“You have to dream before your dreams can come true”
Abdul Kalam, former President of India
Last Sunday my colleague Tom and I headed off to Barwon Heads, situated along the gorgeous southern coastline of Victoria, for a couple of days of planning. Despite the work we do to facilitate the same process for our clients, I totally underestimated how rewarding and energising an experience it would be. We came away with a clear view of the directions we want to head in and the things we need to achieve to get there. While there is a lot of work left to do to create the plans that will guide us on our journey, we know now how our talent and energy needs to be leveraged to turn our dreams into reality.
As I share in my second book The People Manager’s Toolkit the extent to which any organisation will thrive is unquestionably linked to the ability of the leadership team to:
- Dream big and yet ground ideas in reality
- Understand current reality and what needs to happen to achieve the organisation’s vision
- Lay out a clear plan to achieve strategic objectives
- Link company vision and strategy with the role of every member of the team
- Engage people across the business in the process; and
- Inspire ownership of plans for the future
Our workshop reminded me of how important it is to dare to dream big. My experiences of working with people in businesses of all shapes and sizes over the years has lead me to believe that no-one in life achieves extraordinary things by believing in small possibilities. While this idea has been central to my thinking for a long time, I can’t recall where I first learned it. I have witnessed endless examples of the direct correlation between what people achieve and the extent to which they believed they could.
Over the two days we spent dreaming about our future Tom and I challenged one another to think beyond the boundaries of limiting beliefs. While we understand the importance of grounding our dreams in practical reality, so too is allowing ourselves to imagine possibilities, solutions to which are yet to be crystalized. As Henry Ford famously said, ‘Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t—you’re right’.
Our experiences have taught us that to create the best possible outcome we must start by challenging conventional wisdom. Limiting our dreams to within the safe boundaries of what is commonly understood or accepted is likely to lead to nothing more than ordinary results. Being a leader in any industry takes willingness and the ability to think beyond convention—to have the courage to take the road less travelled, or even one that has never been travelled before. History is rich with examples of the achievements of people who dared to think differently and give new things a go.
Reflecting on our workshop and the plans we were able to create I was again reminded of how important it is to share dreams with people we trust and respect. I have no doubt that the strength of our relationship, the emotional ownership we both feel and our willingness to link arms and strive to get there together will take Tom, the rest of our team and I to amazing places in the years ahead. We are excited about our future and can’t wait to begin to unveil what we have in store for the world and business and beyond.