Outrageous Dreams During Transition
Updated: Aug 7, 2019
Times of transition can be frightening. They can also be thrilling opportunities to unleash those passions and desires that are deep within you...what my dear friend and mentor Dr. Ann McGee-Cooper often called "outrageous dreams."
Sometimes we are thrust into a period of personal transition for which we didn't ask. Other times we make the conscious choice to leap into something new. Whether it is in our work lives (a new role, promotion, launching a new company, or seeking an entirely new career) or at home (getting married or divorced, having a child, losing a loved one), there's no better time to honor our dreams. That's the frightening part. It is so much easier to tell myself, "Just maintain status quo until you get through this change and then you can go for it." I suspect right now you are thinking about a dream that you've tucked away, waiting for the right time. I know I am. I'm beginning to understand, though, that I'm always in a state of transition. The perfect time to pursue a dream will never come.
I'm in the midst of a significant career transition and in past times like these I always called upon wise mentors like Dr. Ann McGee-Cooper. Ann died in 2016 but my friends at Trammell McGee-Cooper and Associates, Inc. are creating an Ann McGee-Cooper Legacy Library where many of her works are available for free. Today I listened to a community college commencement address she gave: "Tips for Times of Transition." She tells the story of being challenged to write down ten outrageous dreams. She did it, but tucked it away out of embarrassment. Several years later she found the list and, to her shock and amazement, she'd accomplished all of them!
If you ever spent any time with Ann you aren't really surprised that she achieved her outrageous dreams, and you also know that she'd tell you in an instant that you can accomplish yours. Ann's life, though, was not without incredibly difficult and painful life transitions. Yet she always viewed tough transitions as opportunities. In the graduation address she explains how her mentor, Dr. Margaret Mead, told her about "blackberry winters." Dr. Mead explained that when the winter is bitterly cold (especially late in the season) it can feel miserable and like spring will never come. But, when spring finally arrives after the bitter and late winter, the blackberries taste especially delicious. Ann knew that her own "blackberry winters" were the foundation for her success.
Ann also learned that dreams don't happen automatically. Dreams aren't achieved by just surviving the transition. We have to make a conscious choice to take the time to dream our own outrageous dreams. We have to resist the shame that tells us, "You'll never accomplish that...everyone will laugh at you...you aren't [smart] [hard-working] [wise] enough to do that." We have to choose to be, as Ann puts it, a swan that flies high where dreams can come true (instead of a duck that is on the ground, pecking you to death). We have to dare to risk since a really good dream will take us to a new place where we won't have everything perfectly figured out. We'll probably have moments of failure which will tempt us to go right back to being discouraged by our own shame. On the contrary, if we understand those moments of failure as an opportunity to learn, our dream will be intact and the delicious blackberries will be right around the corner.
I want to pursue my dreams. No, I am pursuing my dreams. I'm in the middle of an important career transition. In past transitions, at my worst moments, I let shame creep in and I listen to the ducks around me that are eager to confirm that I'll never even come close to my dreams. This time, though, I'm being intentional to honor my own outrageous dreams, surround myself with other swans, and I'm willing to learn by risking failure. I can't wait to see where it will lead!