“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails.
Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain
The Beginner’s Mind
Dreaming is dangerous business. It’s breaking from reality and believing that something is possible. Nelson Mandela believed “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” Everything is first birthed with a dream. How do we break through our fears and doubts hindering our ability to dream? The beginner’s mind is where it all begins. It is rooted in a psychology of curiosity, flexibility, and openness like a child. Shunryu Suzuki reminds us, “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s, there are few.”
I have always struggled with the practice of dreaming. When I have been successful, it has always been because of limited assumptions and uninhibited aspiration. And it demands moments of pausing, reflecting, and listening to others so I can observe what is before me in a fresh light. Our mind must be
open to birth a dream.
What’s the most daring thought you can muster? Do you dare dream that big?
Unfortunately, the science suggests we are more likely to discover, and engage with, dreams in our most vulnerable moments: in the morning, at night, and most of the time we are unprepared. “The mind is a great servant but a terrible master,” says David Allen, bestselling author of Getting Things Done and Making It All Work, but that’s because our dreams and our reality are constantly at war, and our attention is at stake. We must be aware of what’s competing for attention, and when it matters.
Christian Nellemann, Founder and CEO of XLN, offers an insight into dreaming in the article, “Don’t Bore Your Customers.” New ideas often emerge when our defenses are down. Ideas don’t announce themselves; they are unplanned and unexpected. Nellemann states that many people believe they are most creative at the end of the day when they are tired. “When we’re exhausted, the part of our brain associated with inhibition – the blocking or filtering of non-essential information from our consciousness – is less effective. This gives more power to non-essential ideas, lateral thinking, and our subconscious.”
Like brilliant thinkers of the past – Salvador Dali, Stephen King, and others – studying and preparing for moments of creativity is crucial if we want to be open to dreams. Birthing dreams can be hard for a control freak, but it’s one of the ways big ideas are discovered.
The subconscious mind makes just about every single decision in our life. Reinforced by every type of bias, our mind defaults to conservatism and safe options. Experts say: “Decisions are made on a subconscious level before our conscious minds are even aware the decision has been made. They’re automated responses. Our conscious minds save energy by engaging in short cuts. The brain also works hard to reconcile what appears to be an inconsistency and often this reconciliation leads us astray. Built in expectations and assumptions are exploited.”
In the end, dreaming occurs when we let go of the excess noise and chatter in our head and focus on what is truly dream-worthy. Dreams fuel us and are contagious.
You can plant a dream. – Anne Campbell