Put Your Dreams to the Test

What are your dreams?  Are they clearly defined?  Are they realistic?  If you are unable to answer these questions quickly and effortlessly, then consider picking up a copy of Put Your Dreams to the Test, by world-renowned leadership expert John Maxwell.

Maxwell defines a dream as “an inspiring picture of the future that energizes your mind, will, and emotions, empowering you to do everything you can to achieve it.  A dream worth pursuing is a picture and blueprint of a person’s purpose and potential. A dream is the seed of possibility planted in the soul of a human being, which calls him to pursue a unique path to the realization of his purpose.”

If that definition intimidates you, don’t fret.  Maxwell proceeds from that definition to craft ten questions to ask yourself to bring clarity to your dreams.

  1. The Ownership Question: Is my dream really my dream?
  2. The Clarity Question: Do I clearly see my dream?
  3. The Reality Question: Am I depending on factors within my control to achieve my dream?
  4. The Passion Question: Does my dream compel me to follow it?
  5. The Pathway Question: Do I have a strategy to reach my dream?
  6. The People Question: Have I included the people I need to realize my dream?
  7. The Cost Question: Am I willing to pay the price for my dream?
  8. The Tenacity Question: Am I moving closer to my dream?
  9. The Fulfillment Question: Does working toward my dream bring satisfaction?
  10. The Significance Question: Does my dream benefit others?

To dive a little deeper into these questions:

  1. The Ownership Question:  Are your dreams really your own?  Or are you still pursuing a path that another person, such as a parent or loved one, placed before you?  You will never be as passion about another person’s dreams as your own, so make sure that what you are pursuing is truly what you want.
  2. The Clarity Question:  A clear dream affirms your purpose, determines your priorities, and provides direction and motivation to your team.  You don’t have to have every little detail of the journey charted from the beginning, but you do need some type of map with a defined starting and ending point.
  3. The Reality Question:  Maxwell argues that a dream not bound in reality is not worth pursuing.  If your habits and talents do not match to your dreams, then you will be forever working but never getting closer to your dream.
  4. The Passion Question: Passion is the starting point of all achievement, but passion alone will not be enough for you to achieve your dreams.  For most people, you will have to work towards your dream for a long time before it comes to fruition, and without passion you will quit well beforehand.
  5. The Pathway Question:  Do something every day that relates to your dream, and remove the nonessentials from your plate.  Achievement requires sacrifice.  Have goals to move you forward.
  6. The People Question:  It takes a village, to quote the common phrase.  Furthermore, the size of your dream determines the size of the people who will be attracted to it.
  7. The Cost Question:  The dream is free but the journey isn’t is.  The price will be higher than you expect and will require payment more than once.  However, never sacrifice your values or integrity in the pursuit of your dream.
  8. The Tenacity Question:  Quitting is more about who you are than where you are.  Failure is a required part of the journey, so embrace it.
  9. The Fulfillment Question:  Are you experiencing fulfillment or frustration.  There is a gap between the start and the finish that you must go through, and if you are not content in that valley then you will not reach the other side.
  10. The Significance Question:  Ultimately your dream must be about something larger than yourself, but remember that if you have not built up a platform for yourself from which to serve, then you will not be able to help others and invest into them.

As may be evident from the Maxwell’s questions, setting dreams and then pursuing them is no easy task.  Spend some significant time on each of these questions as they relate to your own personal mission, journey, and dreams.  And if you are having trouble identifying your dreams, spending some time on the following questions:

  1. Have you been discouraged from dreaming by other people?
  2. Are you hindered by past disappointments and hurts?
  3. Have you settled for average?
  4. Do you lack confidence?
  5. Do you lack imagination?

If you answered yes to any of these, then make sure that you address those points before attempting to answer the dream questions.

In closing: an old-world quote that Maxwell shares in the book: “When you were born, you cried, and the world rejoiced.  May you live your life so that when you die, the world will cry, and you will rejoice.”

Disclaimer: The author of this article receive no compensation for the mention of any works contained within.

Jeremiah Clark, M.A., is the co-owner of Appalachian Digital, a website development agency.  He is also a Lead Systems Analyst with the Cleveland Clinic Healthcare System.  You can contact Jeremiah at JClark390@gmail.com or connect with him on LinkedIn at Jeremiah Clark.