In only a few days, I’ll be boarding a plane to fly halfway around the world, where I’ll have the privilege of teaching in the Philippines, China, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, and Malaysia.
This kind of work is a dream come true for me. Of course, the scope is much larger than I originally imagined. But the dream of adding value to others is something I’ve been pursuing for close to 40 years.
The following excerpt from my book, Put Your Dream to the Test, is about the importance of imagination to the achievement of your dream. I hope it encourages and equips you as you examine your own dreams.
How do people discover their dreams? By dreaming! That may sound overly simplistic, but that’s where it starts. Imagination is the soil that brings a dream to life.
Nobel Prize-winning physicist Albert Einstein, a dreamer and thinker, understood the value of the imagination. He said, “When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge.” Einstein called his imagination a “holy curiosity.”
If you come from a discouraging background, or you don’t think of yourself as an especially imaginative person, don’t lose hope. You can still discover and develop a dream. God has put that ability in every one of us. If you know and watch children, then you know that’s true. Every child dreams. Every child possesses imagination. My wife, Margaret, and I have five grandchildren, and whenever we are with them, we see their vivid imaginations at work, whisking them away from this world to ones of their own creation.
You have it in you to dream. Author and friend Max Lucado is clear about your possibilities: “You weren’t an accident. You weren’t mass produced. You aren’t an assembly-line product. You were deliberately planned, specifically gifted, and lovingly positioned on the Earth by the Master Craftsman.” Beyond that, some people would even argue that the more drab your beginnings, the greater your potential for dreaming.
Businessman Howard Schultz, who came from a very humble background, used the fertile soil of his imagination to help him cultivate the idea of Starbucks, the company he founded. Schultz says,
One thing I’ve noticed about romantics: They try to create a new and better world from the drabness of everyday life. That is Starbuck’s aim, too. We try to create, in our stores, an oasis, a little neighborhood spot where you can take a break, listen to some jazz, or ponder universal or personal or even whimsical questions over a cup of coffee.
Who dreams up such a place?
From my personal experience, I’d say that the more uninspiring your origins, the more likely you are to use your imagination and invent worlds where everything seems possible.
That’s certainly true of me.
I believe God wants us to dream, and to dream big, because He’s a big God who wants to do big things and He wants to do them through us. My friend Dale Turner asserts, “Dreams are renewable. No matter what our age or condition, there are still untapped possibilities within us and new beauty waiting to be born.” It’s never too late to dream.
If you’re wondering whether the dreams of your imagination are likely to take root in the soil of reality, then start by asking yourself the following questions (from Put Your Dream to the Test.)
- The Ownership Question: Is my dream really my dream?
- The Clarity Question: Do I clearly see my dream?
- The Reality Question: Am I depending on factors within my control to achieve my dream?
- The Passion Question: Does my dream compel me to follow it?
- The Pathway Question: Do I have a strategy to reach my dream?
- The People Question: Have I included the people I need to realize my dream?
- The Cost Question: Am I willing to pay the price for my dream?
- The Tenacity Question: Am I moving closer to my dream?
- The Fulfillment Question: Does working toward my dream bring satisfaction?
- The Significance Question: Does my dream benefit others?
I believe that if you really explore each question, examine yourself honestly, and answer yes to all them, the odds of your achieving your dream are very good. The more yeses you can answer, the more on target you are to fulfill your dreaming. I truly believe that everyone has the potential to imagine a worthwhile dream, and most have the ability to achieve it. And it doesn’t matter how big or how seemingly outrageous your dream appears to others if your answers are yes to the Dream Test questions.