Is it OK to dream? I mean, really, should we take time to dream about what we hope to achieve, where we hope to go, what we envision we’ll be doing in 5 years, etc.? Or, is it better that we just focus on what is ahead of us today? George Carlin, the comedian, had this to say about dreaming:
“Some people see things that are and ask, Why? Some people dream of things that never were and ask, Why not? Some people have to go to work and don’t have time for all that.” – George Carlin
So, is Carlin right? Should we leave the dreaming to someone with fewer things on their “to do” list?
Personally, I have always been a dreamer of sorts. I cannot visit the Missouri Botanical Garden without coming home with ideas on how to convert our boring backyard into a tourist attraction. I’m always cooking up fantastic adventures with our grandchildren that involve treehouses, fording rivers, or riding exotic animals. However, I usually return quickly to reality when I start formulating the “how to” plan. So, is it good to be a dreamer? Is there any value with having that sense of wonder, adventure, and imagination that typifies many dreamers? Well, yes, of course, being a dreamer is good. Whether you are in a corporate or work setting or just being a member of a vibrant family, dreaming can be beneficial. Let’s look at a few reasons we should ALL be dreamers:
- Dreamers think out-of-the-box – Most dreamers hate to be confined with the dogma of “we’ve always done it that way.” In fact, dreamers often want to do things different “just because.” If you need unique approaches or thinking that breaks the rules of convention, bring a dreamer to the table. Have that ability to see things that others cannot or choose not to see is highly valuable when approaching problems, working to improve something, or just desiring to try something new.
- Dreamers aren’t satisfied with the status quo – A dreamer thrives on change. The status quo is not a place most dreamers hope to be. They intentionally look for ways to do things differently in ways that make things better, faster, cheaper, or more convenient.
- Dreamers add a spice to life – Dreamers are usually the “fun” people in any crowd. They are continually seeking ways to make things more enjoyable, more productive, or more collaborative.
- Dreamers inflict a sense of adventure (e.g., risk-taking) – Dreamers are not afraid to take a reasoned risk. Their desire to get out of the normal rut of life takes them to places where some risks may be encountered that others find uncomfortable. Dreamers have a sense of living life fully and, thus, seek new and different pathways.
- Dreamers are often excellent leaders – Because dreamers can see things others may not, they tend to be excellent leaders. After all, a key attribute of a leader is to create a vision of a future desired state. Dreamers are not constrained by the dogma of convention, history, or expectations and can often create a vision that drives greater results.
- Dreamers expand the horizons of others – Dreamers help others grow. They help others think differently and with fewer limitations. They expand possibilities and free the thinking process.
- Dreamers can take you where others dare not go – In short, dreamers can take you where others may not be capable of taking you. They can accomplish things others cannot imagine. They are creative and innovative in ways that move us all forward.
However, there are risks with dreamers that must be mitigated. You cannot just be a dreamer at the expense of everything else. There are some things you must remember when either dealing with a dreamer or things dreamers must do to ensure they remain effective:
- Being a dreamer is not an excuse to accomplish what is needed – There are times to dream and times to get things done. We must fulfill our responsibilities and the expectations others place on us. We cannot allow our dreams to derail the job at hand. Dreaming is a privilege that must be balanced with responsibilities.
- Not every dream of a dreamer is practical or can be implemented – As you might have guessed, my backyard does not look like the Missouri Botanical Garden. Dreamers must realize that not everything is practical or even wanted or needed.
- Dreaming must be balanced with pragmatism – A team consisting of all dreamers is a team destined to fail. So, it is imperative that we ensure an appropriate balance of dreamers with pragmatists.
So, go ahead, be a dreamer. But, be sure you don’t allow that to be an excuse to sit on the sidelines when there is work to do. Offer your thoughts, be opinionated, but be reasonable. Be open, but be practical. It is OK to dream… after all, we might still be using a large, clunky telephone in a bag without the dreamers of the past.
To all the current and wannabe dreamers in the crowd, thank you! Have a great and productive day!