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March 14, 2016
Growth  |  5 min read

4 Characteristics of Real Dreamers

by Dan Ralphs

As the dream manager of Infusionsoft, I empower dreamers. Now when I say dreamers, I mean the Elon Musk, Mother Theresa, Steve Jobs kind of dreamer, not the “annoying brother-in-law with the dead end business idea at a family reunion” kind. I mean those who don’t just imagine, but those who do. 

After working with hundreds of dreamers, I have learned that whether your dream is to ride an elephant in Thailand, to play in the U.S. Open or to have your first million-dollar launch, there are patterns for success.

Here are four principles that the real dreamers share. 

1. Articulate your vision 

Martin Luther King Jr. saw a future that was clear and concrete:  

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

Our world would be a far different place if Dr. King hadn’t take time to articulate his dream or only said, “I have a dream that someday we’ll be nicer.” There is power in the precision of his language. How clear is your entrepreneurial dream? Can you clearly picture your “oasis of freedom and justice” or are your dreams of the more generic variety? 

Play along at home: Write a clear picture of a day in the life of your business in one year, three years and five years. Write your vision in language that inspires you.

2. Turn “coulds” into “wills”

I was coaching a dreamer whose dream was to go to on a vacation to a little know island in the Pacific. I asked, “Is this a trip you could go on or is this a trip that you will go on?” She hesitated. “Wow, that’s a big difference!” she finally declared. Too often, we treat our business goals as things that could happen, not things that will happen.  

The difference between “could” and “will” is simply a matter of commitment. How much are you willing to bet that your major business priorities for the year will happen? $20, $100, $500, $10,000, $100,000? Gandhi, Musk, and Mother Theresa were willing to put everything on the line for their dreams. What are you willing to put on the line for yours?

Play along at home: Take a look at your business priorities for the next year. Which of them are “coulds”?  Which of them are “wills”?  Which of them should be “wills”?

3. Take a step into the dark

Any dream worth its salt will push us out of our comfort zone and squarely into vulnerability. They invite us out of that which is known and familiar and into the realm of unknown and unfamiliar. To step into the unknown requires courage. Usually, the courage required is not additional bravado; it’s a willingness to be embarrassed or to risk falling on your face.  It’s the four-year-old learning to ride a bike, who struggles and falls 100 times before striking the right balance.   

We have a biological propensity to back down from stepping into the unfamiliar. Rely on your visualized future to feed you the bravery you need to step into the dark.  

Play along at home: Ask yourself: What is one area in which I am holding back because it may make me look dumb or because I may fail?  What would it take to take the first step into the dark?

4. Ask for help

Dreamers have to enroll others in their dream. No great dream was ever done alone. I’ll tell you a secret: One reason I’m sharing this post is to enroll you in helping me with one of my dreams (see below) though it kills me to ask. I have learned that really big dreams require that I enroll those around me. 

I had a friend who wanted to learn how to sell million-dollar software packages. In a trade magazine, he read an article from one of the top sellers in the industry. He needed help, so he reached out and asked for a lunch. Surprisingly he got it! Now, he is one of the top sellers in the industry.  

Play along at home: What are the three biggest challenges you face in your business? Who can you ask for help? Ask them!

Hope you played along at home because those who don’t slow down to dream are on the speedy path to mediocrity. I am going to go get my dream and you should go get yours too! 

Dan Ralphs, Infusionsoft dream manager, is responsible for helping Infusionites discover and rediscover their dreams, then help them map out a path to make it a reality.

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