What is your dream? What is your purpose or your cause? What do you dream of doing or becoming? Whether you realize it or not, you do have a dream. Buried deep within each of us is a dream. A seed is first buried in the soil, where it receives nourishment. As it is nourished, it begins to grow, and as it grows it eventually produces fruit. Your dream is the seed and you are the soil, the actions you take to ensure that you fulfil your dream is the nourishment. Of course, without nourishment the seed remains just a seed and it produces nothing. Likewise, without taking the necessary action to support and nourish your dream, it remains, just a dream. There are times however when our dreams are threatened. That is what we want to discuss today. Beware of dream killers!
Stories are often used to teach life lessons, and to help make a lesson or point more concrete. Therefore, I find the parable of the Sower and the Seed, found in Matthew Chapter 13:4:9, useful for demonstrating my point. You don’t share Christian beliefs? That is okay, my goal here is not to preach to you or convert you, but rather about inspiration and real life application.
The story is about a farmer who went out to sow seeds. Some of the seeds fell on the road and the birds came and ate them up. Some fell on rocky ground, where there was not enough dirt, even though they began to grow quickly, when the blazing sun came they died because they did not have deep roots. Some fell on among thorny weeds, but the weeds grew and stifled the young plants. Some seeds fell on good ground, where they grew and produced many fruit.
Dream Killer #1 – Adversities
Life is such that even though it is filled with many good things, it is also filled with many adversities. At some point in our life, we all face adversity, in one way or the other. When this happens it is easy for us to become discouraged. Nothing seems to make sense and we lose hope and interest in those things that are important and that mean a lot to us. We could feel like giving up. Adversities can threaten our dreams.
Adversities represent the thorny weeds in our story, which stifled the growing seeds. Recently I had the experience of cutting the grass on a plot of land. I noticed how the grass had grown very high and was stifling a lime tree. The tree had a few fruits on it, but the tall grass growing around it was sapping up much needed nutrients and sunlight and threatening its survival. Adversities are like that, they can stifle and threaten our dreams, but only if we let them. Adversity adds experience, strength and color to our lives. Allow it to do so, but also be aware of its potential to kill your dream. Do not allow adversity to kill your dream! Instead, let it fuel your dream, let it drive you. Determine that you will follow your dream in spite of the adversities you may face.
You may also want to read this related post.
Dream Killer #2 Lack of a Clearly Articulated Dream
In his book, Start with Why, Simon Sinek says, “very few people or companies can clearly articulate Why they do What they do. By Why, I mean your purpose, cause or belief.” If you have not clearly articulated your dream, that dream is under threat. You need to be clear as to what you want to achieve and why you want to achieve it. Once you do, you know where to put your focus, resources and your strengths.
I liken this threat to the seeds that fell on rocky ground and began to grow, but because the roots did not go deep, when the blazing sun came the plants died. The blazing sun can be likened to distractions. When our dream or our purpose, or as Sinek says, our Why, is not clear, we can become easily distracted; spending our time and our energy in ways that do not serve us or our true purpose or dream.
Take time in the upcoming weeks to clearly articulate your dream and your why. I recommend Simon Sinek’s book Start With Why and the follow up work book Find your Why, for some further insight and guidance on this. I will share a bit more about them in my next post. Ultimately, clearly articulating your dream and your purpose, requires that you dig deep and engage in a process of observation and self-discovery. I will tell you a secret though, sometimes it is right before our very eyes, only we have not taken time to see it or acknowledge it.
Dream Killer #3 The Naysayers and the Haters
Some seeds fell on the road, and the birds came and ate them up. Naysayers and negative people, sometimes even people who are well intentioned and care about us can threaten our dream. These persons can be likened to the birds that ate up the seeds. In this case the dream/seed never even had the opportunity to grow, for two reasons. Number one they fell in the wrong place; they fell on the roadway where there was no soil. Number two, they were eaten up by the birds.
Your dream is at the core of who you are, and not dependent on the opinions of others. Do not let others tell you that you can’t achieve your dream or that you are not good enough or worthy of your dream. If you have children, don’t ever tell them they can’t do something. Let them know, that no dream is too big. Don’t let your dreams fall in the wrong place – be careful who you tell your dream to, because it just may get gobbled up.
Some people may even hate on you because of your dream. Consider the story of Joseph in Genesis 37. God gave Joseph a dream. Joseph told his brothers about it and they hated him for it, because the dream indicated that Joseph would one day be successful and rule over them. When they saw Joseph coming they sarcastically said to each other, “here comes the dreamer.” They eventually sold Joseph into slavery because of his dream and because they hated him. But that did not stop Joseph from realizing his dream and fulfilling his purpose.
Tinogona – It is Achievable
Whatever your dream is, I want you to know that it is achievable. In the Shona language, which is a language spoken in Zimbabwe, Tinogona means, it is achievable. It has become one of my mantras; you can make it yours too.
I recently stumbled upon the story of Dr. Tererai Trent, who grew up in an impoverished village in Zimbabwe. By age 22 she had 3 children and was a battered wife, but she had a dream of receiving an education. A lady who came to her village and asked her about her dream replied to her, “Tinogona”, meaning it is achievable. The lady helped Tererai realize that her dream was achievable; she helped her realize that it was possible for someone like her to have an education. You can read more about Tererai’s story here.
For Tererai, the weeds in our story which represents her hardships and adversities did not kill her dream. She did not let the opinion of the other women – who were well aware of her situation – devour her dream, like the birds in our story, devoured the seed. She told her mother of her interaction with the lady and what her dream was, and her mother encouraged and supported her dream. She did not allow the rocky ground and the blazing sun from our story which are represented by distractions and lack of clarity, to kill her dream. She was sure about what she wanted, and worked hard at achieving it. It took her 20 years after that encounter, but she received her Ph.D. She now uses her education and her influence to serve her community.
I want to point out that in our story, the seed which fell on good ground, grew and produced many fruit. Some, 100 times more, some 60 times more, some 30 times more. Allow your dream/seed to produce many fruit. In order for that to happen you have to nourish it and take care of it; you have to provide the right environment for it to flourish. Decide on your dream and which is the best environment for nurturing that particular dream. I also suggest a reliance on God, who can help make all things possible, and with whose help we can produce far more than 100 times more fruit. We never have to do it in our strength alone.
I want to remind you that you are awesome, and you are great and you have a purpose and a dream. You have power beyond measure and abilities that are untapped. You have much to offer the world. It is not just about you, you are setting an example for someone, blazing a trail for others and you have a responsibility to use your dream to serve others. When we shine we unconsciously give others the permission to do the same. Your dream is achievable!