Dreamer or Leader?


What kind of person would look at a rugged mountain of red rocks and decide that was the perfect place to build a chapel . . . Or look to the heavens and decide we should put a man on the moon . . . What kind of person believes in a future that most wouldn’t dare to imagine?

That person is either a dreamer or a leader.

How can you tell the difference? A leader is a dreamer with a plan.

Sure, lots of people have big ideas, they talk a good game. Their eyes light up as they describe “someday” and how amazing it’s all going to be. But when pushed for details of how they’re going to get there, the “if onlys” start to seep into the storyline. The barriers, the set-backs, the roadblocks some external force — usually the all-powerful “they” — puts in place, all conspire to continually push the amazing possibility ever further out of reach . . . for the dreamer.

Can you even imagine the challenges Marguerite Brunswig Staude, the person responsible for the construction of the Chapel of the Holy Cross (shown above), faced in her quest to carry out her vision? For the leader, roadblocks are an expected part of the journey, not a reason to bring it to a halt. Rather than dissolve the dream, barriers build the resolve of the leader, and his or her team, to reach their bold goal.

Are you dreaming about a big idea, or planning to make it happen?

Please don’t hear me say that dreams are bad. Most great plans start with a dream … A big hairy audacious goal. But those dreams will never become a reality if you aren’t willing to take the setbacks in stride and keep pressing forward. If you’re shooting for something that hasn’t been done before, it’s going to be hard. Expect it, prepare for it, and don’t let it throw you off track when it happens. Of course you’ll have skeptics. Your dream isn’t their dream, so what you’re trying to accomplish doesn’t seem reasonable to them (most big dreams aren’t!) That’s okay. Make it happen anyway!

How? One step at a time. Sure you may have to take some side roads and detours, sometimes even doubling back and retracing the same path. That’s one more way you can tell a dreamer from a leader. Dreamers tend to be locked into a specific path. When that path doesn’t work out, well, they tend to think the dream just isn’t in the cards. Leaders, on the other hand keep their eye focused on the end goal. If one path doesn’t get them there, they’ll try another. Think about it … How many big breakthroughs happened on the first try, on the exact course laid out In the original plan? Exactly. Leaders keep at it until they reach their goal, and in so doing, they motivate their team to do the same.

Dreams are easy, anyone can have them. Making something amazing happen on a rugged hillside… That takes the dogged efforts of a leader.

Which would you rather be … A dreamer, or a leader?

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