Monday, April 13, 2009

Dreams and Success

My friend Rachel Kice has been writing about dreams recently. Dreams and success. And how you know when and/or whether you've achieved them.

I've always loved to ask people... would you feel more successful and proud of your work if you had $10 million in the bank from doing it? What is the real measure of success, of talent? Money? Recognition? The way it makes you feel to create and/or share it? The number of people you impact, or how deeply you affect each one?

This exercise doesn't work for my 'successful' clients, because they already have $10 million in the bank. So to them, I ask: 'what is it that you long for?' Their answers vary, but generally they either speak of a previous time or a faraway place… where life is more simple, more anonymous, better…

To sum up: Dreamers long for success. And successful people long to dream. Both long to find a happiness that often seems to elude them.

Were any of us to wake up with $10 million (or alone in remote cabin with no press or media), we'd spend a few months blissfully doing all the things we dream of doing when dreaming of success or freedom. But after the euphoria wears off, after the hundredth sunset, you build a fire, pour yourself a glass of wine and dream of... what??

Whatever it is, that is your happiness.

This imagining tends to be very hard for people, because often what we see ourselves doing in that moment isn't what we’ve spent our time, energy, money and education focusing on. What we told everyone we would do, what everyone expects us to do. What we built a career around, what brings us security and stability.

But that's life. People change. We learn, we grow, and therefore, we naturally start to dream different things. Until we stop ourselves from dreaming different things. Or from dreaming in different ways.

The angst I see in my superstars and almost superstars isn't caused by the elusiveness of dreams or success. It's caused by a lack of bravery. By stubbornness that holds onto a dream or success that no longer fulfils. By fear and insecurity that cling to the poor management of a dream at the expense of success and joy. By the decision to stop listening to the voices that whisper 'we came, we saw, we learned… where to now???'

Modern culture in many ways tells us that we have no right to more than one dream… that success means to make a choice, pay your dues, collect your proverbial pension, and remain. But don't forget that once upon a time, our lowly 'Jack-of-all-trades' was considered a 'Renaissance Man'… back when families gathered around a piano rather than a television…

Turn down the noise. Listen to what your heart now longs for and dreams of, and follow it at all costs with wisdom and reverence. Listen to what your soul believes it means to be successful. Then become it, every day, no matter what anyone else says or thinks.

Happiness will be there waiting.

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Anonymous Sally Morgan said...

Hi Jen,
You are such a special human being. Your words are so true and inspiring. I'm glad to count you among my friends!
Sally Morgan

April 13, 2009 at 8:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beautiful, provocative posting, Jennifer. You always offer something to think about.

Your book went to press last week, btw.


April 13, 2009 at 9:59 AM  
Anonymous Bryan Reeves said...

Girl. You're amazing. I love you. Bryan.

April 15, 2009 at 11:00 PM  

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