During a recent conversation with one of our CEO clients, I saw more deeply into something that I’ve been puzzling about for a long time that was both helpful and a bit entertaining for him. My puzzle has been ‘what makes it so hard for most of us to fully articulate and then share our real dreams with those around us? ‘ What came clear out of our conversation is that there is great personal risk in fully speaking a dream, even to yourself. Our histories, (which we fondly refer to metaphorically at 2130 Partners as “File Cabinets”), have lots of evidence stored in them about things that haven’t turned out, limiting beliefs, and circumstances that will prevent success. These “historical files” may well be aggregated under the section tab called “Impossible.”
Even getting close to speaking about really big dreams often brings up despair and resignation, given the weight of evidence in most people’s “File Cabinets” against these dreams ever coming true.
To avoid the risk and pain of certain failure, people often start to speak predictions, which are dramatically reduced versions of real dreams. These reductions are ones that can likely be realized and if they don’t work out, won’t hurt very much. These reduced dreams can usually be shared with others without fear of ridicule or rejection. Some of us even predict, and work hard to produce more of the same in our lives, since we know we survived our past o.k. - the known is less frightening than the unknown. (A note: Predictability - that’s the middle line of our Leadership Choice Point Model for those of you who have done our programs or read our book.)
So what would really happen if you started sharing the biggest, boldest, riskiest dream for your life that you possibly stand to say out loud? What if you shared it with friends, trusted advisors, and as many others as you can? What if you used the process to discover the worst of what you are afraid will happen if you fall short? Since much of our file cabinets contain beliefs and decisions made in childhood, ask your adult self if you can stand this.
We would suggest that if you do this investigation, the worst case scenario will be something like this: everyone is gathered at your funeral and, when it’s time for your eulogy, the speaker enumerates all the ways you failed to reach your goals and dreams. The audience breaks out in laughter that turns to boos. They are kicking you out of the club! They are going to go off to play without you! Worse, someone shoots a video of the whole scene on their Flip camera and puts it on YouTube for the whole world to see. Soon the whole world is laughing at what a failure you are.
When written out it seems ludicrous doesn’t it? Could the worst case really be anywhere near that bad? Is something like this really what you are afraid of at some deep, dark level?
Is it truly worth it to sell yourself and your life short for some fears, that when faced, are so unlikely to come true? Are you ready to chase this boogieman out from under your bed and start sharing your bold goals and dreams?