Do you spend enough time dreaming? What if we all dreamt more?

Dreamin’, I’m always dreamin’.
Dreamin’ love will be mine.
Searchin’, I’m always searchin’.
Hopin’ someday I’ll find,
Someone, someone to love me.
Someone who needs me, but until then,
Well, I’ll keep on dreamin’.
Keep right on dreamin’.
Dreamin’ till my dreamin’ comes true.

“Dreamin”by Johnny Burnette (1960)

The above song was popular when I was in high school and deals with love and longing and dreaming. I can still hear the lyrics and tune today and the theme is rather haunting. “Dreaming, I’m always dreaming.” How many of us are dreamers? Have you ever been called “a hopeless dreamer?” I wonder why you hardly ever hear the term in a more positive sense. We call people hopeless dreamers but what about hopeful dreamers. Martin Luther King’s famous dream speech echoes the hopeful thought that “that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Robert Kennedy said “I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?” Proverbs 29:18 says that “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Where there are no dreams, people are hopeless and aimless.

I have been teaching and consulting for over 25 years now and it is my observation that wherever people have dreams and a vision, there is hope. They say hope springs eternal in the human breast, but I think life tries to beat it out of us. Life seems even more hopeless when we are engaged in “eternal wars.” We suffer from politicians who cannot agree on anything. We read daily of scholars and scientists who keep changing their minds; what was good yesterday is now bad today. I see students in school every day who are bored and see no hope. How many students are asked to dream? Most are told that if they study hard, keep their mouths shut and pay their outrageous tuition, they too may someday share the good life. Where are their dreams?

How many students and employees do you know who go to work or school every day with a dream in their hearts? Perhaps that is why we resonate with the words of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy. How many of you reading this blog have a dream? Is a dream a waste of time? Would a dream help us to transform our lives? Imagine for a second if the goal of government was to help every citizen to transform their dreams into reality? I tell my students and clients that dreams become reality when we set a plan in place to transform our dreams into concrete action items with dates and priorities and sequencing. How many students and employees learn how to do that and are encouraged to do that?

Yesterday, I was substitute teaching for a group of students who had been expelled from their mainstream classes for a variety of reasons. Several of these students had parole officers. You would think given their behavior and attitudes that they would have given up on the idea of a career but that was not the case. One student had to ask five others (as part of an assignment) what they wanted to be when they left school. The answers included: police officer, firefighter, architect, computer game designer and business person. Given that the probability of these students getting into college seemed more remote than their getting into jail; I was touched by their goals and aspirations.

You could argue that they had brought their present circumstances on by their own behavior and you would be right. However, what is the behavior that resulted in their becoming pariahs in the school system? For the record, it was fighting, drugs, disobedience and unwillingness to conform to school rules. Looking beyond these surface reasons, the underlying problems with all of them were boredom and an inability to find any meaning in the traditional school curriculum. I assisted one student with an on-line algebra quiz (he got a 95%) and I could not help but think that I had the same material when I went to high school 47 years ago and have never had to use any of it since then. When was the last time you had to multiply 7 5/33 X 14 2/9? Maybe I am missing something, but I think we are forcing everyone through the same molds and expecting rabbits to fly, ducks to climb, eagles to run and monkeys to swim. We have a one size fits all school program and you either conform, drop out or are kicked out. In too many organizations, employees are hired based on “whether they will fit in or not.” We say we want innovation but then we reward and hire for conformity.

I wonder how many of us would continue to hold onto a dream if we were systematically ostracized by our friends and the community we lived in. What are your dreams? What are your dreams for your country? What are your dreams for your loved ones? How do you plan to help make these dreams a reality? What if you were measured by the breadth of your dreams? How would you stack up?

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. bgalbreath
    Nov 22, 2011 @ 18:57:31

    This is a tricky one for me. If you ask me what my dreams are, I take it to be about the experiences I have at night, while I'm asleep, but in the context as you present it, “my dream” is my biggest desire for myself or the world in general. Some poet said, “A man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for.” I get that, but I find myself more drawn to contentment with and gratitude for what I have. The danger of that approach is complacency and not accomplishing much, but it saves a lot of trouble and heartache, I guess. I stumbled across a quote today from (of all people) Salvador Dali: “Intelligence without ambition is like a bird without wings”. I've had small ambitions, which I have largely fulfilled and some very grandiose ones (enlightenment) which I haven't. But I've never gotten the knack of those mid-size ambitions that lead some to make a mark on the world. Yet, for all that, I consider myself a happy person, with relatively few regrets.



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