Happy New Year! If you’re like me, you spent some time in the past few weeks reflecting on the past year and looking ahead to the coming one. I’m already excited about what’s in store for the next twelve months!
What dreams do you have for 2011? Or maybe a better question is, do you have dreams for 2011? For some people, dreaming is easy. Your mind is full of dreams just waiting to be expressed. But what about those who find it hard to dream? What if you’re not sure if you have a dream you want to pursue?
Let’s face it: Many of us were not encouraged to dream. Others had dreams, only to see them actively discouraged. The world is filled with dream crushers and idea killers. Why? Some people without dreams of their own hate to see others pursuing theirs. Other people’s passion and success makes them feel inadequate or insecure. Others think they’re being helpful: keeping us from risk or hurt.
Business professors Gary Hamel and C. K. Prahalad wrote about an experiment conducted with a group of monkeys. Four monkeys were placed in a room that had a tall pole in the center. Suspended from the top of that pole was a bunch of bananas.
One of the hungry monkeys started climbing the pole to get something to eat, but just as he reached out to grab a banana, he was doused with a torrent of cold water. Squealing, he scampered down the pole and abandoned his attempt to feed himself. Each monkey made a similar attempt, and each one was drenched with cold water. After making several attempts, they finally gave up.
Then researchers removed one of the monkeys from the room and replaced him with a new monkey. As the newcomer began to climb the pole, the other three grabbed him and pulled him down to the ground. After trying to climb the pole several times and being dragged down by the others, he finally gave up and never attempted to climb the pole again.
The researchers replaced the original monkeys, one by one, with new ones, and each time a new monkey was brought in, he would be dragged down by the others before he could reach the bananas. In time, only monkeys who had never received a cold shower were in the room, but none of them would climb the pole. They prevented one another from climbing, but none of them knew why.
Perhaps others have dragged you down in life. They’ve discouraged you from dreaming. Maybe they resented the fact that you wanted to move up or to do something significant with your life. Or maybe they were trying to protect you from pain or disappointment. Either way, you’ve been discouraged from dreaming.
Take heart. It’s never too late to start dreaming and pursuing your dreams. My friend Dale Turner asserts, “Dreams are renewable. No matter what our age or condition, there are still untapped possibilities within us and new beauty waiting to be born.”
If you haven’t done any dreaming yet this year, set aside some time to explore possibilities and commit yourself to new opportunities. It’s never too late to dream.
~Adapted from my book Put Your Dream to the Test