“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams and you will live the life you imagined,” wrote the great American Philosopher, Henry David Thoreau.
This slightly mis-quoted quote is engraved on coffee mugs, mouse pads, pillows and posters around the world. I imagine Henry's goal was to inspire us to take action. And yet when I read this phrase all it makes me want to do is lay down and take a nap.
Who goes confidently in the direction of their dreams??
Not me. The only place I ever go with complete and utter confidence is in the direction of Dairy Queen.
Come on. There must've been a day in the middle of winter (or maybe April) when Henry stopped and thought, “What the heck am I doing out here freezing my fanny off in these woods when I could walk a mile into town and have a nice cup of cappuccino, with soy milk and extra whip? Besides, no one is going to read my stupid book anyway. I can't write! Maybe I should just work full time at the pencil factory and let all of this go.”
You bet he had one of those days. At least 3 or 4 dozen.
Because the bigger the dream, the greater the goal, the less confidently we will go.
We will go hesitantly, haltingly, start moving in one direction, then go another. We will move forward, then backwards, stop. Then start again. We will seek out resources, and assistance and then go uncomfortably in a slightly different direction. This is all necessary and unavoidable.
After almost 30 years of writing my own stories and sharing them on the stage, I've learned that self-doubt is a natural and normal part of achieving success. Our brains are designed for it. They're wired to protect us from such lofty imaginings as writing a book, giving a speech, or even going for that promotion at work. And if you wait for confidence to arrive and permanently park on your shoulder, the direction may forever elude you and keep you stuck in “imagining” instead of “doing.”
But there is one true way to go in the direction of your dreams which actually works. It will give you energy and courage. It will boost your creativity, keep ideas flowing and calm the part of your brain that is always trying to stop you. It will help you to connect with others in a meaningful way, so that you both can move towards success unexpected in common hours.
That way to go is imperfectly. Go imperfectly.
Did I just hear you just sigh with relief?
Did you feel the weight of the world fall off your shoulders?
Going imperfectly in the direction of your dreams is just so darn doable. I don't know about you, but it makes me want to run out and start going! Well, not going, going, but you know what I mean.
Back in February, after sharing this concept in my speech with 350 audience members in Fort Collins and Greeley, Colorado, I moved from Colorado to Waukesha, Wisconsin. Last week, I was feeling a little low about my business prospecting. As I imagined starting over in a new town, the energy to begin again, just wasn't there.
While I was moping around (Yes, motivational speakers mope around too. Especially when they forget to practice what they preach.), I received a text from my friend and artist, Amanda Fewell. She had been in the audience the night I spoke for Banner Healthcare in Fort Collins.
She wrote, “I just finished a new painting. And you were the inspiration!”
Me? I thought? The Mopey Motivational Speaker? How is that possible?
When she texted me a picture of her painting, I was brought to tears.
Thank you, my dear friend. Yes, I will begin again, and I will Go Imperfectly.