The reality of it is – and this is something nobody likes to hear – nothing I can say will make you go out and follow your dreams.
No advice I can give you will make you put one foot in front of the other.
I don’t say this to be cruel.
I just want to be up front and honest from the start.
People are incredibly stubborn creatures and really only do things when ready.
At least that’s been my experience…
And it’s a topic I feel I have some insight on, as I had to learn the hard way how to follow my dreams.
In order to explain, I should probably tell you just a little bit of my own story – including stuff that I am going to be sharing in public for the first time.
When I was 17 I dropped out of high school.
For years I felt dejected, like there was no chance for me to do what I dreamed.
I escaped into a world of drinking, drugs, and partying – desperate to find happiness somewhere around the next corner.
I was lost and going nowhere fast.
And of course I had no money.
I even experienced a few brief periods of homelessness.
But the worst part was not the fact that I was broke.
The worst part was that I woke up every day feeling numb and detached, meandering through life without any sense of direction or control.
Luckily for me, in my mid-twenties I woke up and got my act together.
All of a sudden it clicked that no one was going to make my dreams happen for me.
Since that time, I’ve been blessed to do some pretty cool stuff.
While still working full-time I enrolled in community college, from which I transferred to (and graduated from) the University of California, Santa Cruz – earning three college degrees along the way.
I founded an orphanage in Afghanistan, I’ve started successful ventures in business and politics, and now I’ve started this company to help others turn their dreams into realities.
I’m here to help people get unstuck…
Unstuck from having to work at a job they like some days, but could generally do without.
Unstuck from feeling like their dreams are too distant to chase.
Unstuck from the expectations of others.
There are hundreds of thousands (probably millions) of people who wake up each morning feeling the exact…same…way.
Well I’m here to tell you that things can be different.
We can all be living better lives.
We can all be living our dreams.
But first we have to define what that dream is.
And not just in some fluffy “think good things and good things will happen” kind of a way. I’m talking about the pull yourself up by the bootstraps and make things happen approach.
So let’s do that now.
If you could make your job anything in the world, what would it be?
Think of a passion you have that could be used to solve problems for others.
Don’t just try to imagine something others are already doing.
Take a few moments and write down some thoughts if that helps.
Once you’ve got it, imagine being able to do that something every day and make a living at it.
Picture yourself falling asleep at night excited about waking up the next morning because it’s another day to do what you love.
Imagine waking up each morning with excitement in your heart about the day ahead, and finally feeling confident that you are making the world a better place.
So many of us feel detached from what we do at work every day that it often feels like the whole business system is broken….
And that’s probably because it is.
The giant corporations many of us work for are designed to make a few executive types super-rich, while leaving the rest of us wasting away in cubicle farms, yearning for greater purpose.
People tell me all the time about the great ideas they have to start businesses and causes.
When they do, there’s usually this distinct passionate look in their eyes.
Their excitement is contagious and it makes me want to do everything I can to help them succeed.
But there also usually comes a time during those conversations when the fire dies out and the dream comes crashing down to Earth.
That part makes me sad.
Actually, it pisses me off.
Not that I’m mad at the people – far from it.
I get upset because we seem to live in a world where so many people have innovative ideas, yet so few people are able to get out there and do the amazing things they dream.
And that’s a tragedy.
We need people going out and doing bold things to solve all the crazy problems we’re faced with.
In fact, with all the challenges out there, you’d think the world would be full of entrepreneurs.
But it’s not…
The reality is that most people remain unable or unwilling to follow their dreams.
I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out why that is, and I’d like to share what I’ve come up with.
My guess is that if you are someone who has big dreams but isn’t living them, it’s because one or more of the following:
Fear is understandable.
As I’m sure you’ve probably noticed, the economy has been horrible the last five years or so, with a whole lot of folks out there just glad to have a job in the first place.
Taking on the risk of starting some crazy venture is a gamble most folks feel they just can’t take.
I get that.
And I would never ask people to abandon their responsibilities.
I’m a firm believer that there are few things more important in life than being dependable.
Sure, some people can go all-in, quit their job immediately, and work on building a business full-time.
Most people, however, can’t.
The cool thing, is that you don’t have to.
It’s absolutely possible to build a successful enterprise in your spare time.
I’ve done it.
When my team and I decided we wanted to open an orphanage in Afghanistan, we were all either working or going to school (or both). Everything we did to make the project happen was done part-time.
Same thing with the business I’m running now.
When I set it up, I was working a full-time job and completing a graduate degree.
Working in chunks and pieces, I formulated the idea over the course of a year or so and then started taking on business in a way that was controlled and manageable given my other responsibilities.
Similarly, money is not the hurdle most people think it is.
In the age of the Internet, it’s totally possible to do everything you need to grow a business – find a problem that needs solving, develop a solution, and build a community that is willing to pay you for that solution – with very little start-up money.
Of course, fear also goes beyond just being scared for our own financial security.
We’re also scared of screwing up.
It takes a lot of guts to put yourself out there and dangle a new idea in front of the world.
Often it means being doubted, or even worse, being seen as a failure.
I have to tell you though, that life is too damn short to be worried about what other people think of your pursuits.
This is, of course, one of those seemingly simple life mottos that is easy to say but really hard to accept as truth.
It took me years to embrace the idea – and it’s something I still work on every day.
But I’ve found two things that really help.
First, is a little practice somebody way smarter than myself once showed me.
When I have a big decision to make, I like to think about how I will eventually look back on my choice.
I think to myself, in 5, 10, or 20 years from now, what is it that I’ll think was important.
To make this practice most effective, it helps to revisit big decisions you’ve made in the past, comparing what you thought was important then, to what you think is most important looking through your eyes today.
This gives you the chance to filter out the fog we all tend to develop when making big decisions.
Another tool for combating the fear of failure is a realization that most of what determines the outcomes of our lives is not in our direct control.
I’d estimate that at any given time, at least 50% of the factors that determine how my decisions play out are influenced by something other than my own actions.
So why worry about it?
Things will never end up 100% like we planned. EVER.
There are just too many variables.
So let’s all stop considering coming up short of that 100% mark as being failure.
In fact, hitting your target completely in a life goal means you probably played it super safe. Which is fine for some people, but hardly anyone who has done big amazing things has gotten there by taking such a path.
So go out and be bold.
If things start to look different than you expected, adapt.
That’s what success is made from.
We’ve all been there.
But it’s total crap.
Aside from a few areas like sports, if one person can do something, so can another.
Actually, there’s a really easy three stage process for learning how to do pretty much anything.
It goes as follows:
Stage 1: You don’t know how to do something.
Stage 2: You practice doing it.
Stage 3: You know how to do it.
Yah sure, it’s not always easy… But what in life is?
Besides, if you are going to experience the ups and downs of life, it might as well be in the pursuit of something you love.
If you want to be a writer but suck at it… write.
Same thing if you want to be a graphic designer, an investor, a teacher, whatever.
Put in work.
And the rest will follow.
I know that might sound a bit crazy, especially since you probably could go to Facebook right now and find out what the girl who sat next to you in second grade had for breakfast this morning.
But I’m serious.
There’s no more important determining factor for the success of most ventures than the presence of a community.
But for as connected as we think the world is, in some ways we’ve never been so far away from understanding one another.
This is especially true when it comes to business.
The big corporations that dominate today usually see their customers only as numbers on a revenue chart.
That detached view is bad for everyone – for customers, for workers, and for society.
What we need is a new approach that fits our times.
We need to take the business sector back from giant corporations and put it in the hands of innovative small-business entrepreneurs.
We need to focus on building communities to solve problems.
On working to build a shared purpose with one another so we can all live our dreams.
We all have something unique and valuable we want to offer the world, and building a community of customers is the vehicle for turning that dream into an opportunity to get paid doing what you love.
Giving people that chance is my personal mission.
It’s why I developed my free 5 step guide to building a customer community.
I’m dedicated to helping folks like you unleash amazing ideas upon the world.
And I’m sure you have a lot of them.
Otherwise, you probably wouldn’t still be reading this…
So let loose your dreams.
The world needs them.