Chapter 7: Private Edition

Chapter 7: Creating a Compelling Future

When you were five years old, what did you want to be when you grew up? What did you want to do? What did you want to have?

What were the answers to those three questions when you were ten years old? Fifteen years old? Twenty years old?

What are the answers to those questions right now? Are you who you originally dreamed of being? Are you doing what you originally dreamed of doing? Do you have everything you originally dreamed of having? Or did you settle? Did you once dream of being a rock star? A ballerina? An astronaut? An actress? Where did “reality” kick in and redirect you? At what age did you dream of doing what you’re currently doing? Did you ever? Have you settled?

Certainly, our interests will change with age. So it’s not necessarily sticking with the same dream throughout life to which I’m referring, but it is the size of the dream. As you moved your way through life, your childhood passion of exploring outer space might have morphed into a passion of discovering a cure for cancer, eradicating world hunger, or inventing the next “thing” that makes the world an easier place to live. The question is, “Are you pursuing your passion, your dream?”

Dreams and passions can, and often do, change. What you will want to monitor for change, however, is the size of your dreams and passions. Throughout the years have they increased or decreased in size?

If you dream it, and you believe it, it’s not a dream. It’s reality waiting to happen. The world is replete with evidence that this is so. Bruce Springsteen once dreamed of being a rock star. Tiger Woods once dreamed of being the world’s greatest golfer. Robert DeNiro once dreamed of being an actor. Neil Armstrong once dreamed of going to the Moon. Benjamin Franklin once dreamed of harnessing electricity. Mahatma Gandhi once dreamed of a free India. Martin Luther King, Jr. once dreamed of raising the consciousness of civil rights and ending racial segregation.

They all had a dream, they all believed in their dream, they all pursued their dream and they all achieved their dream. What would our world look like if they hadn’t?

I attended a seminar in which Dr. Jay Grossman, a dentist, stood up to share an experience he had while running his non-profit organization, Homeless Not Toothless ( His organization has been able to establish a program for homeless people in Los Angeles to get free dental care. I believe his program has expanded nationally since. At this seminar Jay shared an encounter he had with one homeless patient during his free examination. The patient was blessed with the good fortune to have met in his lifetime both Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. The homeless man went on to share his experience with the dentist, and the two parts of the story that stood out for me the most was first, that he had the nerve to ask both Gandhi and King, “If you were to live your life over, what would you have done differently?” The second part that stood out was that both Gandhi and King had had the exact same answer to that question, “I wish I would’ve dreamed bigger.”

When I heard the story, the hairs on my arms stood on end. In fact, I still get the chills when I tell the story today. It’s a great story and I have no way of verifying its authenticity, but knowing what Gandhi and King dreamed, believed and achieved in their lives, it’s not difficult to accept the story as unequivocal truth.

What I want you to get out of this is that no dream is too big. There is magic in dreaming and thinking big. One of my favorite books is The Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz, Ph.D. When this book was first recommended to me, my initial thought was, “Not another book on positive thinking!” However, I trusted the referral source, and I was pleasantly surprised. The book is replete with “meat.” Get it.

The great artist Michelangelo once said, “The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.”

Many are waiting for Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King to come back – but they are gone. We are it. It is up to us. It is up to you. Dream BIG, and believe.

Don’t be afraid to take risks. Risks can be a telling gauge of people. People who avoid them do so to protect what they have. People who take them frequently end up with having more. What I’ve come to know is that if you risk nothing, you risk everything.

For a dream to come true, you must first have one. Allow yourself to dream really big. Big dreams lend themselves to big thoughts. Big thoughts create big emotions and foster passion. Not only does a dream give you something to aim for, but when a burning desire to achieve that dream is in place, the dream calls you into action. When you discover your passion, your mission, your purpose, you will feel its demand. Big emotions and passion will lead to big conversations and actions. Your dream will fill you with enthusiasm and excitement to get to work. It will burn.

When the vision is crystal clear and the burn is in place, the daily decisions to take action become easy. Those actions will eventually become habits that support the pursuit of your dream. Your habits will shape your character to that of a person capable of achieving your dream, creating a compelling future for you to live into, and the future we create for ourselves gives us who we are today. But, before anything else, you must have a dream. It all begins with the dream.

What inevitably holds most people back isn’t the quality of, or size of, their dream, but the lack of faith they have in themselves. Your biggest obstacle on the road to realizing your dreams is the belief that the dream is beyond reach, or more specifically, beyond your reach. This belief stems from the many suppressive forces we encounter that cause us to settle for mediocrity.

Whatever dream you’re pursuing, people will always – and I mean always – tell you, “You can’t do this,” or “You’ll never be able to do that.”  These naysayers are inescapable. But you can do it. There will always be critics trying to steal your dreams. Don’t let them in. The world belongs to people who say, “I can.” It will seem impossible until it’s done. The importance of dreaming big cannot be underestimated. The size of your dream is the first line of defense against negative people, environment, and most of all, negative thoughts. It’s paramount that you revisit your dream constantly. Maintain a clear vision of that dream. It is not uncommon for me to review my dreams (I have them displayed in a “dream book”) two to three times a day. Surround yourself with literature, sounds, images and people that remind you, and support your pursuit, of your dream.

Don’t let the details block your view.

Don’t let doubt and indecision hinder your performance.

Life is short.

Aim high, move fast and focus.

And above all:

  • Dream
  • Believe
  • Achieve

The Placebo Effect

Allow me to expand on the power of belief for a minute and bring to your consciousness a phenomenon known as the placebo effect. It’s that important.

When an inactive and powerless substance improves the health of, or cures, an ill patient, the effect is called the placebo effect. Although the actual mechanism that produces the results of a placebo is still a scientific mystery, enough research has been conducted to strongly suggest that it’s the patient’s expectation, or “belief,” that cures whatever ails them. The expectancy effect can be enhanced through factors such as the enthusiasm of the doctor, differences in size and color of placebo pills, or the use of other inventions such as injections. In one study, the response to a placebo pill increased from 44% to 62% when the doctor gave it with “warmth, attention, and confidence.”

For most of my life I underestimated the power of belief. It was not until I witnessed the placebo effect firsthand that I understood the true power of belief. My understanding of the placebo effect can be summed up as “expectations supported with confidence.” Expectations supported with confidence equates to belief. Beliefs are a prevailing character trait among the successful. The Napoleon Hill quote, “What the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve,” is the foundation of Hill’s philosophy and bolsters the foundation of every successful person’s character.

Here’s why: placebos work.

What you believe in most comes about. You are then what you believe others believe you to be. And you are to them, in large part, what you believe yourself to be. Your belief in yourself will inspire it in others. General Colin Powell refers to belief as a “force multiplier.” If your belief in yourself is lacking, transform your image to that which you want to become. Football star Dionne Sanders used to say something to the effect of “If you look good, you feel good. If you feel good, you play good. If you play good, you win.” Like it or not, your image and appearance are a great place to start when your belief in yourself is low. If you truly believe in yourself, others will too.

The force and power of belief have been ingrained in American culture since the early twentieth century via the children’s story, The Little Engine That Could.  “I think I can, I think I can…” could be the greatest belief you could adopt on the road to success.

A belief that has served me well for years, and has pulled me through my lowest points in life, is, “This too shall pass, and the best is yet to come.” Regardless of what you’re experiencing in life, whether bad or good, knowing and believing it is only temporary will foster persistence and keep you grounded.

Aim high, move fast, and focus.  Dream. Believe. Achieve.

Which Dream to Follow?

A razor-sharp focus is important to achieving your dreams, but where to direct that focus?

There is a shortcut to figuring this out. Ask yourself, “What am I passionate about?”

When your heart rate increases a bit while thinking of your dream, that’s the one to pursue.

When you find yourself excited to talk about it, that’s the one to pursue.

If you find yourself feeling lukewarm about an idea, ditch it.

If you’re finding it challenging to come up with a passionate and unique idea, it’s okay. Look around you. Who is doing something that you respect and admire? There’s nothing wrong with eying someone else’s dream and morphing it into your own. Inspiration comes from everywhere. Inspiration can come from within your own industry or a competitor. Much of this book is inspired by other great writers and thinkers who came before me. It evolved from myriad concepts, faiths, disciplines, techniques, strategies, and systems. I haven’t reinvented the wheel, merely reshaped it a bit and presented it in a different way that works for me, and in a way that can make the difference for you.

Have you ever noticed how you can hear something over and over and over again, but then one day you hear it in a different way from a different source in a different environment and it finally clicks? Your dream may come about in the same way, and if it does, it’s perfectly okay.

In defining your dream, be sure to aim beyond what you are capable of. You must develop a complete disregard for where you think your abilities end. Try to do the things that you’re incapable of. If you think you’re unable to work for the best company in its sphere, make that your aim. If you think you’re incapable of running a company, make that your aim. If you think you’re unable to be on the cover of Time Magazine, make it your business to be there. Nothing is impossible.

Once you’ve decided on the dream to pursue, document it. If you don’t, it’s easy to lose sight.  It’s easy for your razor sharp focus to blur. In its simplest form, write it down. I recommend creating a dream book or vision board. For an example of a vision board and instructions on how to create your own, visit  Create as much detail as possible around the dream. Use emotional images and bright colors. You will need to call on these images frequently to maintain your focus, to get you past the obstacles, to pass the tests.

Clarity around your dream cannot be underestimated. The ability to clearly articulate your dream to others is paramount, and I will expound on this in a later chapter. To attain your dream you will need the cooperation of people. People will follow someone with a clear vision. People love to be around and help people with a clear vision. Why?  In many cases, people are unclear about their own dream and they will follow and support someone with purpose, confidence and clarity.