Maybe you’re someone who has a dream, but you’re not sure how to get started on your journey to achieving it. Maybe you even think it’s too much of a long shot. Well, in this episode, John Maxwell shares four obstacles that often get in the way of people achieving their dreams and what we can do to avoid those pitfalls.
During the application portion of this episode, Mark Cole is joined by Traci Morrow as they discuss John’s lesson and what they’ve done in their own lives and leadership to continually pursue the dreams they have and the lives they envision for themselves.
Our BONUS resource for this episode is the “What Stands Between You and Your Dreams Worksheet,” which includes fill-in-the-blank notes from John’s teaching. You can download the worksheet by clicking “Download the Bonus Resource” below.
Mark Cole: Hey everyone, Mark Cole here and welcome to the Maxwell Leadership Podcast. This is the podcast that adds value to leaders who multiply value to others. This week we’re talking about what stands between you and your dreams. Maybe you’re someone, you have a dream, but you’re not sure how to get started on your journey to achieving it, to sensing that accomplishment. Maybe you even think it’s too long of a shot.
Well, in just a moment, John Maxwell is going to share four obstacles that often get in the way of people, this thing that stops them from achieving their dreams and what we can do to avoid these pitfalls. After John’s lesson, I will be joined by my co-host Traci Morrow as we discuss John’s lesson and what we have done in our own lives and in our own leadership to continually pursue the dreams we have and the lives we envision for ourselves.
Now, as always, we have a free fill in the blank PDF that accompanies John’s lesson. We call this our bonus resource and you can download it by visiting maxwellpodcast.com/yourdream. Just click the bonus resource button and you’ll be directed to the PDF. Lastly, we would love for you to check out our YouTube page. There, you can enjoy the video version of this podcast and chat with some of our most engaged listeners and viewers in the content. You just need to go to Maxwellpodcast.com/youtube, and you’ll find the video there. That’s it. Now here is John.
John Maxwell: I saw this recently on a cartoon of a young man on a bicycle who was wearing a t-shirt that read “I’m going to be a doctor”. And a sign on the back of his bicycle read “and I’m going to be a Mercedes”. There’s a guy with a dream. Robert Orben said always remember that there are only two kinds of people in this world, the realist and the dreamers.
The realists know where they’re going and the dreamers have already been there. And then Candice Bergen said dreams are by definition cursed with short lifespans. So let’s talk about those short lifespans for just a second. Why is it that some dreams don’t last long? What stands between you and your dreams as far as those dreams being accomplished? Let me just share with you in the beginning of this lesson some things that I think will really help us as far as understanding sometimes why we don’t pull off the dream that we have.
Because I get a little nervous around people when they start talking about getting a dream, getting a vision, not because I get nervous over the dream or the vision, I get nervous because so many times they don’t understand why their dreams never are fulfilled. Let me give you four or five things. Number one, the wrong kind of a dream.
A lot of times dreams are never realized because it’s a day dream, huh? Instead of a daring dream. And I’ve categorized on the left and right side in your notes difference between a day dream and a daring dream. And I always put it in there so we could kind of move through this quickly, but a day dream relies on luck. It’s kind of a lottery mindset, boy, maybe someday I’ll get that number and wow, it’ll come up where a daring dream relies on discipline.
A day dream focuses on the destination, this is so good, and a daring dream focuses on the journey. A daydream cultivates unhealthy expectation and a daring dreams, they cultivate healthy discontent. One minimizes the value of hard work and the other one maximizes obviously the value of hard work. The daydream leads to excuses and the daring dream leads to action.
Daydreams create inertia where daring dreams create momentum. One breeds isolation, one breeds teamwork. One says let’s wait, the other one says let’s initiate. One avoids all risk. The daring dream embraces risk as necessary. The daydream makes others responsible. Boy, haven’t you seen that before? I’ve seen that where a person says, “I had this dream, but boy, nobody came forward. I mean, I’m telling you, nobody helped me out. Nobody came alongside of.”
You see daydreams make others responsible where daring dreams make you responsible. A lot of difference. Who’s responsible than your dream? I promise you if other people are responsible to make your dream come true, it’ll never come true. You have to take that responsibility. So maybe the reason your dream has never been realized, maybe the reason your dream has never come to fulfillment is because you have the wrong kind of a dream, you’re a day dreamer instead of a person that has a daring dream.
Number two is fear. Many times our fears keep us from realizing our dreams. Safe living generally makes for regrets later on. We are all given talents and dreams and sometimes the two don’t match. But more often than not, we compromise both before ever finding out. Great statement. Later on, as successful as we might be, we find ourselves looking back longingly to that time when we should have chased our true dreams and our true talents for all that they were worth.
And then this is from an unknown source here. Don’t let yourself be pressured to thinking that your dreams or your talents aren’t prudent. They were never meant to be prudent. They were meant to bring joy and fulfillment in your life. So maybe your dream has never been realized and what is really between you and your dream is fear, or maybe it is the wrong kind of dream.
Or thirdly, I’ve seen this happen often with people who never realize their dreams that is critical people. Critical people sometimes discourage us especially in the beginning of our dreams. Let me say this. I think this is a timing issue. I think in the beginning of our dream when we begin to really get excited about what we could become, get a vision for that, if we come across people especially that are close to us, people that we respect, people that we love and they’re critical, I’ve seen a lot of dreams never get off the launching pad because in the beginning of the dream, that’s when it’s the most fragile.
You’ve never tasted the success of it yet and somebody that comes in with a high degree of cynicism and criticism has a tendency to really tear us down real quickly as far as pursuing that dream and almost takes the energy out of us before we ever fill the tank up with gas. So here’s a great quote. People don’t like to see others pursuing their dreams. It reminds them how far from living their dreams that they are.
In talking you out of your dreams, they are talking themselves back into their own comfort zone. They will give you every rational lie that they ever gave themselves. There’s some good stuff there. Number four, many times we do not fulfill the dreams that we want to. It’s because your own work habits, attitudes, and disciplines. In other words, many times I don’t realize my dream because of my own work habits, my attitude about what I’m trying to pursue or the disciplines, I lack them, keeps me from realizing my dreams.
In the Wall Street Journal recently were these words. In middle age, some still fantasize about what we’ll do when we grow up. Most people between 35 and 54 continue to daydream about their careers. Something seems to happen at age 45. We shift from daydreaming about our current jobs to fantasizing about what we will do in the future. And the reason that we aren’t living our dreams is inside ourselves. We pretend it’s people, things and situations outside of ourselves that are to blame. We’ve already talked about blaming others for not fulfilling that dream.
And then I had a quote of my own in here. The real difference between a dream and wishful thinking is what you do day to day. I really believe that too many people who never fulfill or reach their dreams do not fulfill and reach their dreams because they don’t understand that a dream is a day to day process. We think of dreams as tomorrow. We think of dreams as another day and another place when dreams are really fulfilled today, right where we are.
And because we fail to think of today right where we are, we never began to take the progress we needed to dream because we’re always saying this is going to happen. It’s future tense instead of present tense. And we project out there instead of understanding and coming to grips with where we are.
Mark Cole: Welcome back everyone. And wow, I love this last statement, Traci, that John says, the real difference between a dream and wishful thinking is what you do day today. It reminds me of another quote of John. He says dreams don’t work unless you do. So many people have a dream. I was with my friend this weekend, Traci, a friend of ours, a friend of EQUIP’s, Paul Sika. And Paul’s writing a book, I can’t wait to read it, it’s called Dream Doers. And I love that. As soon as he [inaudible 00:10:09].
Traci Morrow: I love that.
Mark Cole: Yes, so many people are dreamers, are dream givers, are dream talkers, but I want to talk to some dream doers. And so that’s what John’s encouraging us to do today. Traci, you’re one of those and I can’t wait to break in to this lesson and help our listeners, our viewers learn how to chase their dreams.
Traci Morrow: It all comes down to action, doesn’t it? No matter what our topic is, no matter what we’re talking about and who’s sitting in the chair opposite of you, it always comes down to action because we have any concept, but it comes down to action. And this is no different. This topic is no different. So before we get into the four things that John talks about that can stand between us and our dreams, Mark, he first talks about the differences between a realist and a dreamer. And so I don’t know for me, I feel like I’m a little bit of kind of both of them. Would you classify yourself as one or the other?
Mark Cole: Well, I think with John and working as kind of his number two, the right hand of John, I think I’ve had to be the realist for about 15 years or so of John, the dreamer, John, the opportunist and John going out and dreaming, bringing back the opportunity and me realistically working through it. John’s often complimented me on being one of the best leaders in the Law of Navigation in his 21 laws.
And I think that law of navigation has had me look at opportunities and dreams through a realistic lens to make sure that we get it. Now, I’ll tell you this. Just ask my team right now. I’ve kicked it into a different gear and man, I am dreaming away Traci. I’m dreaming about 100,000 members in our CLEAR program that you and I get to do together.
Traci Morrow: That’s right.
Mark Cole: I’m dreaming about all of these people that are going to become world changers. I’m figuring out and dreaming of ways that we can continue and be bigger, better and brighter than John Maxwell has ever done and up to this point. So I’ve got a lot of dreams going on now that sometimes I look at my team and if you’re watching on YouTube, this right here will be a visual that you’ll… They give you that what have you been smoking kind of look.
And again, for you listeners, I’m sorry, you just missed that incredible snapshot of me. But it’s that look that says, okay, dude, whatever you’ve been smoking, not only you need to stop, but I don’t think I want any of that. So I’ve got a little bit of dreaming going on right now, Traci.
Traci Morrow: But I love that because a dreamer, like he says, from the quote that a dreamer has already been there and the realist knows where they’re going. And so having both that tug, that pull and that tug, I think is an important part as a leader because you need to have already been there and seen, like John says, you need to see more and you need to see before, but then you also need to connect the steps of where we are today to what we’ve already seen can happen and see that dream.
But I feel like that leads perfectly into the first part or the first point that John lists, which I think every one of you who are listening, please go to our show notes and print this out and grab a highlighter pen like I did. And as John goes through the list, he talks about a daydream versus a daring dream. And as he goes through, it’s okay if you highlight both sides if you can relate and both sides of your dream connect on both sides.
But kind of highlight which side you land on, whether your dream is a daydream or a daring dream to really visually see where you land. Because if your dream lands more to the daydream or to the daring dream, that’s a great place to start and also to refer back to. Because as you hit these next three points, you can see, is it fear, is it critical people then go back to the list? Is that connecting to the daydream because the fear is connecting to the daydream?
But Mark, in those two lists, what do you relate more to now at this stage in your leadership? Do you still even go to the daydream or are you mostly in the daring dream segment of your leadership?
Mark Cole: I do. And something you said that I want to highlight as I answered this, you said that [inaudible 00:14:34]-
Traci Morrow: I got my highlighter pen.
Mark Cole: Yeah, you got it, you got it. Something you said is there’s a great advantage to being both, being realistic about the dreams and knowing where you’re going which is intentionality, and then the dreamers that don’t know how to get there, but they’ve already been there and thought about it, visualized it, experienced it. They fill it with all six senses and there’s only five.
I mean, they’ve been there. And I think you’re right. I think that there is a degree of realism that we need to live in. I think there’s a degree of daring dreams, day dreams and daring dreams that we need to live in. I think the biggest differentiator between that is a propensity to action. It’s the ability Traci, that whether you are being a realist, you need to still be charting out the course because steep are founded in a great degree of realism is how dreams get accomplished and not how dreams get to be enjoyed. There’s work with big dreams.
And then with dreaming daring dreams, I think there’s a level of intentionality that you have to do there. You’re not just dreaming for the sake of dreaming. It’s so funny I must be doing an ad campaign, Jake for all of our podcast listeners to come be podcast viewers. But I’ve had people teach me how to meditate. And I’m going to overplay this for those of you visual, because this is what I always [inaudible 00:15:59] vision.
Traci Morrow: [inaudible 00:15:59].
Mark Cole: And this is what they taught me. And for all of you podcast listeners, I’m sitting here with my eyes closed and my thumb and index finger circled and holding my other three fingers straight out with my eyes closed and my head lifted upward because that’s it. I don’t dream like that. That’s really kind of a daydream.
Wow, wouldn’t it be nice to not feel the pressure I’m feeling right now? Wouldn’t it be nice to be on the beach somewhere right now? Oh, it’s summer, wouldn’t it be nice to be on a three month vacation right now? All of these would be nice things. They don’t require pen and paper, but let me tell you what I’m doing. This is the visual for you when I dare to dream when I’m dreaming this daring dream.
I’m sitting here thinking, but I got a notepad right here. I’ve got my pen ready? Because I want to capture every thought because I realize a daring dream not captured and realistically, intentionally pursued will stay in my head and never get to my feet. And I want dreams, daring dreams that will start here in my head and will work all the way through my body, through my heart and capture the actions, the steps that I take.
And so Traci, to answer your question yeah, we’re in the middle of daring dream right now, and I’m proud of our team. I always want to bring application and for some time, even on the podcast, I’ve been casting the vision that our future is bigger. In other words, not bigger for the sake of, wow look at us. It’s bigger in the sake of growth. We’re growing, we’re expanding, we’re influencing more people in our future. We’re going after clear guides, we are clear, we’re wanting 100,000 people in that community that are world changers, that are changing themselves so that they can be a change for others.
And I’ve got these daring dreams and our future is bigger. Our future is also brighter. I mean, in other words, if we are a light to the world, I think so many times right now in politics, and even in religion and business, that the world seems to be darkening, the light begins to be fading and helping and inspiring hope in others. Well, I believe the Maxwell message is one of hope and inspiration. So I want our message to be brighter. I want the world to see a alternative better way to positive, powerful change, lighter, brighter.
And then better, I want to be better because we chase excellence. We want when people interact with this podcast or other things, I want it to be better. You guys have all heard me say that. Well, the middle of the grind of that is guess what? Anything worth chasing is going to cost you more and is going to take longer than you anticipated. If you ended your destination sooner and with less expenses than you thought, you didn’t dream big enough.
Let me just put that out there in podcast land. If you’re dreaming something that costs less and that takes less time, that was a bigger, better thing that you should have been spending your time on. There was a more daring dream because daring dreams cost more than you anticipated and it takes longer than you anticipated. Well, and that is where we are. There’s some things that I really wish was already clicking for us. And it was in that environment that I brought my leadership team, our leadership team into just a few days ago.
And Traci, I challenged them and I said, “Guys, our dream is at stake.” And I wasn’t trying to be melodramatic, I certainly wasn’t trying to be fatalistic. I just wanted them to know I feel the weight of the prolonged cost and the prolonged time of what we’re trying to do. And I said, “The dream has to continue challenging us even in the grind.” I had a follow-up meeting 10 days later and that was just three days ago.
And Traci, this brilliant group of human beings that I get to surf alongside, they caught that daring dream talk that I gave them and they came back with ideas of chasing opportunity, ideas of succeeding along the way as we continue chasing our dreams. And that’s what teams do. They don’t consider failure as an option, they realize obstacles are for options. Obstacles means that we need to come up with more options, and that’s what we’re doing. We’re not setting barriers to our daring dreams. We have obstacles, but we’re just finding options around the obstacles. And I’m proud of this team I get to serve alongside.
Traci Morrow: And I’m thinking about maybe somebody who’s listening and maybe they are frustrated because as they’re thinking about their dream and they’ve identified that it is a daring dream and not a daydream. So I feel like that point number one, you need to clarify is this a daydream and daring dream? And for the sake of moving forward, let’s say you have clarified that this is a daring dream.
And now we’re looking at this other three things that might be keeping you from your dreams and that would be maybe fear, critical people or your own work habits, attitudes, and disciplines. So it might be a collection of all three of those, or one of the three of those. And critical people could be either yourself inside, or it could be the people outside, maybe your team like you were just talking.
And so what if somebody’s listening and they’ve defined that it’s a daring dream and they’re hearing you talk about that your team is on board and they’re seeing obstacles as options, like options for more creative ways of thinking of solutions. And so if they’re frustrated maybe because their team isn’t coming up with, they’re viewing it maybe as a daydream instead of a daring dream, how would you speak to that leader whose team isn’t on board coming up with creative solutions and being viewed as critical teammates?
Mark Cole: Well, I want to talk about two things that you mentioned there. I think there’s a difference in teams that see your dream as a daydream, as I hope, as a well, maybe, maybe it will and people that have really bought into the daring dream. If you have people around you that are questioning whether your dream is really something that should be driving the organization, you got the wrong people around you.
Because I don’t want people around me that don’t agree with the opportunity and the challenges and the intentionality of the vision ahead of us. So I want to really be there. If you have people that’s trying to hold you back from your dream, you got the wrong people around you. Now that’s different than somebody that will be critical of the dream, that will be a contrarian, that will make you think about things different, that will ask you the tough question that don’t have an answer, that will not say yes to everything, but will say, “Hey, what about this?”
I don’t mind people around me that are critical in their thinking and making me answer the tough questions. I do mind people around me that have not bought into the vision that I’ve casted, the dreams that I have. And I don’t want to confuse those two because those are very different in my mind. The critical thinker are the people that bring things to the table I did not think about and challenges me to try to answer them along the way, but they’re not questioning the vision, they’re not questioning the direction and they’re not questioning the dream, they’re questioning all the potential obstacles and challenges along the way.
That’s a big deal, Traci, because I want those critical people around me. I want to talk more about this. In fact, recently, Traci, I’ve been really impacted by a book by Andy Stanley. He wrote a book called Not in It to Win It and he makes a brilliant statement, I’ll leave it along here, we’ll address it in a different podcast. But he makes the statement. He says, hey, disagreement is not a problem. We need disagreement. If we don’t have disagreement, we don’t have diversity, period, end of story.
You want disagreement in your business plan, in your life, with your dreams like we’re talking about today. What we can’t have is division, disagreement good, division terrible. Division will separate. Well, division is when somebody wants to call my dream a day dream and not a daring dream. Disagreement is how we get there, we should go this way, Mark and not that way. Somebody’s saying we should go this way and making me prove and demonstrate that this is the best way or agreeing that they are right and going this way is all how great teams work to chase great dreams.
Traci Morrow: That’s good. So what I’m hearing then maybe is critical people who are not buying in and maybe that’s just a level of more questions that they ask. It’s more of helping you cast the vision, solidifying the vision and helping you with buy in versus people who are going to buy in at all and they’re just going to be tearing down. And so that’s important to be able to differentiate those two things in your team as a leader because sometimes we could maybe tag a critical person who’s helping us solidify the vision and buy in as somebody who’s just tearing it down. And so wouldn’t you say that’s an important thing as a leader?
Mark Cole: I would, Traci. There’s a big difference in my mind with somebody saying, “Hey, we can’t accomplish this dream because of all of this.” Rather than somebody saying, “Hey, as we chase this dream, these are all the obstacles we’re going to have to overcome.” There is a huge difference in that statement and that attitude. And I want people that’ll say, “Hey, it’s going to be tough. Here’s all the things that we’ve got to accomplish.” I do not want people saying we can’t accomplish it because of all these obstacles that’s going to be in the way.
Traci Morrow: Yeah. I think that’s an important thing to really highlight there. I love that you did that. And then I think it’s great to end on because John ended on it and so I think that the real exclamation point here is, and perhaps what’s hard for most of us is our own work habits, attitudes, and disciplines. That really is what probably holds back most people who have the potential for success and John is saying that every person has that in them to be successful in this. And so would you say… How would you speak to that leader who’s struggling maybe with chasing after their dream, believing in themselves and developing that work ethic?
Mark Cole: I love this question, it’s so apropos to me right now. It’s so relevant because I’m having to dream differently today than I had to dream two years ago, three years ago. I’m in a new role as the dreamer. Now I think I want a team of people around me that are dreamers all on their own right. But John did a great job teaching that, go back and listen to it, it’s incredible. Let me take perhaps a little bit of a different angle on this question, Traci.
Traci Morrow: Great.
Mark Cole: Because I think we need to understand our role in the dream. And this goes back to a conversation I had with Ed Bastian, CEO of Delta back right after he became president. He went from president of Delta to CEO a few years ago playing golf. And he said, “Man, the role of CEO has changed… My role as CEO has changed dramatically for my role as president. I don’t think about today’s operations. I think about tomorrow’s opportunities.”
And I thought, “Oh, that’s very nice, that’s a very cute thing to say.” And I wrote it down and I thought about it. Well, I’m in that now to where the dream, my responsibility of the dream is for how we get there in the future. And when I get pulled into how we are functioning today, I find myself very frustrated, very exasperated, Traci, and that’s not right. I’m in the middle of both I’m president and CEO currently. I have the luxury, or sentence maybe of being both right now.
But there is a distinct difference, and when we get into these work habits, attitudes, and disciplines, when I’m dreaming about the future weighted down with the operations of today, my dreams for the future get tainted by trying to execute on today. And when I’m trying to execute on today and I feel the pending responsibility of dreaming for the future, it affects how I get excited about dealing with issues today.
And I’m in a real learning process, a transition. I’m in a leadership transition because currently today I get to talk with you about dreams. Well, this afternoon, I got to go talk with our operational leader and our finance leader about finances. I love doing both, but I find myself in this duplicity that I’m in right now. I find myself right now wondering if I’m given my best to dreaming because I got to really handle this execution, this operational issue this afternoon and I’ll find myself going in the operational room with a little bit of sense of dread when I’ve been into a hundred of these and love it because it’s keeping me from dreaming.
And so for all of you out there that are new to a new role or leadership, or all of you out there that perhaps like me are in a transitional, I think you’ve got to really be honest with yourself, you’ve got to be critical, but not overly critical of yourself and you’ve got to deal with the fact that as a dreamer, there are multiple ways to come at those big dreams. And if you’re in a transitional moment like I, don’t lose the moments that only you can dream and the moments that only you can envision that future. And that is a big piece for all of us.
There are new disciplines that I have today as the CEO, as the visionary than I had yesterday last year as the president, the execution responsibility, operational responsibility, and the one responsible for navigation. Know your role, but don’t stop your dream.
Traci Morrow: Wow. So much good right there. And as we close out, my advice to you is rewind the last three minutes because everything he just said right there, there’s so much meat and potatoes in that little section right there for you to really grab, hold of, take notes of from Ed Bastian’s comment on and how that applied into Mark’s transitional roles for so many of us who transition because we’re always transitioning, right?
But I think as I pass it back to Mark to close us out, I think it really does come back to that closing statement from John, and that is the real difference between a dream and wishful thinking is what you do day to day. And the best thing we can do as leaders is analyze what are our daily habits.
Mark Cole: Yeah. And it goes back to that Zig Ziglar comment that perhaps all of us have used. If you’re in John’s world, he said, success is a journey, not a destination.
Traci Morrow: That’s right.
Mark Cole: And what Traci, you were just saying right there is, this is a journey. I wasn’t so good at the journey about a week and a half ago, I’m a lot better today. I’m thankful for that. I’m learning.
Traci Morrow: That’s right.
Mark Cole: I feel the emotion of it, sometimes I feel the weight of it. And remembering that we’re on a journey, we’re not trying to accomplish a destination is really important. Hey, let me give you a next step. I love this Jake that you’re doing now and making sure that we have something to do between Wednesday and Wednesday. Okay, great podcast, Traci and Mark. I love it. Good, you fired me up. I’m going to go do some daring dreams. What do I do next?
Well, I want to tell you what to do next. You need to go get Put Your Dream to the Test by John Maxwell. It’s a book he wrote several years ago. It’s a brilliant book that asked you 10 questions to test your dream. And I love this book. I get to teach on this book often and I want to extend that book to you. You can get it today for 15% off. Go in our show notes, we’ll have a link there.
When you click on that link, put the code in, the promotional code of podcast and we’ll give you a 15% discount. Maybe you need to buy that book for your significant other too. Maybe you need to discuss it with people significant in your life and make sure that you are daring to dream daring dreams.
Traci Morrow: That’s right.
Mark Cole: That’s the big challenge today, dare to dream daring dreams. Hey, one of the people that just put fuel in my tank this week was a podcast listener Bo. Bo listened to episode 200. We’re going to put that in the show notes as well in case you like this. But Bo said the phrase adding value has always kind of stuck with me because it comes across as static. But it truly depends on who is handling that phrase.
I recently heard Marshall Goldsmith speak about how leaders can add too much value. Here’s what he meant. Does a leader’s comment increase a person’s commitment? If it doesn’t, then the leader may have added value to the discussion but added nothing to create change. Bo said, “I like that and it seems to fit with this episode 200 as well.” Bo, love it.
My friend, you not only gave us a great compliment, great input, but you gave me something to think about right there as it relates to leading my team. So thank you very much. I appreciate it. Hey, what a great lesson. And let me tell you what I want you to do with this lesson. I want you to take this lesson, I want you to go create powerful, positive change because everyone deserves to be led well.