Mark Cole: Own Your Dream


This week on the John Maxwell Leadership Podcast, we’re talking about dreams. Specifically, your dreams. John is taking us through the first question from his digital course Put Your Dream to the Test, which is The Ownership Question:

Is your dream really your dream?

Most people don’t live out their own dreams. They find it safer to please their parents, their spouses or others in their lives. They constantly live under a yoke of duty and begin to define success by how much money they make or how many people approve of their decisions.
While this pattern of life is common, it keeps me awake at night to know that so many leaders are giving up on what they were created for in an attempt to find success inside someone else’s dream.

Les Brown was right in saying, “Find out what it is you want and go after it as if your life depends on it. Why? Because it does!”

Is your dream really your dream? Your life depends on it.

Here are a few hints that might help you answer that question:

When your dream is someone else’s:

  • It will be a weight on your shoulders.
  • It will put you to sleep.
  • It will be fulfilling to others.
  • You will need someone else to make you do it.

When your dream is your own:

  • It will put wings on your shoulders.
  • It will keep you up at night.
  • It will be fulfilling to you.
  • You will get out of bed excited about doing it.

Nobel Prize winner Joseph Brodsky said, “ One’s task consists first of all in mastering a life that is one’s own, not imposed or prescribed from without, no matter how noble its appearance may be. For each of us is issued but one life, and we know full well how it all ends. It would be regrettable to squander this one chance on someone else’s appearance, someone else’s experience.”

So how do you take ownership of your dream?

1. Bet on yourself!

As John Maxwell says, “You may succeed if nobody else believes in you, but you will never succeed if you don’t believe in yourself.” Simply put—if you want to succeed, you need to believe that you can.

2. Lead your life; don’t just accept it!

Most people sit back, wish, and wait for life to happen. I can assure you that no successful plan has ever included that strategy! Oprah Winfrey said it this way, “Understand that the right to choose your own path is a sacred privilege. Use it. Dwell in the possibility.” I love that—dwell in the possibility! It will propel you to lead your life.

3. Love what you do and do what you love!

My friend and former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, Carly Fiorina said this, “Don’t make a choice of any kind, whether in career or in life, just because it pleases others or because it ranks high on someone else’s scale of achievement. Make the choice to do something because it engages your heart as well as your mind. Make the choice because it engages all of you.” Successful people see and seize their dream because they love what they do and do what they love.

I was recently reminded of a commencement address delivered by former Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, Anna Quindlen in 2002 at Sarah Lawrence College. She encouraged the graduates to own their dreams by saying, “When I quit The New York Times to be a full-time mother, the voices of the world said I was nuts. When I quit the paper again to be a novelist, they said I was nuts again. But if success is not on your own terms, if it looks good to the world but does not feel good in your soul, it is not success at all.”

Did you catch that? I don’t want you to miss this…

If your success looks good to the world but doesn’t feel good in your soul, it is not success at all.

Own your dream! There is a great chance that it will seem outrageous to the onlookers, but don’t let what they think slow you down.

Let these words from poet John Greenleaf Whittier sink deep into your mind: “For all sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these, ‘It might have been.’” You will never find the perfect time to pursue your dream, so you might as well start now. If you wait another year you will find yourself a year older and not a step closer to your dream.

What’s holding you back from getting started today?