the details that had to be worked out in order to make Beth's dream a reality, I'm sure there were setbacks all over the place.  Try outs, finding a venue, getting stage help, funding the project, practice schedules, and marketing, are all parts of what needed to be done to make the project succeed.  Any one of those could have been overwhelming without patience.

6. PERSISTENCE  We have to be willing to keep going forward not matter what.  It's been said that anyone can succeed with persistence alone.  Persistence will wear down the biggest obstacle.  Imagine the tiny drip of water that persists to break down a huge rock.  Each drop might not seem like it's doing much, but the persistence of the dripping will surely see it's efforts rewarded. The moral: keep dripping!

7. DETERMINATION  We have to decide not to quit.  It's this do or die attitude that absolutely refuses to acknowledge defeat that finally turns dreams into reality.  Beth decided she would bring this musical gift to her community.  When she made that decision, there was no going back.  She didn't have all the details worked out at that point.  She couldn't have imagined the countless details that even needed to be worked out.  If she had, she might have thrown her hands up and given up right then.  We also must just be determined to start and keep going.

8. VISION  We have to see past what's "in front of us" to what's "coming soon." Focusing on her vision of the end result allowed Beth to push past the obstacles.  Vision will keep passion alive when the dirty work threatens to kill it.  Vision also drowns out the voices of "well meaning" doomsayers and non believers, and I promise all of them believe they are well meaning!

Dreams do become realities.  Our lives are surrounded by evidence of it every minute.  I guess the decision we have to make is whether we are willing to combine our dreams with clarity, action, faith, patience, persistence, determination, and vision to make them come true.  If not, maybe our dreams aren't big enough!  Small dreams that lead to small outcomes and will only stir small passion.  It takes a great dream mixed with the above ingredients to generate great passion.  My challenge for us all, is to dream great dreams. Then get to work!

Your dream could change our world, and it will, without a doubt, change yours!

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