My downstairs neighbor thinks he’s John Mayer. The only problem is, he’s not. At least — not yet!
We live in a very small apartment complex. I’m talking two stories high with 30 units. Nonetheless, he sings his heart out day and night. Sometimes, it drives me nuts. But I don’t stop him, and I never will.
Not when my wife and I have friends over for dinner. Not when we’re having one of those conversations. Not even when I’m trying desperately to maintain focus and study for the bar exam.
Because friends let friends dream big dreams.
We shouldn’t stop people from dreaming, even if those dreams are irrational, impossible, or outlandish. Instead, we should support them. Here’s why
1. It’s good to dream big dreams
All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible.
—T. E. Lawrence, AKA Lawrence of Arabia, British Army Officer and Writer
Dreams don’t have any chance of coming true unless we dream them.
In Put Your Dream to the Test, John Maxwell insists on the importance of dreaming big dreams and articulating them specifically.
The more significant the dream, the greater the dreamer’s willingness to invest the time necessary to carve out its contours. And the more specific the dream becomes, the more power it has to propel that person forward, catalyzing action.
Thus, even when a friend’s dream strikes us as unreasonable, we should not quench it. Instead, we should do what we can to help that dream loom large, and become less hypothetical and more concrete. The more concrete the dream, the better chance there is that it will come true.
2. You never know what might happen
Several years ago, an unassuming young guy from my obscure, Midwestern hometown exploded onto the international music scene with a Billboard #1 synth-pop hit that he wrote on a computer in his parents’ basement.
It topped the charts in ten different countries and stayed in the Billboard Top 100 for more than 30 weeks! The guy is a musical phenomenon, but his talent and potential were completely unappreciated before his breakout success.
If it happened to him, it could happen to anyone.
Many of us know of someone who became a world-famous athlete or performer against all odds. And almost all of us know at least one person who had a book-publishing dream come true.
That person is the reason you’re reading this right now.
The bottom line is you just never know what might happen. No matter what our assessment of a friend’s likelihood of success is, it’s imperative we don’t dissuade her from pursuing her dream.
Regardless of what you are or what you have been, you can still become what you may want to be.
—W. Clement Stone, Philanthropist and Author
3. You have more influence than you realize
If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.
—John Quincy Adams, Sixth President of the United States
Everyone needs encouragement — especially in the area of their dreams! Though dreams are powerful, they can also be quite fragile. Because they flow from the deepest passion God knit within your heart. They have life-defining potential, even though pursuit of them risks vulnerability.
When a friend reveals his dream to you, he risks his heart and gives you more influence than he (or you) may realize. You have the power to unleash that person’s passion and potential — or to jam a cork in the wellspring, stemming its flow, maybe forever.
If your friend is a dreamer but not a doer, encourage her to take action. Give her the support she needs to take the next step and overcome her fears, excuses, and misgivings so that she can start.
If your friend is already a doer, keep encouraging him! We all need encouragement to continue through life’s many valleys, especially when we’re working hard and don’t see much happening.
Regardless of the goal — whether your friend wants to be a musician, doctor, business owner, writer, or something else — it’s an amazing gift to champion another person’s dream.
It’s a privilege to give friends permission for the pursuit, to help them find resilience to press on. And the fact is we all need that same support ourselves. So why not give it to others?
How do you support a friend’s dreams? How do they support yours? Share in the comments.