Encouraging Dreams

When I first sat down to write today, I didn’t really know what I was going to write about but my mind kept drifting off toward Homer Hickam Jr. and the power of dreams.  So I guess I’m meant to write about that.

Homer Hickam is the main subject of a movie entitled October Sky, which in turn was based on Homer’s memoir Rocket Boys. Basically, it’s about his life growing up in a small mining town in West Virginia and his dreams about, and devotion to, rocketry.

It was a time when the notion of space flight was a fanciful one, especially for those who made their living in a coal mine.   In spite of that, the impact of hearing and reading about Sputnik, the first artificial satellite launched into space, was enough to inform Homer, from somewhere deep within him, that he had found his purpose.

Homer Hickam is a lucky guy.  I say that because I rather think that many of us flounder around a bit when it comes to being really sure of our purpose.  And, I suspect that unlike Homer, our purpose does not present itself in such a blindingly obvious way.  Well, at least that’s the way it is for me.

But dreams are important.  They’re important because they have a way of leading us to our purpose and each dream realized, each purpose fulfilled, makes a difference to a life, to a community, and even to the world.  And, I can’t think about that without thinking about Terry Fox.

Terry Fox had a dream.  He dreamed about a cure for cancer. He believed in his dream so much that he ran over three thousand miles on an artificial leg to raise funds for cancer research.  Even though Terry didn’t finish his run, he fulfilled his purpose and his dream lives on, long after his death.  That’s what dreams can do…outlive us.  There’s something quite wondrous about that.

Some might think that dreaming has little to do with reality, but dreams become reality if we do the work. And, I think there are two conditions that make the conversion of dream to reality possible:

One is, we have to want it badly enough to do what it takes to make it real

The Road to fulfillment is always fraught with challenge. If a dream is worth it, it is also worth fighting for. Other people may get in the way.  Fear can put us in our own way but, if we want it badly enough, none of that matters in the end.

And secondly, we have to make sure that the dream is really ours and not something, someone else wants for us.

Sometimes, when we are trying to figure out our purpose or find a dream we can make our own, we can slip into someone else’s view of what it looks like.  Sometimes this can be a convenient way of getting on with our lives.  Someone else’s dream though, no matter how magnificent it might be, is often like a suit of clothes that doesn’t quite fit and isn’t as comfortable as we’d like, no matter how good it might look on us.

Leadership is about dreaming too.  After all, if leadership were about maintaining the status quo, we wouldn’t need it.  We’d only need management. So dreams are frequently the beginning of new adventures and are about the pursuit of something that calls to us from within and makes us want to change, or be, something else or something more.

Dreams help us define our purpose. At least that’s how it was for Homer Hickam Jr. and Terry Fox. What do you think?





Filed under Leading Change, Learning, motivating & Inspiring

16 responses to “Encouraging Dreams

  1. I think that dreams do in fact support our purpose. They allow for us to continuously define our passions, goals, and love for those around us…while helping others achieve their dreams and goals.

    A real dream will symbolize truth, which can allow for leaders to grow with the people who follow them… whether it’s intentional or not.

    • Gwyn Teatro

      Hi Geoff,

      I agree with that. And, your comment also makes me wonder, is there a difference between a dream and a fantasy with respect to how we use them to lead or to find purpose?

      • To me, a dream is something we create ourselves, a new vision per se. A fantasy is something that already exists and we wish to experience.

        I know there is a fine line between the two of them and I am probably wrong by definition, but this is how I separate the two.

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  3. Gwyn Teatro


    Thanks for coming back. I think I get what you mean. For instance, Disney is in the fantasy business, creating scenarios that are fantastic in nature but ready-made and meant to target a wide audience that might find it appealing but in no way real. In this context, fantasy comes from the outside and focuses in.
    A dream, on the other hand, comes from the inside and focuses out. We build it and grow it as we go along and if we are lucky, or good, we learn to engage other people in it too.
    Thank you for making me think more about this and for enriching the post. 🙂

  4. Terry Thomas

    When I saw the recent post about dreams, I thought this does not pertain to me in middle age. After reading your comment about dreams and leaders, I hoped I can light up my dreams again. Now I have to do the work of addressing conflicts that I wish my fairy god-mother would turn into fantasies. Though, now if I do the work, I’ll be able to view my dreams!
    thanks for helping me turn stress into success : )

    • Gwyn Teatro

      Hi Terry,

      Wow, thank you for sharing that! I’m so glad you found something here that was helpful to you.
      And, yes, I think that dreams are for everyone, no matter our age.
      It isn’t over ’til it’s over! So whatever it is for you, hang onto it 🙂

  5. Gwyn – Your point about making sure the dream is yours is so very important. But how do we know? It fits. Like this. Have you ever had a frustrating day clothes shopping when nothing looks or feels right? Then you put your own clothes on and it’s and Ahhhh moment. The dream that fits, feels like that….Ahhhh.

  6. Gwyn,
    I’ve just added your blog to my Google reader and Tweeted you out to the universe. Profound and insightful. This post triggered something for me today. It awakened a sleeping giant. I write about how passion fuels innovation in our work life merge, but sometimes I forget to use that juice for the things that are on the fringe of my creative impulse waiting to be born. Thanks!

    • Gwyn Teatro

      Judy, one of the reasons I continue to write this blog is that every now and then, someone gets something from a post that triggers something else, a thought, an idea, or a possibility that works for them. On those occasions, I am reminded how good it feels to contribute.
      Thank you for that and for tweeting me out to the universe too! 🙂

  7. Nice piece! Little known fact about Homer Hickam, who I know, and is a wonderful man, he wrote a book called We Are Not Afraid right after 9/11. I’m a big fan, loved the movie version of his book and admire him immensely!

    • Gwyn Teatro

      Thanks Kim! I was really impressed by the movie too and by the fact that Homer did not allow his circumstances to come between him and the fulfillment of his dream. That does indeed take a special person.

  8. I like your comment that if leaders only address the status quo, we don’t need it. I think that is one difference between leaders and manager.

    A leader is taking everyone forward. Some managers do and many do not.

    Great post that connects a sometimes “in the clouds” topic of dreams with the down to earth reality of success. Nice post Gwyn!

    Here is a post that expands this to other thoughts that can make your dreams come true:

    • Gwyn Teatro

      Kate, your post and mine go together really well. When it comes to dreams and thinking about things, there is always more than one choice. We can allow our dreams to remain “in the clouds” (that’s easy) or we can follow your advice and thrive by doing something with them (that’s harder but much more rewarding).
      Thanks for pointing me to your post and for your comments here. The work you do with young people is critical to not only their future but everyone’s. Brava.

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