40 Life Lessons to learn before Age 40: #3 Don’t follow your dreams. First do this.

Don’t follow your dreams. 

There I said it. And it still sounds wrong. After teaching it publicly and communicating this incredible idea, I still cringe every single time I say it.

We are a culture of dreamers. A world of dreamers. Someone dreamed of a better way to communicate and we found the telephone. We dreamed of air travel and voila! Well, hundreds of years and a bunch of people dead between Icarus and the Wright brothers, but hey, the dream was everything.

Here’s the rub though. For every dreamer who succeeds, there are millions who end up failing. They never achieve their dream. Remember Bob Dole? The guy who did the global warming after being Vice President, Al Gore? Right. Were their lives failures? No, but they certainly didn’t achieve their dreams.

I dreamed of playing in the NBA. The closest I came was playing against some guys who were drafted but didn’t make it. I dreamed of being a witness of Christ to people who had never heard of him. And I’ve spent the majority of my life not doing that. I wanted to be a young dad. I have a 4 year old. And here I am, coming up on 40.

One failed dream after another.

Seven years ago, I discovered purpose. Now, I gotta confess, I’ve never made it through “the Purpose Driven Life.”  Read that if you want more about purpose. This post isn’t on how to discover your purpose.  I’m here to torpedo the idea of dead dreams.

If dreams are what motivate us, most of us live with a Library of Congress worth of failure. Financially, relationally, emotionally, we honestly have more failures than successes. The Majority never makes it to professional sports, or the catwalk, or the big church.

And I’m not saying don’t have dreams. But let your measuring stick of your life be identity, not dreams.

I basically came out of the womb talking. It’s a little bit of an exaggeration, but according to my mom, not much. “Charles’s bear stories” preceded my ability to write. Now, whether it’s with a keyboard, a camera, a computer canvas, or a spoken word, I’ve always found incredible joy and satisfaction when I tell stories. And strangely enough, other people seem to enjoy them as well.

I was created by God to tell stories. God’s story, and others as well. Simple. As I look back over my life, I feel tremendous satisfaction, not from the things I’ve done, though I’m certainly proud of some of them, but rather the lives I’ve impacted through telling stories.
Day 3.jpg

So go ahead and dream. But dreams are sometimes gone with the morning mist and should not be mourned. Rather, they should be remembered as loadstones that provided the environment and atmosphere for you to be the unique gift you are to humanity.


425 responses to “40 Life Lessons to learn before Age 40: #3 Don’t follow your dreams. First do this.”

Leave a Reply