Growing up we are often told to be realistic, and the frequency and seriousness with which we are deterred from dreaming increases dramatically with age. The little girl that once dreamed of traveling the cosmos or creating a utopia, now in college, is told to “pick a real career” or is blatantly discouraged and dismissed as being “unrealistic” or “too ambitious”.
If we are to thrive as a species, this needs to change.
Take Brian Chesky, co-founder of AirBnb, for example. He dared to dream a vision where strangers would eagerly rent out their futons to complete strangers. He pursued that vision relentlessly. Today, listing your shared studio on AirBnb is completely normalized. Most strikingly is the amount of resistance he encountered during the company’s early days. The number of investors who dismissed his then-idea is staggering, yet he dared. He dared to challenge the preconceived notions he had been subject to his entire life. He dared to dream when others slept.
Brian is not the exception, as evidenced by his example, and those of countless others, these are battles that you might already be fighting on a daily basis. You don’t have to aim to colonize Mars to be considered a dreamer, you simply have to challenge the norm, dare to envision a better future.
In truth, it’s those who never lose the spark that thrive.
As a child, we see the world through an unfiltered lens. Our perceptions are pure, our ideals are unchallenged. It is a brilliant stage in which creativity takes the forefront. You are handed crayons and instructed to express yourself freely. In a few brief moments, you see your wildest visions come to life, even if just ephemerally. However, most of this pure insight is lost as we mature.
Sure, there are roles in society that must be fulfilled in order for things to function, but if we aspire to make an impact, to create a legacy, and to change the course of life as we know it, a 9-to-5 simply won’t do.
We must condition ourselves to challenge these norms.
In fact, this is why we created Unvolve and the Spark brand. To allow people to dream, to share their vision of the ideal future and influence the course of innovation. We give people a voice, and entrepreneurs a vision to find problems worth solving.
We must become comfortable with adversity, dare to challenge. We must ‘lean in’ like Sheryl Sandberg. We must be willing to assume the costs, ever so great, of pursuing our vision.
I am by no means implying that it’s an easy or simple alternative. It is a paradigm shift, one that requires grit, blood, sweat, tears, broken hearts, and lost friendships. Yet, it is the only way forward.
So dare to dream, be courageous, be entrepreneurial. Dare to challenge those who disagree, dare to build something and prove them wrong. Dare to make an impact. Dare to change the world.
Because if you are like me, if you are a dreamer, not pursuing your calling simply isn’t an option.