In our younger days most of us had big dreams…dreams of who we might become, dreams of things we wanted in our lives in the areas of love, family, health, career, life. As a young man I remember having many, many dreams in all areas of my life. The neat thing about that stage of my life was that I actually believed I would achieve my dreams! I had no boundaries set for myself. What an amazing and exciting way to live life! Believing your dreams will come true!
Unfortunately as I got older, I lost confidence in my ability to capture many of my dreams. I came to accept that some of my dreams just weren’t going to happen. Other dreams just disappeared with the business of life, while others were placed on the “I think I can achieve that dream still list (I hope)!"
As I reflect on my own life I have come to realize that one of the worst things that I have allowed to happen to me is to accept dream failure. Accepting that I am never going to achieve a particular dream has actually placed a cloud over my life. At times it has felt like I’ve put limits on who I am or who I might be and it’s stifling. The act of losing my dreams has dulled my life. Even more frustrating I find is when I realize that I have allowed another person to crush my dreams and discourage me away from accomplishments that I believe I could have achieved.
Luckily, several years ago I spent time with a friend and mentor who owns a horse ranch that he uses to put on fund-raising events to raise money for youth at risk. I was at his ranch as a co-host and invited guest speaker. Early in the evening I conducted an interview with my friend who is a wealthy, self-made man and I asked him to share with the audience the story of how his ranch had come to be. I hope you find my recollection of his story motivating.
It all goes back to a story about a young man who was the son of an itinerant horse trainer who would go from stable to stable, race track to race track, farm to farm and ranch to ranch, training horses. As a result, the boy’s high school career was continually interrupted. When he was a senior, he was asked to write a paper about what he wanted to be and do when he grew up.”
“That night he wrote a seven-page paper describing his goal of someday owning a horse ranch. He wrote about his dream in great detail and he even drew a diagram of a 200-acre ranch, showing the location of all the buildings, the stables and the track. Then he drew a detailed floor plan for a 4,000-square-foot house that would sit on a 200-acre dream ranch.”
“He put a great deal of his heart into the project and the next day he handed it in to his teacher. Two days later he received his paper back. On the front page was a large red F with a note that read, 'See me after class.’”
“The boy with the dream went to see the teacher after class and asked, `Why did I receive an F?’”
“The teacher said, `This is an unrealistic dream for a young boy like you. You have no money. You come from an itinerant family. You have no resources. Owning a horse ranch requires a lot of money. You have to buy the land. You have to pay for the original breeding stock and later you’ll have to pay large stud fees. There’s no way you could ever do it.’ Then the teacher added, `If you will rewrite this paper with a more realistic goal, I will reconsider your grade.’”
“The boy went home and thought about it long and hard. He asked his father what he should do. His father said, `Look, son, you have to make up your own mind on this. However, I think it is a very important decision for you.’ Finally, after sitting with it for a week, the boy turned in the same paper, making no changes at all.
He stated, ‘You can keep the F and I’ll keep my dream.’”
Monty then turned to the assembled group and said, “I tell you this story because you are sitting in my 4,000-square-foot house in the middle of my 200-acre horse ranch. I still have that school paper framed over the fireplace.”
He added, “The best part of the story is that two summers ago that same schoolteacher brought 30 kids to camp out on my ranch for a week. When the teacher was leaving, the teacher said, ‘Look, Monty, I can tell you this now. When I was your teacher, I was something of a dream stealer. During those years I stole a lot of kids’ dreams. Fortunately you had enough gumption not to give up on yours.’”
As I listened to my friend that evening I thought about my own life and how I had lost or allowed others to steal my dreams away from me. The next day as I left his ranch I purposefully decided to rekindle my dreams and pursue them vigorously. Because I can, because catching dreams makes life exciting! I’ve caught many of my dreams that I had given up on. I’ve become someone I want to be and I have more dreams now than I think I ever had. Life is exciting again and I am looking forward to the future more than ever.
And so as we break in another new year… I’d like to encourage you to think back to your childhood and early adult life and ask yourself what dreams did I have that I let go of or allowed someone to steal from me? Make a list and rekindle your fire for many of those desires. Maybe you have new dreams in your life but your to afraid to share them because you are sure people might laugh at you or think your crazy. I want to encourage you to open Pandora’s box!
Don’t allow yourself or others to squash the dreams of your life. If you dream enough – if you set goals – if you intelligently pursue – if you dedicate yourself – no dream is to big to be achieved. Live a dream filled exciting life!
Don’t let anyone steal your dreams in 2016. Follow your heart…no matter what. Happy New Year!