Do you have a dream?
Fifty-five years ago this month, on 28th August 1963, Dr Martin Luther King, Jr delivered his famous speech known worldwide as ‘I have a dream.’ Here is the most famous part of that speech, words spoken on that momentous day, at the civil rights march at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C.:
“…And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’ …. 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. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today! I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of “interposition” and “nullification” one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today!
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; ‘and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.’
(I Have a Dream, Dr Martin Luther King, Jr)
In this short section of his speech, Dr King repeated the word ‘dream’ ten times.
Repetition in speech is a good way to get across an idea and for emphasis, to show what is important. His emphasis was clear, the importance of his dream; he wanted everyone to know what was on his heart. He wanted to share his vision for the future. He wanted to inspire others to do something about it, to make it happen. He acknowledges the difficulties that they face but motivates others to make what seems impossible, possible, to persuade others to be active in making the dream a reality.
A dream remains a dream until we share it.
Once we share it we begin to see that it may have the possibility of becoming a reality.
The dream can be and usually is big, but we first have to believe in it, for anything to happen. We can be afraid to share our dreams, because our own negativity can make something that is actually possible seem impossible. We tell ourselves we can’t do it. And that may be right to some degree. We may not be able to achieve something on our own, but with the right plan and the right people to help us, much can be achieved. Dr King had the dream. He couldn’t possibly do it all on his own, but sharing his dream, his vision for the future, inspired many others to think that this might be possible. People who had been enslaved, abused, downtrodden, oppressed, who seemed powerless to change their plight began to think that maybe things could change, maybe they could do something. What he did that day was to give others hope. His audience that day were men, women, black, white, and from various ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds, and they would be the ones who would implement the change.
Putting the dream into action starts with a plan.
We may have a dream to do something, we may have a huge vision, and we may even believe in it and share it with others, but it will never happen unless we take action and that action starts with a plan. Just like the javelin thrower, we have to know where we are aiming (high and far), we have to know where the target is, and how we will get there. There has to be some sort of strategy to take it from being a dream to a reality. The vision can be huge, but we have to break it down into small manageable parts.
Think of it like a jigsaw puzzle. You have the vision (the picture on the box) but there are many ‘pieces’ that you have to put together in the right place and in the right way before it becomes whole.
Or like building a house, you have to have the means to build it: the budget, a vision of what it might look like, an architect to put the drawing plans together, the location, and then everything from the foundations to the roof, the plumbing to the electrics, all has to be planned and either you, or a project manager to make it all happen, bringing all the pieces together.
One person doesn’t do it all by themselves. It usually takes many people doing their bit to make it happen and a lot of hard work. You have to be prepared for obstacles along the way, for setbacks, for extra costs. How are you going to manage them, because they will come. You can’t let the obstacles stop you from doing what you set out to do. Making provision for them will help, foreseeing what obstacles might come up, being aware of the difficulties ahead can prepare us for putting strategies in place to overcome them.
We can’t foresee every obstacle
But being aware that there will be obstacles means we don’t give up when they do come and we cope better because we aren’t taken by surprise. This is why so many businesses fail, why so many people give up on their dreams, because instead of seeing the obstacle as a challenge, something to get over, that will make us stronger once we get over it (like a hurdle in a race), they are stopped in their tracks.
One obstacle which is very real is illness, and it will slow us down and sometimes it prevents us from doing our original dream, but very often a new dream will replace it. Sometimes obstacles make us think of something which we may not have thought of before, but something which sends us in a new direction and which is even bigger and better for us.
That’s why it is important to dream big
Sometimes our dreams are too small, we think too small, when actually the possibilities for us are endless. Think of the great masterpieces of music, literature, paintings, buildings and gardens that have been created throughout history. They are grand, but made of very tiny intricate parts with much attention to detail and a lot of hard work. Think of the majestic music produced by a whole orchestra, each musician playing their part, individually good, but together amazing.
The whole is indeed greater than the sum of the parts.
Whether starting out in business, or a new project, or at home with family, a leader in a church, a school principal, a grandmother, a manager, whatever our position in life, many of us have dreams for ourselves, our families, our communities and our world.
What are they? What is your dream? Is it going to stay a dream? Or are you going to do something about it?
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