A hush falls over the energetic crowd. Everyone holds his or her breath for a moment, awaiting the final verdict. Numbers are announced over loud speakers as the crowd once again erupts with joyous applause. After the performance of a lifetime, a dream has been realized; an athlete has won Olympic gold.
As we watch the Olympics unfold, it’s important that we realize each event; every personal best and Olympic medal is the culmination of years of hard work and dedication. The methods athletes use to get to the Olympics differ greatly between sports but all Olympic participants have one thing in common – the ability to dream big.
Many of the most successful athletes will go on to be leaders in their sports: some as coaches, some as program directors, others as officials or motivational speakers. Why do these people excel in leadership positions? It comes back to their ability to dream big and to believe in their dreams.
If the ability to believe in your pursuits is paramount to success, why are so many of us plagued by self-doubt and insecurity? Well, for starters we live in a society filled with “haters”; those people who are happy to shoot down the dreams of others largely because they are too afraid to dream big themselves. In order to be a bold leader, you need to believe in your dream more than you have ever believed in anything before. So much so that even a thousand naysayers couldn’t knock you off your path.
When I started a cultural revolution at Roma a few years ago, there were plenty of detractors. There was no shortage of people who either behind my back or to my face told me that my dream would never materialize. They couldn’t knock me off my path. No one could, except for myself and my belief in my dream was so resolute that even a goal of blurring the lines between work and play wasn’t too big in my mind to achieve.
When faced with a predicament that I’m unable to navigate, I look to leaders from the past, not only for techniques and best practices but also for inspiration. History provides many examples of perseverance and determination but I often return to the lessons two individuals. Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi. Each dreamed as big as any human ever and both gained a following of loyal supporters that kept them on their path in the face of ridicule, prejudice and threats of violence until both paid the ultimate price to realize their dreams. While I would never suggest jeopardizing your life, these examples illustrate the lengths two extraordinary leaders went to in order to change the world. Let’s face it. It’s not every day that someone wants to make the world a better place and then actually acts on it!
So while there is no magical recipe to be a successful leader, the commonalities found in today’s Olympic athletes and yesterday’s heroes provide clues. Below you’ll find my three golden rules for achieving your dreams:
• Dream Big: Your dream has to inspire you first and people must see the inspiration in your eyes! It can’t be a maybe dream, or a someday dream; your dream has to be with you at all times. Once everyone can understand your dream, you will begin to attract people who believe in your cause. Start by sharing your dream with a few people; if they think you’re crazy, you’re on the right track. If not, dream bigger!
• Believe in yourself: If you don’t truly believe in your dream, why should others? Make sure you believe in your dream more than you have ever believed in anything before in your life. All your actions must be consistent with your dream. Ensure that your blog, your posts on social media, your conversations all showcase and get you closer to achieving your goal. Half the battle is convincing yourself. Try this simple exercise: look in the mirror and say, “I can do this, I will do this, I believe in me and my dream; nothing can stop me, it’s my life’s mission.”
• Persevere when others would quit: Set up a support structure for the down days because you will need it. Even the best leaders need support! Create a support group through your social media contacts or those physically around you. When times really get tough, find that safe place and watch an inspiring video on Vimeo, read a passage from your favorite book or speak to that person who never fails to inspire you!
You’ll face adversity at some point and while you don’t need to convince everyone to join you as you change the world, you will need to be determined.
Do you think your dream is dream worthy? If not, don’t fret – just dream a little bigger!