Last Saturday morning, my friend Robert and I met for coffee at a local park.
Welcomed by the warmth of the rising sun, we started to discuss some of Robert’s dreams. I am helping guide Robert through John Maxwell’s excellent book, Put Your Dream to the Test, and Robert has courageously accepted Dr. Maxwell’s challenge.
Put YOUR Dream to the Test!
To say that I highly recommend this book is an understatement. I tell everyone about it! Several years ago, I spent four months working through it myself. At my wedding, I gave it as a gift to all my groomsmen. I’ve discussed it on NexTwelve.com in the past. And I tell people about it almost weekly.
It’s that good.
But the book as an interesting effect on people…
As I explained to Robert, about four out of ten people I discuss the book with will go out and buy it, but only about one in ten will actually work through it.
Because, generally speaking, we resist clearly articulating our dreams
As Robert is discovering, it takes a lot of effort to express a dream in a meaningful, quantifiable way. But more importantly, doing so is intimidating because once your dream has some dimension, you’re responsible for taking action.
Thus, it’s easier to leave the book on the shelf. There’s much less effort involved, and excuses are easier to accept.
Excuses are never the excuse.
I’ve heard all kinds of excuses for not working through the book.
- I’m busy with school/family/job.
- I’m don’t really have a dream.
- I’m doing ok.
- I already know what my dream is (i.e., always something within easy reach)
- I’m just not materialistic.
- That will be my new year’s resolution.
The list goes on. None of these excuses are any good, and any of them will work. More importantly, however, these excuses are just a front.
As I explained to Robert, the excuses are never the excuse.
For example, Christians with whom I explore this topic often use some version of a “I just need to spend more time with God / praying / reading my Bible” excuse.
These are all good things – but this is the quintessential spiritual trump card.
In fact, a guy played this card with me just a few weeks ago – and I called him on it…
Because he’s not going to spend more time with God in lieu of reading this book.
His avoidance was based on something else – and so is ours.
In my mentoring, I’ve run into four issues buried underneath excuses that people make for not pursuing their dreams. No matter what flavor the excuse, when you dig deeper, you’ll find one of these four issues:
Fear – As Steve discussed last week, we often tend to exaggerate potentialities. Worst-case scenarios present themselves more readily than positive ones and seem more likely to come to pass. These ‘what ifs’ form a blockade preventing us from taking action.
Indecision – Sometimes, we simply struggle with an inability to commit. Perhaps having lots of options makes us feel more secure. Or perhaps we feel unable to effectively evaluate the different courses of action we are faced with. In either case, the result is inaction.
Pride – Pride can also keep us from pursuing our dreams by isolating us from other people. Nobody is ‘self-made.’ Pursuing our dreams will require support, including mentors. But pride frequently manifests as the refusal to ask for, or accept help from other people. As a result, we fail to build a winning team.
Regrets – Regret can also impede our progress. We may be unable, or unwilling to forgive ourselves for past mistakes. Accordingly, we may feel unworthy to have our dreams come true. Thus, we never give ourselves the chance.
“Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do.”
– Pope John XXIII
Failure to confront these issues results in lost opportunities. They steal our dreams from us – and oftentimes, we don’t even realize it.
So what do we do? How do we make sure that excuses don’t prevent us from pursuing our dreams?
The first step is to look beyond our excuses to determine what is really going on…
Take a moment for a gut check. The vast majority of us wrestle with excuses for not pursuing our dreams. Chances are, you do too.
Spend some time this week thinking about what might lie underneath your excuses. Then find some time to talk with a mentor, armor bearer, or a member of your ‘Personal Board of Directors.’ Check your conclusion and ask them to help you move forward.
Anyone can identify underlying issues, neutralize them, and start pursuing their dreams!
So, take action today.
Leave a Comment: What excuses have you used for not pursuing your dreams? What’s really underneath those excuses?