Are you a slave to your dream? I like this portion of Rudyard Kipling’s poem If:
… If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools; …
Business coaches teach us how important it is to have a dream. It certainly helps us through the work we need to do to create the results we want. Basing ourselves in the future can also have a dark side. We can become so enslaved to our visions and dreams that we can no longer appreciate the world we live in and our friends and family today.
When people tell us we are dreamers we smile and are content to think it is they who do not understand. But if our dreams are based on ego or worse still implanted to us by a culture that has moulded us to value one thing over another thing, our dreams can become unpleasant masters.
Are you a slave to your dream?
We like to imagine that we are too intelligent and too discerning to fall into that trap. Many of us pride ourselves on our ability to think and perceive clearly. It is easy to stand outside the crowd and believe it is our superior understanding that is separating us from others.
But sometimes we get so obsessed with being different or ‘right’ we forget that it is highly unlikely we are capable of understanding something entirely without the benefit of another mind giving us feedback and information.
We give it our best shot, but it is a lonely best shot.
If we are trying to work to change an organisation or a process (or society) then standing alone without taking information from others can lead us towards false conclusions and faulty analysis.
If you do think differently to the crowd (whether rightly or wrongly) it can come as a shock to realise that this is not always valued or wanted. Sometimes that difference can make us the next great inventor or social leader – other times an isolated person that no-one listens to.
We live, as never before, in an age of ideas, with information, debate and argument flying through the social media space at an incredible pace. We are quoted, misquoted, feted and ignored in equal and random measure and it is hard to keep a firm centre on who we are and what that means. At a time of great change many are faced with the complete destruction of their business, their homes, their ideas, or their community. We are all bracing ourselves for a future containing both risk and opportunity.
There are many people who’s life’s work is being torn down by railway lines, changes in governance or funding. There are others excited by opportunities and what is yet to come.
We all need a way to steady ourselves and start over when necessary. I use this poem to remind myself of where my centre is and to get ready to pick up those worn out tools and build it all over again.
What do you do to steady yourself and get ready to do the work again?