Dreams + Action = Success

“The future belongs to those who believe in beauty of their dreams.”
Eleanor Roosevelt

Marin Alsop began playing the piano and violin at an age when many children are just learning the alphabet. But at the age of 9, her interest in music changed dramatically.

Her father took her to a concert conducted by Leonard Bernstein. And that’s when she got the dream of being a conductor. But until that moment came, she would put all her efforts into mastering musical instruments.

Years later, when Alsop was in her 20’s, she made her living as a violinist while she studied the art of conducting. Instead of waiting for someone to hire her as a conductor, she assembled her own orchestra of 40 musicians and began giving concerts.

Then Alsop received a conducting fellowship where she honed her skills under the tutelage of the very man who’d inspired her so long ago, Leonard Bernstein. Of course, Alsop knew this fellowship didn’t clinch a conducting position for her. For every available position, hundreds of candidates applied. But she never gave up her dream.

And 42 years after she first set her sights on becoming a conductor, she was named the music director of the Baltimore Symphony, the first woman to oversee a major U.S. orchestra.

“My best advice,” Alsop says, “is to pursue that which you are passionate about, and pure and simple never give up! If the front door is locked to you, go around the side and sneak in a window!”

In essence, Alsop had learned 2 of the secrets of success: an exciting DREAM and committed ACTION. And you’ve got to have both. As futurist Joel Barker notes, “Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world.”

When you have both elements, a DREAM and some ACTION, you become the successful person Douglas Everett talks about. He says, “There are some people who live in a dream world, and there are some people who face reality … and then there are some who turn one into another.”

So how can you do that?

=> 1. Get a dream.

Just ask yourself two questions. One, what would you do if you knew you could not fail? And two, what you do if no one would say “no?” Your answers will clarify your dream or dreams.

Unfortunately, too many people fail to ask those questions, and as a result, they die disappointed with life. They never saw what lay around the corner or over the hill. They only saw what went down the drain.

Now I realize a dream can be a little scary. That’s why so many people squash their dreams before they ever see the light of day. They squash their dreams with worrisome thoughts such as, “How will I support myself? … How do I know if this new idea will work? … What will my spouse think? … or … How will my kids feel about this crazy dream of mine?” It’s only natural, to be a bit afraid of the unknown, when the future seems fuzzy and vague.

But take comfort in this thought. Once you get a dream, you also get the power that goes along with the dream. As Carl Mays put it so well, “It’s only when we can see the invisible that we can do the impossible.”

=> 2. Act on your dream.

As the great dreamer Walt Disney would say, “All of our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” In other words, you’ve got to take action on your dreams.

That’s what Bernard Castro did. He hadn’t finished high school when he moved from Sicily to New York City in 1919. Getting a job as an upholsterer’s apprentice was easy; getting the hang of the English language was not. He sought help by enrolling in a night course at a school across town.

On the evening of his first class the city was engulfed in a blizzard. He considered not going. After all, it was a long walk through the icy wind and snow, and he was tired from working all day. Then he remembered an article he’d read. It had said that the fine line between failure and success is the extra effort we’re willing to make or the hardship we’ll endure in order to get something.

Castro had journeyed across the ocean for a better life. How could he let some bad weather rob him of the future he dreamed about? He decided to brave the elements and began the long walk toward the school. When he finally reached it, the doors were locked. A custodian came to the door eventually and told Castro that the school was closed. “No one comes out on a night like this,” he said.

Castro turned into the wind and cold to make his way back home. But he was warmed by the thought that he had been the only student determined enough to struggle through the snowstorm. He believed that one day this trait would help him become successful.

And he was right. In 1931, Castro opened his own shop where he designed and sold convertible furniture. By the mid-1940s, he’d perfected the engineering and design of the sofa bed and patented the mechanism that made the furniture easy to use. He was one of the first businesspeople to advertise on television, even creating his own commercials, and enjoyed decades of success built on his early determination.

If you want to be one of the fortunate few at the top, you’ve got to have a dream, and you’ve got to act on your dream. But you wonder, how do you “act” on a dream. Well, you’ve to…

=> 3. Plan it.

Your dream won’t simply materialize. You need to sit down, on a regular basis, and plan out your strategy for achieving the dream. Break the overall plan down into small, workable steps. And set a time frame for accomplishing each step on your “dream plan.”

In the process of planning it, make sure you…

=> 4. Tell it.

One reason many dreams never go anywhere is because the dreamer keeps it all to himself. It is a quiet dream that only lives inside his mind. So tell others about your dream.

The more you tell it, the more you believe it. And the more you tell it, the more accountable you become. The more likely you are to follow through.

And then…

=> 5. Work it.

As the old saying goes, “Plan your work and work your plan.” And if you do, you’ll discover the power of the Achiever’s Formula, which says: Short-Term Tasks, Multiplied By Time, Equal Long-Term Accomplishments.

When you follow these 5 steps, you’ll see that dreams do come true.

Action:  What would you do if you knew you could not fail? Your answer(s) will point to your dream.