August 21, 2011

Who Put That Dream In Your Heart?

It takes courage to go into your heart and pull out your dream.

Every once in a while do you feel a dream moving around in your heart that you almost feel scared to let out? A crazy idea in your head that you figure could never possibly be possible? Do you ever lay your head on your pillow with your eyes wide open imagining what could be, but wake the next morning and, with a deep breath of resolve, get ready for another day of not pursuing the dream?

I have lived this way, and I refuse to ever do so again. Who put that dream in your heart? Did you? Are you the one who creates a stirring in your spirit every once in a while that seems to pull you toward the impossible?

I'm originally from Atlanta, GA. The summer after my junior year at Oglethorpe University, I lived on a missionary/goodwill ship off the coasts of Argentina and Brazil. They were the hardest two months of my entire life. Even so, I chose to go as a missionary to China for a month and then extended that to eight months in Taiwan and that turned into seven years. I then moved my wife and two daughters to Evanston, IL to earn my MBA at Northwestern where I spent a summer at McKinsey & Co (and we also welcomed our third daughter). After Northwestern, I joined Kaplan Higher Education and earned the opportunity to run a small college.

I have moved 11 times in 11 years.


I believe I was diving head first in the deep end of a number of pools of water in search of the dream inside my heart.

Where did I end up? I ended up trying to force a square peg (me) into a round hole (wherever I thought I was supposed to be). I ended up searching for my "function" or "industry" instead of my dream. Am I a marketer or a consultant? Am I an accountant or an operator? OR maybe function isn't even the question! Maybe I'm an education guy or tech or maybe retail.

I learned that when I allow the perceived impossibilities around me to put limits on my vision, then I lose site of who I am -- who I am made to be. I lose site of the possibility of my dream. I also learned that my dream is about people, not about a position, salary, or even building something big.

Who put that dream in my heart? Not me. God did. And I can pursue it. It might be for five minutes a day or an hour. It might take me five years to get there or ten. But I can pursue it. It might require that I say "no" often to all the opportunities that might pull me away. It might mean that I make new friends and that some old ones just won't understand. It might mean that my life and the way I live it doesn't fit in a round hole. But that's OK, because I've learned that when I pursue my dream, I'll find where I fit. My dream should define the shape of the life and people around me, not the other way around.

You can pursue your dream too. It's OK. Take one step today and then another tomorrow, and don't look back. Why? Because God put that dream in your heart.

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