Friends Let Friends Dream Big Dreams

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Jer Monson who writes about leadership, mentorship, and intentional living at NexTwelve. Follow him on Twitter @JerMonson.

My downstairs neighbor thinks he’s John Mayer. The only problem is, he’s not. At least — not yet!

Dream Big
Photo Credit: Neil. Moralee via Compfight cc

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.

So what?

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.

Jer Monson is young professional and aspiring world-changer who writes about leadership, mentorship, and intentional living at NexTwelve. Follow him on Twitter @JerMonson.

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58 thoughts on “Friends Let Friends Dream Big Dreams

  1. This is a great post! I can remember as a kid my parents always encouraging me to dream big and to pursue my different passions and interests. That has always stuck with me through the years. I love what you said about having the power to release someones potential. I think a huge key is constant encouragement. All dreamers get down because it may not happen fast enough, but having someone to encourage you can make all the difference.

    1. I agree completely, Luke. And the impact our parents have on us as dreamers is incredible. I don’t think there is anyone from whom it is more important to receive encouragement. As I get older, I become increasingly thankful for my parents and it sounds like you were blessed with great ones too! Thanks for your comment!

  2. I only tell certain friends what aspirations I have. I do this because I know I’ll get the best feedback from them. The others are my friends but not to the level of the ones I tell my aspirations to.

    The Confidence Lounge

    1. I have a simliar way. Recently started being a tiny bit more open about my dreams but man is it scary. They’re fragile, as mentioned in the post.

  3. Because my dream had been strangled so much when I was a child, it is now quite fragile.

    Being told/warned/scolded to “play it safe” or “don’t get your hopes up” has made my dream skittish and I am terrified to share with nearly anyone. But keeping to myself will suffocate it, taking no action will ensure it will never come true.

    One kind word will propel someone forward, thanks for this encouragement to be another’s catalyst.

    1. Love this, David! Thank you for your vulnerability. I too know what it’s like to feel compelled to play it safe. Here’s a toast to your dream and your courage! Thanks for the comment.

  4. I love this Jer.

    The world (parents, politicians, siblings, you name it) will tell our friends enough that:

    The little man can never get ahead
    You’ll always ______
    Don’t aim too high, you might fail

    So as friends we need to do everything we can to overcome that.

  5. So good and absolutely true. Thank you. I wrestle with people who take it as their mission to be constructively critical and offer no positive affirmations to spur the person on to greatness. I was told by a very good friend that my first book attempt (which only sold 500 copies, but made me a little money) appeared to be written by a jr. higher; it crushed me and caused a huge divide between my friend and I. I resolved to never be that guy and instead have chosen to err on the side of positive communication and action in regards to the pursuits of others around me.

    1. Way to go, Jeff! Critics are ‘a dime a dozen’ but friends who know how to speak words of encouragement become some of the most significant resources in our lives. My guess is that your decision to err on the side of positivity has had far more impact than you realize. Thanks for the comment!

  6. Hey Jer,

    I’ve been supporting a friend with a dream for the past few months. The ways? I’ve suggested this very website, (she wants to write her first book) I pray for her, I send her encouraging texts, I listen to her.

    Even death has been unable to stop my mom’s support of my dreams. I think of her often and am encouraged by things she said to me years ago. I refer to her as my personal and private one woman band of encouragement.

    1. Your friend is lucky to have you, Yvonne. To your second point, it’s amazing how important the foundations laid by our parents continue to be throughout our lives! I’m glad your memory of your mom continues to fuel your flight.

  7. Oh I feel sorry for my downstairs apartment neighbors back in Pullman, WA when I was writing 2-3 country songs a week back in college. I must have drove them nuts with my sad songs and foot-stomping. They never complained.

    1. This made me laugh, Dan. I have to say, I’ve not yet dealt with any foot-stomping! What’s more, it sounds like you were even more prolific than my neighbor.

  8. And the same can be said of our own dreams…to continue on pursuing them no matter WHO thinks they are foolish. Only God knows if they will come to fruition.
    Very encouraging post! Thank you!

  9. Great post Jer. Sometimes we can be afraid that our friends actually might experience huge success because we are not even willing to try. I woudl encourage you to keep writing great posts like this, the impact you will have will be far beyond what you can imagine.

    1. Great point, Chris! Sometimes it’s hard to be encouraging because other people’s dreams exacerbate our insecurities. I think it takes a very self-aware person to recognize/acknowledge this and then choose to be encouraging anyway. Thanks for the insight!

  10. I think so many of us believe that if we don’t take the risk and pursue our dreams it’s no big deal; someone else will fill in the gap. We don’t really believe in our ability to make a difference. The truth is that God has a unique plan for each of us, and in fact: No one can do what we can do! Imagine if we all dared to live our dreams and passions! The world would be so amazing! Thanks for the post!

    1. I couldn’t have said it better, Char. Life is too short not to pursue our dreams, and I think that we are the plan for meeting the world’s unmet needs. Let’s be dreamers and doers of dreams!

  11. A couple of other commentators (commenters?) have already mentioned it, but I think we have a big role to play in this area with our kids. I love that the sky is the limit right now for my 5 year old – but I hate how fast I know the world is going to take that away from him. I don’t want him to be realistic. I don’t want him to settle. I want him to have big dreams and pursue them with everything he has. And if he fails, I want him to know he we went down swinging.

    1. Awesome, Tom! My wife, Rachelle, and I do not have kids yet, but I can still remember a few biting words from ‘realists’ in my childhood. My parents did a good job encouraging me to keep swinging the bat, and I don’t think there are many greater gifts parents can give to their children. Thanks for your thoughts!

  12. Thank you for this. I grew up in a family that put down every thing I aspired to be with the famous phrase “What makes you think you can do that?” At 71, I still have a parent that says it to me? I’m beginning to stand up against that and say “WHY NOT?”

    1. Wow. What a comment! Linda, thank you for your transparency. I bet you’re capable of more than you even realize. Keep dreaming and fighting for your dreams!

  13. This was a great read. Always good to be reminded of the need to seek potential in those with whom we have influence – friends, family, neighbours, colleagues. Thanks for writing.

  14. I love this post! So much truth here and imagine what might happen if we each chose support instead of squash others’ dreams? I’m on break right now at the Midwest Writer’s Conference and John Gilstrap, one of our speakers had this to say on the very subject, “People expect you to fail, people even want you to fail. Because the guy who fails justifies another guy’s refusal to try. You can overcome it.” To try takes much more courage.

    1. Thanks Tracy! I love the Gilstrap quote. In fact, I’m going to write it down to use in an upcoming post on I’ve found that when I’m afraid to pursue my dreams, watching someone else pursue – and succeed – at their own makes me feel insecure. To your point, to try takes courage. Accordingly, I’ve also found that encouraging people who are already pursuing their dreams – even when their pursuit is making me uncomfortable – actually helps me find the courage to pursue my own! Thanks again for your comment. Enjoy your conference!

  15. Beautiful Jeff. I dream of publishing a novel that’s been in my head, getting it published and converting it to a screenplay for independent film then entering it into film festivals. Talking about it makes me nauseous and I have one person who believes in me and backs me up.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Toni. It’s amazing how powerful one person’s encouragement can be. I thank God for the handful of people who buttress my life, especially as to those giant, nerve-racking, ‘I think I’m going to throw up’-type of dreams. In my opinion, if you’re dreaming on that level, your aim is right!

  16. Jeff, thank you for posting this blog by Mr. Monson. This is very encouraging. I am still dragging my feet on starting my own blog, but it seems each thing I read of yours or your guest bloggers or things by Michael Hyatt move me a little closer to enough courage to give it a go. So by way of the internet you are encouraging my dreams. Thank you.

  17. Fantastic article.

    Reminds me of this: The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out.

    Re: “…but his talent and potential were completely unappreciated before his breakout success.”
    I think knowing one’s heart and talents is important. Staying in reality about the current maturity level of our talents and pursuing the reality of the current state of our maturity is assisted by rich and honest community.

    1. Great connection, Brandon! I agree – the encouragement of robust, supportive community is like the soil, water, and sunlight our dreams need for growth. Thank you for the comment.

  18. I had to share this one. I find that encouraging other people to follow their dreams only increases my commitment to my own dreams. There’s room enough for all of us!

  19. I shared this one on buffer to my twitter, facebook, and linkedin accounts and most of the time when I share articles from other bloggers I have about 10-20 clicks per article. I shared and on this one, and there were 240 clicks. WOW! I really enjoyed it and so did my followers.

  20. My sisters and I have become the supporter of dreams for each other. It’s great to think we will be able to share in the successes as well. I am also learning to be a supporter of dreams for my adult children. I think it is an art form to come up with ways to encourage with substance – not just empty flattering. I think that’s what Larry Crab calls “life words” in his book Encouragement.

    1. That’s awesome, Deanna. I agree with your interpretation of ‘life words’ and I think it’s a perfect term to describe true encouragement. Thanks for the comment!

  21. I like what you said about the dreams we have being fragile. “They have life-defining potential, even though pursuit of them risks vulnerability,” says it perfectly because it is absolutely true in my own journey. Thank you for crafting these thoughts for us, Jer!

    1. Thanks Shaena. I really appreciate your comment. I’m married to a Marriage and Family Therapist and can attest to the importance of dreaming together as spouses! Bottom Line: Nobody has more power to encourage (or destroy) your dreams than your spouse. I’m glad to hear that you’ve got a dreamer and that you dream together.

      Also, I agree – you should send this to all your friends!!! 😀

  22. Love this post! I believe it is so important to stand behind friends and support them. Sometimes it’s hard though, because we’re afraid of standing behind our own dreams and chasing them. I believe culture has a huge part in that. I wrote a post on that today. We don’t have to back down on our dreams or downplay the dreams of others anymore. The new normal is to do the hard thing.

    How to Fight Culture’s Brainwashing |

  23. I don’t care how big his dreams are. His right to dream big stops the moment his loud music leaks through my walls.

  24. Great post. Very encouraging. In my experience, people don’t like dreamers. Most people I know seem to think that the greatest and most “sensible” dream you can have is how to “put bread on the table.” The best you can hear when trying to relate a dream is, “There is something wrong with you.” I laugh, I get upset, but I really think it’s sad. Maybe it’s the reason why it’s so rare to find people with great dreams. When I do find one, I try to encourage them and help them believe in themselves and their dreams. I don’t want them to have to go through the same emotional desert I have been going. Great dreamers, even small ones, are important to society. We have to keep them and their dreams alive. As for myself, I try to encourage myself by thinking of all the good comments I had from my teachers and other people in the past, but it’s always a struggle. One of my greatest dreams is to find ONE person who will encourage me in my dreams. For the moment, posts like this will have to do. Thanks again.

  25. Jer, I loved your piece! This is absolutely awesome. I’m not sure if you are a person of faith, but I was reading Psalm 126 this morning. It’s about dreaming and joy (in part). So many times people’s dreams get squelched and they lose hope to dream. I find that so sad. After I read the psalm, I prayed for churches, leaders, and people I know who seem to have lost hope. I felt like I should pray for them to have hope in their dreams, to move past discouragement, and step into the possibility of what good things their futures might hold if they allow themselves to dream again. I’m starting school tomorrow to obtain credentials as a life coach. I share that because I can see your piece used as a way to point others to the importance of a dream. Even if we don’t fully arrive, we get to take the journey. I’ve learned the accomplishment and its celebration quickly fades, but the journey does not. Thanks for sharing your wisdom & inspiration. I hope everyone catches your vision here. I pray you get much joy taking the journey toward your dreams.

  26. Great read Jer!!!! So, so good. The saddest thing about doing something to get to your goals is how little support you get from your friends. It is such a solitary event and you learn not to share it with people because they will most likely be unsupportive.

    They turn things to be about them and how uncomfortable your dream is making THEM.

    My CEO friend in Kenya told me his dream is to build a huge company with revenue in the billions and I sent him an article by Richard Branson and told him “This is you now.” I’m at the same time working on my own highly improbable dream…I have the support of one person…who lives in a different continent and have learnt to work with no support. I’ve become a little crazy, I think. No one see’s where I could go but me and God.

  27. I liked your post a lot. And I do have dreams although the passage of time has a tendency to erode them. Still I persevere. What I’m finding is that there are many that have lost hope in their dreams, thinking they were merely that. Something to entertain while dead asleep. Call me a stubborn optimist but I still believe we can accomplish what we dream about. The biggest naysayer I have now is myself. For when things don’t work out the way I had hoped my voice is the first to say, “See! I told you.”

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