I’m a dreamer. Always have been, can’t imagine being anything else – in fact, dreamers can’t imagine why anyone would want to be anything else. But it’s a frustrating life. Our ideas are seen as impractical, our dreams delusional, and our methods irrational. In general people expect us to adapt to their world and to their way of doing things, but dreamers are idealists and the last thing we want to do is change simply because it’s the practical thing to do. We’re values oriented and believe the world should be a certain way, and we’re not all that willing to compromise for the sake of another cruddier but more realistic version.
Being called a dreamer isn’t a good thing from what I can tell, which is too bad, because without us the world would probably feel much darker. Sure, other people dream too but there’s a difference. T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) put it this way;
“All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake up in the day to find it was vanity, but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.”
Dreamers have a hard time succeeding in a practical person’s world. We like to make our life’s work our things and do it our way, anything else is sacrificing our souls upon the alter of money. Sure, we want money, but not at any price – really there are only a few prices we’re willing to pay, and most of them we thought of ourselves – so they’re sort of crazy. We’ll play the game though, and if we’re lucky we’ll move up the ladder or start a business so that we have as much control over it as possible. Then at least we can shape it to match our ideals and values to some degree.
We actually tend to think that it’s the others that are impractical;
“Dreamers are mocked as impractical. The truth is they are the most practical, as their innovations lead to progress and a better way of life for all of us.” – Robin S. Sharma (Lawyer, Author, and consultant to some of the world’s largest companies)
People don’t understand us, even fewer actually believe in us. Sure, someone might “get” you for a time but sooner or later that crazy dreamer side of you is revealed to its full degree and off the “friend” goes. Part of us likes that other people don’t “get” us, it makes us feel special, and the other part of us is just frustrated – just another person trying to use us, we think – good riddance. Of course we’re left wondering if we’re truly delusional with grandiosity- and completely out of place and mind. If you’ve taken some psych courses you might wonder if we’re manic – we probably are – at least a little. At the end of the day we’re usually pretty comfortable with ourselves and with writing off the mental capacity of those that don’t get us or believe in us as small and caged in the conventions of a darker world.
We ourselves get lost in our own world of ideas and concepts; new one’s popping up all the time. We pursue some of them, the best of us try and pursue only a few – taking the best of what we imagine and integrating it into one grand life passion or purpose.
These “crazy” ideas don’t work so well when you’re married to a realist – I am. In a good way she keeps me grounded, she wants predictability and security. Things I need too, even though they are lower on my priority list than she would like. See, I like the William Shedd quote, “A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.”, not such a great quote for a realist. There is some danger in being a dreamer, as more than one has destroyed themselves trying to make their dreams a reality, and there are times when we feel as though perhaps all is lost and our dreams our dead. But we realize that the doubts of everyone else are plenty enough, and the doubters need us to keep dreaming and keep trying whether they know it or not.
We’re spiritual people, and believe it or not I think we make great leaders when we manage to get to the top, which isn’t terribly often. Dreamers usually lack business sense. I realized that when I got my MBA. I probably learned more in my cohort than anyone because it was so different from my natural tendency. Once empowered though we’re fierce about personal development, part of the reason I went on for my doctorate. Education in areas unnatural to us can make us feel as though we’ve finally been given the keys to making our dreams a reality – the secret code. As leaders we’re values oriented with big world changing ideas meaning followers are likely to be very loyal and inspired in some way; “WE’RE GOING TO CHANGE THE WORLD!” is the mantra. Besides, we probably do a good job of chasing away the realists who are just in it for money anyway, so we’re left with just the people who really believe and are passionate about our cause.
At the end of the day I think we can find success, and few things drive us the way impossibility and the doubt of others does. We revel in the idea of not just changing the world, but one day standing before a crowd of our doubters and saying; “I told you so”.
Believe it or not sometimes the dreamer’s ideas do come true; Augustine, C.S. Lewis, Jared Diamond, Thomas Kuhn, and Shakespeare were all dreamers. Does it happen often? Not really, but when it does it seems to change the world. Tennessee Williams said; “Revolution only needs good dreamers who remember their dreams.”
So the question is, is living the life of a dreamer worth it for a slight chance to change the world? Every dreamer I know would say yes, in fact they’d say there is no other type of life worth living.
In conclusion a message to all of you; to the dreamers, keep fighting, and to the rest of you – well let’s save those words for that speech I talked about.
Lastly a quote, because dreamers love quotes:
“My own heroes are the dreamers, those men and women who tried to make the world a better place than when they found it, whether in small ways or great ones. Some succeeded, some failed, most had mixed results… but it is the effort that’s heroic, as I see it. Win or lose, I admire those who fight the good fight.” – George R.R. Martin (Author of the bestselling series Game of Thrones)