Today’s article is in response to four questions posed by a young reader.
Q: As far as I can remember (although I’m only 20) I have always wanted to make a difference, and do great things. I have ambitions with no bounds. The sky is the limit. Nevertheless, they make me worry. I wonder the following: do great ambitions arise from great potential (meaning: the potential to achieve our dreams) or does the fact of having the potential to change the world make you desire to do so?
A: This analogy may clarify the relationship between potential, our dreams (ambitions), and their realization. Picture a beautiful flower. The flower (your DREAM) was created in a greenhouse (your IMAGINATION). It burst into bloom because of the earth (your POTENTIAL), which supported and nurtured it. It also needed water (the EFFORT needed to realize your dream) and the sun (your DESIRE, which is created by constantly focusing on your dream).
Here’s another way of looking at it. Desire and potential are not directly linked in a cause and effect relationship. The door of your house or apartment allows you to leave the building; it doesn’t CAUSE you to leave. Your potential, then, is a doorway that provides an opportunity, if you choose to use it. Also, our potential doesn’t determine the size of our dream because we all share the same size potential, which is unlimited.
Q: I wonder if I will be able to make it, or if I am just living an impossible dream?
A: If we all share an equal and unlimited potential, why is it some achieve their dreams and others don’t? Self-doubt and self-limiting beliefs are the cause, for they stifle the dreams of some, making them unsuccessful. The Impossible Dream is impossible only when you believe it is.
Make the Impossible Dream your mantra. Let it inspire you. If you need the lyrics, visit: http://www.wowzone.com/impossible_dream.htm. Everyone should have an Impossible Dream, for they are the ones that produce excitement and enthusiasm. It is hard to become excited by small dreams. Remember: no excitement, no desire. No desire, no effort. No effort, no achievement.
True, some people have disabilities and will need to work harder than the rest of us to reach their dreams. But they are equally capable of greatness. Take the story of Washington Roebling for instance
Regardless of how horrible your circumstances, you are probably not paralyzed and unable to speak. But Mr. Washington Roebling was. You see, more than 100 years ago, Washington’s father, John, had a dream to build The Brooklyn Bridge. Experts at the time believed it to be impossible, but John finally persuaded the city to support his project. He and his son, Washington, were the lead engineers and the only ones who knew how to build such a bridge. After just a few months into the project, there was an accident that took the life of John and left his son with permanent brain damage. Although unable to speak, write, or walk, Washington’s mind was alert and he could move one finger. Determined to realize his father’s dream, he developed a code, which made it possible to communicate with his wife by tapping on her arm with his finger. Washington tapped on his wife’s arm for thirteen years, relaying all the instructions for the engineers. Today, the bridge stands as a testimony of how we can overcome all obstacles, if only we choose to do so.
Q: I do not fear adversity (I enjoy it actually) and I love challenges. I will do what is necessary to succeed. But do I have the right to want to change things and claim greatness in this world?
A: Forget about rights and start thinking about duty. Achieving your dream is not a right, but an obligation. It is a responsibility because the world needs your contribution. To ignore your dream of greatness is to deprive the world of a badly needed resource. In some parts of the world there may be long unemployment lines, but no matter where we are, there are always positions for greatness waiting to be filled.
I know this doesn’t apply to you, but I wish to clarify something you wrote that readers may misinterpret: But do I have the right to claim greatness? We cannot claim greatness, greatness claims us. Those who seek to reach their dreams in order to become great can never become great. Greatness is not about a hunger for fame, recognition, and acclaim, for those are the signs of egotists, not great men and women. The great are humble people who contribute to life because they love it and wish to be active participants in it.
Q: Does dreaming of greatness mean you actually possess the seeds for such greatness? Or can the dream be totally unrelated to the potential needed to make it come true?
A: I already answered this question elsewhere, but it provides the opportunity to restate and reinforce the message. I’ll let two authors speak on my behalf. First, Richard Bach: You are never given a dream without also being given the power to make it true. You may have to work for it, however. Second, James Allen (1864 ~ 1912): “Dream lofty dreams, and as you dream, so shall you become. Your vision is the promise of what you shall one day be; your ideal is the prophecy of what you shall at last unveil.
Well, then, are you ready to embark on your first impossible dream? Here it is. Promise yourself that you will immediately set out on one of the greatest quests of all, the discovery of your own unlimited potential. Once you unlock the fathomless power that exists in your very being, you will be ready to reach any dream. But how do you find your true potential? Well, not unlike Clark Kent who has to strip off his clothing before he becomes Superman, you will first have to strip off your self-doubt or lack of belief in yourself.
So, let’s get to the nitty-gritty, here is your first impossible dream or major goal, by the end of this year, you will strip yourself of all your self-limiting beliefs, unleashing your full power. How do you start on this important undertaking? Here are some helpful books. If you work hard, they will work miracles.
1. SELF-ESTEEM by Matthew McKay, Ph.D. and Patrick Fanning, New Harbinger Publications, 2000.
2. CONQUER YOUR CRITICAL INNER VOICE, A Revolutionary Program to Counter Negative Thoughts and Live Free from Imagined Limitations by Robert W. Firestone, Ph.D., Lisa Firestone, Ph.D. and Joyce Catlett, M.A., New Harbinger Publications, 2002
3. CHANGE YOUR LIFE IN 30 DAYS, A Journey to Finding Your True Self by Rhonda Britten, Dutton, 2004
4. BE THE PERSON YOU WANT TO BE, Harness the Power of Neuro-Linguistic Programming to Reach Your Potential by John J. Emerick Jr.
If you’re getting just two of the books, get the first two and work with both at the same time; if you’re getting three, get the first three and work with the third book after you finish the first two; if you get all four books, work with the last one after finishing the first three. All books are available from Amazon.com.
Additionally, for a spiritual perspective on the art of being great, see Wattles’ ” The Science of Being Great. ” After tirelessly studying the philosophies of Descartes, Spinoza, Leibnitz, Schopenhauer, Hegel, Swedenborg, Emerson, and others, Wallace D. (Delois) Wattles (1860 ~ 1911) consolidated his beliefs and contributed to the New Thought movement with his many articles and books. You can download a free copy of his ” The Science of Being Great ” by scrolling to the last item on this page: http://www.soilandhealth.org/03sov/0304spiritpsych/0304welcome.html
By now, you must agree with Napoleon Hill (1883 ~ 1970) that Man, alone, has the power to transform his thoughts into physical reality; man, alone, can dream and make his dreams come true. I’ll summarize this article in six words: Don’t kill your dreams; execute them!