The Harsh Truth About Being A Dreamer

Amanda Rae

At 17hats, we love to talk about DREAMING.

After all, our purpose is to help other small business owners achieve their dreams. The way we see it, to dream means to have hope. It means possibility and excitement. Or as the movie The Great Showman  perfectly describes: dreaming means ‘we can live in a world we design.’

The word dream has a special child-like wonder to it – a sense of magic – like pulling a rabbit out of a hat… or in this case, 17hats.

Sadly, many people only dream.

If you want to be a successful business owner, you have to be honest and ask yourself: Am I a dreamer or a doer? The difference between the two is ACTION.

Some of the greatest leaders of our time – Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk – were big dreamers. But as equally important, they were big doers.

You see, they didn’t fall silent to the dream; rather they charted a path to get there – a path of ups and down, big losses and big wins – but nevertheless, a path of continuous action.

So what does that look like? What will it take for you to achieve your goals as a business owner?

1) You will need Relentless Determination.

As Steve Jobs once said:

“If you look closely, most overnight successes took a long time.”

It’s hard changing your life. In the process of working towards your dreams, you are going to incur a lot of disappointment, a lot of failure, and a lot of pain. There will be times where you begin to doubt yourself and question why you even started to begin with.

While chasing your dreams, you will have to make sacrifices. Because you will need to want it more than you want anything else – more than sleeping in, going to that party, or taking vacation. While running after your dreams, you will lose friends who don’t understand why you’re choosing a life that’s different than the social norm.

That’s ok. Keep running.

It’s important to realize that a true leader is a different kind of breed. Most people spend their lives trying to impress other people. In fact, they spend so much time valuing the opinions of others, they never discover who they really are or what it is they really want.

Investing your time in YOU is the greatest investment you’ll ever make. The people who are living their dreams are the people who take control of their lives and make shit happen. They’re the people who are hungry, unstoppable, and refuse to accept the circumstances as is.

2)  You Should Never Lose Sight Of Your Vision

Steve jobs was driven by his determination for great and beautifully designed products, and this idea drove him until the day he died. According to his biography, on his deathbed he refused to wear his oxygen mask because he didn’t like the design of it. In fact, the hospital had to show him 5 different designs of oxygen masks before he settled on the one he thought had the best design.

Jeff Bezos, CEO and founder of Amazon, never strayed from his idea of creating “an everything store.” Initially, he started out by selling books because they were small and easy to ship. However, he never lost sight of his ultimate vision: to create an online marketplace that sold everything a consumer could want from A-Z. And that’s exactly what he did.

“If you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you.” – Steve Jobs

3) Perseverance Through Adversity

The people who succeed are the ones who continue to put themselves in the ring no matter how many times they get knocked out.

It’s one of the most legendary comeback stories: In the mid 80’s Steve Jobs was ousted from Apple, the very company he co-founded, after a power struggle erupted between him and CEO at the time, John Sculley. He left Apple and spent the summer of 1985 in a midlife crisis, trying to figure out what he wanted to do with his life. Eventually he clawed his way back up and went on to become Apple’s CEO, taking the company to its greatest height of success.

As Steve Jobs told to Stanford graduates in 2005:

“What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating. I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.”

Jeff Bezos is also a huge risk taker. He admitted in a 2014 conference, “I’ve made billions of dollars of failures.” Further stating:

“If you’re going to take bold bets, they’re going to be experiments, and if they’re experiments, you don’t know ahead of time if they’re going to work. Experiments are by their very nature prone to failure. But a few big successes compensate for dozens and dozens of things that didn’t work.”

Lastly, Elon Musk almost sold his Tesla electric car company to Google in 2013 after it hit rock bottom. It was saved with only two weeks’ worth of cash left in the bank.

The lesson here: Never ever give up. Apply constant pressure for as long as it takes. It will break before you do.

4) Always Continue Learning

…and growing as a person. Achieving your dreams will require you to morph, change, and stretch so far out of your comfort zone. It will require you to change your habits and routines. Shedding your former self can be painful and test your limits, but your experiences will be your greatest teachers.

You can’t get to the level you want to be at, or even to the next level, if you don’t invest in your mind. Read books, meditate, and dedicate one hour every day to bettering yourself. Think of the Kaizen approach. The word Kaizen

Each day, just focus on getting 1% better in whatever it is you’re trying to improve. That’s it. Just 1%. Eventually all of these small improvements will lead to radical changes.

So What Are Your Takeaways?

Having a dream is so important because it’s the first step. However, without taking action, all it will ever be is a dream. You have to define your vision from day one, commit to it, and continue to fight for it at all costs.

The journey won’t be easy, but you better believe it will be worth it.