I read a wonderful post recently that started my wheels turning. Family on Bikes (on Facebook) shared a blogpost entitled, “Can we all really follow our dreams?”
I read it again this morning, posted a comment, and I couldn’t stop there. Ideas are bubbling up to the surface, and I want to share them here.
Nancy Sathre-Vogel offers some sage advice in her up-beat, encouraging post. The question is posed, “If every single one of us chucked it all and took off to travel the world, who would be left to keep things running?” Her answer lies in the life-affirming mandate to make conscious choices about our lives. As long as we choose to be where we are, we are living our dream for that moment, for that season. I find comfort in this wisdom, easily applying it to my own life. At the age of twenty-three, I chose a wonderful man to marry, and we began a family immediately. I spent many adventurous years raising my brood, homeschooling, laughing, crying, and living my dream of creating a large family. A new season is upon me; my youngest is in public school and I am still supervising school work for two teenagers. The oldest three are young adults, and I am working toward a college degree. I’m living a new dream, one that I have chosen for myself.
We all have dreams, every human being on the planet. Some dreams are huge and scary . . . others are simple and small. But no dream is unimportant. The system human beings have created on this earth requires that a great many people be engaged in the work of fulfilling someone else’s dream. Everything that exists was once nothing but a dream. Every physical item we use every day – our clothing, tools, kitchen gadgets, furniture, cars, roads, homes, office buildings, dams, lakes – every single thing that exists! Think about it! Someone had an idea that became a dream, that he or she worked to bring into reality. And each one of those dreams required that other people come on board and help make that dream come true. My question is this: “How do we create a system in which no one’s dream is sacrificed?”
I’m going to describe two scenarios; they will not be perfect, but this is the way I see the difference between the existing system and a better one.
In this first scenario, someone in a first-world country has a dream to own a nice hotel on an island. The place is a virtual paradise, and he knows that it will be quite profitable once word gets out. He finds financial backers, secures land, and builds a beautiful hotel. He hires educated first-world folks to run the place, do all the important jobs. This is great, because they have always dreamed of managing a hotel in an exotic location. Next he hires a bunch of locals to do the rest – cook, clean, and serve. They think this is great, too, because they see the job as a way to provide for their families. People begin to come to the hotel, enjoying the island beauty and the pampering they receive in the care of the hotel staff. Everyone is happy . . . right?
Now the second scenario: Someone in a first-world country has a dream to build a nice hotel on an island. But he doesn’t want to be the sole owner. His dream is to partner with local people, to help them benefit from this venture. So he finds financial backers, secures land, and works with local people and groups to set up the hotel as a worker-owned business. The beautiful hotel is built, and locals are trained in all aspects of the day-to-day running of the business. Because they have a vested interest in the hotel and are not just low-wage employees, the atmosphere is infused with a satisfaction and pride that can be felt by the guests. Even the maids, janitors, groundskeepers – everyone – is part owner in this grand adventure, elevating the status of their work in their own eyes. They all share in the profitability of the hotel, because they are more than just employees, working to fulfill someone else’s dream. Now, they shareit. They own it. It is their dream, too, because they benefit directly from it. They take pride in it. And everyone really is happy.
Now, I know nothing about business. I know there are problems with my contrived scenarios. But I believe the basic principles are sound. In scenario one, the man with a dream uses others to realize it. In scenario two, the man with a dream invites others to dream with him, and in doing so makes the dream grow. The dream urges others to dream even bigger dreams than they thought they could, to be part of something they hadn’t even considered. “You mean I can be an owner, not just a maid?” Sure you can . . . as long as we are willing to dream dreams that are big enough to carry others along, instead of doing business as usual.
So . . . to answer the original question,“If every single one of us chucked it all and took off to travel the world, who would be left to keep things running?”, I say this – “Keeping things running” can be a part of that beautiful dream, if only we will begin to dream differently, dream dreams that embrace others, seek to create businesses and systems and lives that help others realize their dreams. If your dream is only about you, you’re dream is too small.