General

Thankfulness: The Game-Changer

You might think it’s easy to be thankful this time of year. There is delicious food, magical sights, holiday parties, days off work? The list goes on. But maybe you don’t have any of that to enjoy. Some of my dreams seem no further along than they did last year at this time, and so on. Yeah, be thankful, right. When I start feeling down like this, there is one thing I’ve learned recently that amazes me every time I recall the lesson and act on it.

Choose to be thankful at all times. No matter what is going wrong, my guess is you have something or some things going very right. Do you have food and shelter? Those are two big items right there. What do you have to be thankful for?

Thankfulness is a game-changer. Writing down what you are thankful for is particularly powerful. My outlook changes dramatically when I do that. Give it a try!

Here is my list of things I am thankful for, related to my dreams, along with some questions to get you thinking:

1. My God, my friend -  Have you made Him your friend?

2. My parents - What things have your parents done for you that you take for granted?

3. My girlfriend - She is beautiful, powerful, fun, supportive, and she spurs me to dream like few have.  Who do you have in your life that can encourage you to dream?

3. My extended family and close friends - Who do you allow in your inner circle? Why?

4. My pastors and mentors - Who can provide you with unbiased counsel and opinions?

5. My elder and younger friends - Who can you take lessons from and to whom can you show the way? Also, keep in mind, people are watching you. Have you asked them what they see? Don’t assume.

7. My longtime friends and new friends - I live in an environment that attracts people from all over the world. Interacting with different cultures makes me come alive unlike anything else. What’s more, no matter where I go from here, I’ll always have friends all over the world. How cool is that?! Who is someone you should befriend? At the same time, few things are better than striking up a conversation with an old friend? Which old friend have you called lately?

8. Doubters - We all have had people say there’s no way we would succeed with something, only to prove them wrong. Who is a doubter you have disproved?

9. People who have made mistakes - I’m a firm believer that you can learn something from everyone. That may mean that you do what they didn’t do or vice versa. Of course, you may fall into this category at one time or another. That’s OK. Let someone take a positive away from your negative.

10. Freedom - I am thankful to live in the USA. What’s more, lately I have experienced new-found freedom - freedom to be fully me, freedom to take more risks, freedom to not have all the answers along the way, freedom to try new things - What freedoms are you thankful for? What freedoms do you take for granted?

At this point, I think you get the idea. It takes other people to make a dream a reality. Who did I forget on my list? What does yours look like?  Have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Thank you, Dreaming Made Simple readers!

"All Right, Smarty Pants!" Co-Founder and Co-CEO Courtney Nichols Gould

 Courtney Nichols Gould, SmartyPants Vitamins

Courtney Nichols Gould, SmartyPants Vitamins

SmartyPants Vitamins "brings the yum back to being healthy."  Co-Founder and Co-CEO Courtney Nichols Gould shares about seeing challenges as opportunities and about enjoying the ride this week on Dreaming Made Simple.

Dreaming Made Simple: What’s your professional dream?

Courtney Nichols Gould: My dream has a few parts: Build something that is of true service to others; work in a challenging environment that pushes me to the edges of my abilities, and surround myself with a group of people committed to the same, who tend to laugh when things get absurdly hard.
 

Dreaming Made Simple: How did your dream originate?

This current dream, SmartyPants Vitamins, came out of a conversation with our co-founders about the challenges of keeping kids, and all people, healthy. It snowballed from there into a challenge and an opportunity to change an entire industry that had an honorable intention of improving people's health, but some questionable practices, such as lack of transparency and quality at times. We are on a mission to bring more health to more people every day, whether through our products or through the matching grants we make for every bottle we sell. I love my job.


Dreaming Made Simple: What have been the biggest obstacles or challenges to realizing your dream?  What advice do you have for others in pursuit of their dreams?

Courtney Nichols Gould: Oh, what isn't challenging! It's a daily endeavor - The obstacles are constant and ever-evolving, and there is no finish line.  Really, you just get up every day, look at what needs your attention and get to it.

Here is what I would suggest: Listen to Elizabeth Gilbert's "Big Magic." It's a book and an even better audiobook about creativity that serves anyone in pursuit of a dream.

Don’t focus so much on the end point - It’s important to have vision, but the more you can really dig in to the process and give it your full attention, the more enjoyable it will be, and the more likely to create a brilliant outcome as well.

Ninety-nine percent of anything is execution. Ideas are easy. Grit, resilience and a willingness to keep going are critical. Every dream has its drudgery, so don't be annoyed or surprised by it.  It's all part of the ride.

If your dream, you poor soul, happens to be entrepreneurship, then read "The Hard Thing about Hard Things" by Ben Horowitz and "Shoe Dog" by the founder of Nike. Not for the faint of heart, but I wouldn't do anything else. 

Inga Zinge Pupina on How to Think Like Royalty

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Inga Zinge Pupina is founder/CEO of ROYAL KEY, an interior design business based in Kuldiga, Latvia. Inga and her sister and brother-in-law, Aiga and Robert Vaitkus, operate the business together with close friends.  Inga shares about dreams realized and the perseverance and vision it takes to reach dreams and goals.

Dreaming Made Simple: What accomplishment are you most proud of?

Inga Zinge Pupina: One of our greatest achievements as professional interior designers is a permanent exhibition at the Gobustan Museum. In collaboration with Dd Studio, we designed and installed a permanent exhibition at the Museum of Gobustan National Historical-Artistic Preserve in Azerbaijan. Gobustan is a unique monument where one can find petroglyphs, or stone carvings, created since the end of the Paleolithic Era, up to the 20th century. Today, Gobustan Preserve is included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. We received a special prize at the EMYA (European Museum of the Year Award) for the permanent exhibition.

Another project on our hearts is The Identity Pillar in Kuldiga, Latvia.  It complements the Town Hall Square landscape with interactive elements of the people of Kuldiga and the guests of the town. They reveal the essence of the town dwellers, highlighting a historical inheritance rooted in values that support our present and future. One facet defines the main values; a second facet is formed with a mirror which, while reading proclamations, is used for self-reflection; a third facet is an interactive display which plays a video where 27 citizens proclaim the true identity of their town. The materials used were wood, steel, granite and glass.  It officially opened on May 15, 2015. 


Dreaming Made Simple: What have been the biggest obstacles or challenges to realizing your dream? What advice do you have for others in pursuit of their dreams?

Inga Zinge Pupina: Each dream is an achievement.  There is always the season of occasional physical and creative fatigue. In these moments it is always important to come back to the question of why do we do what we do? And what is our big vision?  Unity of the team is also a very important thing in achieving a dream.

Dreaming Made Simple: What steps have you taken to get to where you are presently?

Inga Zinge Pupina: Do only those tasks and projects which the team believes in from the heart.  Provide customers with the results so that they get a lot more than they hoped.

Gary Aspden on Designing Dreams

Gary Aspden is a creative consultant and brand expert at adidas.  This week on Dreaming Made Simple, Gary shares about defying the limits of what’s possible, doing a job the right way and how the biggest challenge you may have to overcome is your own perceptions.

Dreaming Made Simple: What’s your professional dream? How did your dream originate?  How has it evolved?

Gary Aspden: My professional dream was to be designing a capsule range [a collection of a few essential items of clothing that don't go out of fashion] for adidas. That dream originated in the late ’90s when I began working for them. I realized that doing something like that could maybe happen one day.

As a kid I would never have dreamed of doing that.   I grew up in a small, working-class town and had never met anyone who worked in a creative job.  It just wasn't on my radar. Consequently, as a teenager, my only dream was to not have to spend my life working shifts in a factory.

Dreaming Made Simple: What accomplishment are you most proud of?

Gary Aspden: Doing what I do while maintaining some integrity; never losing sight of where I came from; having some gratitude; and trying to treat people well along the way. I never forgot the people who were kind and generous to me when I was starting out doing unpaid internships.

Dreaming Made Simple: What have been the biggest obstacles or challenges to realizing your dream?  What advice do you have for others in pursuit of their dreams?

Gary Aspden: I am always my own biggest obstacle.  I often underestimated my own value when I was starting out. I don't like to give advice, although I am convinced that being consistent and reliable are key to success. Doing what you say you will is crucial.

Mika Maeshiro: Embracing the Unexpected and Staying the Course

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Mika Maeshiro is an aspiring doctor who recently took part in her first medical mission. This week, on Dreaming Made Simple, Mika shares about responding to the unexpected, dealing with doubts and the importance of encouragement in your dream pursuit.

Dreaming Made Simple: What’s your professional dream? How did your dream originate?

Mika Maeshiro: I realized at age 16 I wanted to be a doctor and do medical missions.  I wanted to take medical skills into places where they don’t have a lot of access to medical care.  I was looking for direction from God about what to do with my life. One of my leaders was talking about how missions are about meeting people’s practical needs before we try to meet their spiritual needs.  Something about that really hit me.  More than anything I want to serve people. God encouraged me about being a doctor and doing medical missions.  That scared me because as a kid, I resolved in myself that I wasn’t going to be a doctor or a missionary because those things are too hard.  When I got that idea, I was like, ‘What the heck?’  It’s been a pretty interesting journey since then.

It was something that grabbed my heart in a way that I wasn’t really expecting.  At the time, I didn’t really like science, and being a doctor sounded so intense and daunting.  I had one year of high school to do, so throughout that year, I was trying to figure out what it looks like to pursue being a doctor and doing missions.  I started off not even liking science. Now I am the biggest biology nerd that anybody knows.  It’s so much fun to see how God has molded and grown me in that.

Dreaming Made Simple: What has been the biggest challenge to realizing your dream? 

Mika Maeshiro: For me, it’s the lie that I’m not good enough, that I’m not smart enough or don’t have what it takes or that I’m not going to live up to the standards of what it’s supposed to take to become a doctor.  That one has gnawed at me since the get go.

God has reassured me that the reason why things seem so hard now is that I’m actually breaking through things that I need to be a champion in the future.  I’m doing things now to set me up for later.

Dreaming Made Simple: What advice do you have for others in pursuit of their dreams?

Practically, get people around you who are inspired by your dream. If you have a dream in your heart that keeps you up at night because you are excited about it, find other people who feel the same way.

Even if they are not super excited about your specific dream, find people with a like heart or a similar passion. Then find people who are passionate about what you’re doing – not even for themselves, but people who will cheer you on.

I wouldn’t have even made it this far if I didn’t have people around me pushing me on, cheering me on, saying, ‘Go, you can do this...'

I just got back from my first medical mission to Africa.  Coming home, it’s like, ‘OK, this is something I’ve been dreaming about since I was 16 years old.  A small glimpse of it just happened.  Now what do I do?’ 

I want to keep pursuing that, but also I need a new dream.  I need something else to drive me forward.  It’s not because my dream to do medical missions is fulfilled but because it needs to grow and get bigger.  It’s really amazing but also important that we be able to expand our dreams and go after new dreams… Let your dream be fluid.  Hold it with an open hand.

What Do You Expect?

We hear it all the time: “You get what you are looking for,” and so on. But do we really believe that type of statement?  If so, prove it.

Recently, I got a reality check when I checked into my hotel room.

 

“Open doors you never knew existed,” the envelope for my key read.  Now, I’m not sure, but chances are that phrase is on every room key envelope at that hotel, and it’s been on them for some time.  It would be easy to miss.  It’s certainly not the norm to travel on the basis of hotel rooms and their inspirational messages, but I happened to catch this message.

Why this message, and why me?

Perhaps because I was looking for a confirmation of the open doors I sought.  My question, then, is how often do we find or miss what we are seeking, as a result of attentiveness?  What can we do about it going forward?

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Dr. Duane Carter on Pursuing Your Dreams

Duane Carter is a pediatrician, a writer and a dad to 13 children. This week, on Dreaming Made Simple, Duane shares about his “aha moment,” about how his dreams have evolved and the importance of self-care.

Dreaming Made Simple: What’s your professional dream? How did your dream originate?

Duane Carter: My initial professional dream was to be a doctor. I can take you to the very place where it originated. I was in Mr. Fortenberry’s seventh grade biology class watching a documentary on how medical science developed the heart transplant. I knew that day, “THAT is what I’m going to do.”

I began to focus right then and there on being a doctor, specifically a surgeon. I began to read and study about it. I knew I had to keep good grades, so I did. I never took my eye off that goal, and I really never considered anything else, so in a way, it was easy to stay focused. When I got into medical school, though, I realized the lifestyle of a surgeon was NOT what I wanted at all. After taking my pediatrics rotation in my third year of medical school, I knew that pediatrics was what I wanted to do.

After a few years of being a pediatrician, I began to think about writing, and now I have a dream of publishing a book, specifically a novel or a memoir.

DMS: How did your writing dream come about?

Duane Carter: I started writing poetry in high school. It was odd in that it came somewhat easily for me. I really began to cherish it, though, when I was introduced to the poetic masters like Woodsworth, Frost, Eliot, Blake and Shelley in my English classes in high school (Thanks, Ms. Ford!!) I just would get a thought in my head, and I would sit down to write it, and it would turn into a poem. So, I started at 15 or so, and I never quit.

I went through several years, in the midst of medical school and residency, where I wrote very little. Then I began to have some great personal struggles that somewhat led me back to writing, and I’ve never stopped since.

One day I was looking at a photograph I had taken while hiking and it “spoke” to me. I began to write what I heard, and so a new form of poetry for me happened. I began to take photographs of places and situations where I saw beauty and design and grace, and then I would write about the place. It was great fun.

It’s funny to see that a lot of the things that are dreams being fulfilled in my life were surprises, things that “just” happened to me, things that popped up in my life, and I saw that I really wanted to pursue them, and I chose to do so. I always encourage my kids to watch for these things. When something grabs your heart, even if it’s in the middle of what seems to be the normal and mundane, go for it.


DMS: What accomplishment are you most proud of?

Duane Carter: I could list things like academic awards and such, but honestly, I think the thing I’m most proud of is being a parent to 13 children (12 of whom are adopted). And the funny thing is that those adoptions were more my wife’s doing than mine. However, being a father to children from all over the world has been my most life-changing accomplishment.

DMS: What advice do you have for others in pursuit of their dreams?

Duane Carter: I answered that one a little above. For one, don’t get so caught up in your dream that you forget to live life. Travel. Have fun. Spend time with friends and family. Make really, really, really great relationships. Sure, focus and hard work are important, but living life is much more important. I understand there are times for sacrifices. Sacrifice is essential, I think, to making dreams a reality. But for Pete’s sake, don’t give up the really important things of life (like love and relationships).

DMS: What steps have you taken to get to where you are presently?

Duane Carter: Honestly, I’ve simply worked hard. However, I can’t emphasize enough the importance of my wife sticking with me through the hard and difficult times of pursuing my professional dream. That’s why I said what I did above regarding relationships. I read. A LOT. I read, I listen, I put things into my mind that are focused on what I want to do. For example, right now I don’t spend as much time reading about medicine as I spend reading really good books and writing poetry. I surround myself with people who are high achievers. And last but not least, I’ve learned to enjoy life more. It’s OK to have days of just resting and relaxing. It’s OK to go on vacations and not work. It’s OK to love one’s self. I’ve also learned to take care of myself much better with good sleep, good food, and exercise. I think I’m better off physically, emotionally, and spiritually than I’ve been my entire life.

Miller's Musings: New Beginnings

This week marks the debut of my business, Dreaming Made Simple, which features practical strategies and resources to help make your dreams happen.

Announcing the launch has me thinking about new beginnings.  Here are some questions going through my head:  
 

How do you know when to begin?  If you have a story about starting a business, relationship, trip and so forth, I’d love to hear your thought process.


When beginning, how do you start?  Do you ease in or go all in as fast as possible?


Why do you start?


Is there something that you need to start?  What are you waiting for?


Do you have examples of previous beginnings that are still going strong?  How do you keep going?


Are new beginnings exciting, scary or both?  How do you manage your emotions?


What causes a good or a bad start?


What is the effect of starting vs. waiting?
 

I’d love to hear about your experiences with new beginnings.  Leave me a comment below or on the Dreaming Made Simple Facebook page.

Will Leitch: Turn Back Tuesday

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A little more than four years ago, I interviewed journalist Will Leitch to debut my first web site! This week, let’s revisit my conversation with him for two reasons: First, Will offered some great insights. Second, this is the first interview on Dreaming Made Simple.

Dreaming Made Simple is your dream destination for practical strategies and resources to help make your dreams happen!

Sam Miller: What is your dream?

Will Leitch: All I ever wanted to do was write for a living. More accurately, all I ever wanted to do was to write about things that I care about. For me to have the opportunity to write about what I want in a lot of different places, it is a dream. My dream is to be able to keep doing this as long as I can. It’s not so simple as “OK, you made it. You’re all done now.” I have to keep working hard to sustain that.

Sam Miller: When did you realize you were living your dream?

Will Leitch: If you had told me six years ago, “Will, you’re going to be able to do a movie site with your friend Tim [Grierson]; you’re going to be able to write for New York magazine, one of your favorite magazines; and you’re going to be able to write a big story about Michael Vick for GQ,” I would have been like “Holy crap, I’m living the dream.” Once you’re actually doing it, it’s just work, which is good. I think people have a bad connotation with work. They equate work with job. I like to work. That’s what gets me up in the morning.

Sam Miller: What are the steps you’ve taken to get where you are?

Will Leitch: A large percentage of everything that happens for anyone is luck. You make your own luck, don’t get me wrong. Once you are given an opportunity, you have to take advantage of it. As it happened, Hugo Lindgren was a deputy editor at The New York Times Magazine. (He now runs the Magazine.) He stumbled across one thing I had written at The Black Table and was like, “Hey, this is kind of funny. I’ll e-mail this guy and see if he wants to do something.” That was absolute luck. The funny thing was I got assigned a huge story, a big huge story, that to be honest I am not sure I was quite ready for, but I worked my ass off on it. It was luck that he even stumbled across me in the first place. On the one hand, he did come across the story. On the other hand, I also wrote a million other things that he did not just stumble across. People misunderstand luck. They think, “That person’s just lucky.” No, you have to put yourself in a position to be lucky.

The first step was deciding that this was what I was going to do. I don’t know if I had necessarily decided that when I moved to New York. I think I knew it in college, but there is a difference in knowing what you want to do and to be, like “I’d do this forever even if I die.” I remember a lot of people in my journ program or different English programs that wanted to be writers, wanted to be journalists. They’d say, “I’ll give this [career] until I’m 27 or 28, then I’m going to law school.” Well, in my opinion, you’ve already lost when that happens. I remember a conversation that me and [Deadspin editor, A.J. Daulerio] had. I was 26, he was 27, and we were both really struggling. We had a friend of ours who was a lot older than us. He was not doing well with his career. We thought, “He was a failure. Are we willing to be failures?” We both decided yes. We were willing to have it not work because we wanted to do it and believed in it.

I think that’s the most important thing – to be willing to go down with the ship. You can’t look for an escape hatch.

If my wife had met me in 2003, I was the biggest loser you could find. I could barely afford rent, I had a crap job, I was writing for free, I was a mess. But I knew what I wanted to do eventually, so I had to put in the work and hope that I caught a break and, if I did, to take advantage of that break.

Sam Miller: What lessons have you learned?

Will Leitch: The main one is not to get distracted and not to give up. I find a lot of people act like a job is owed to them, or they deserve it, or they’re special. A lot of the people who have a really hard time are people who are not ready to deal with setbacks.

A lot of people want to be writers but they don’t realize that requires a ton of work. I don’t think there’s a mystery to it. I think people want there to be. I know a lot of people who love the vision of themselves as writers, but really, you’re committed to it or you’re not.

You don’t even want to know how many years my parents thought, “Why is he in New York? What is he doing there? We send this kid to college, and he’s working in a doctor’s office. What a waste of time this was.” I was a total failure for a long time.

Sam Miller: What’s next?

Will Leitch: All I want to do is to keep doing this and to make it work with my life. I want to be able to do the things I want to do while making sure it doesn’t take away from the things I need to be as a husband and a father. That’s my next goal, to figure that out.

There’s no point where you hit a finish line. That’s something I didn’t realize when I was 25 or 26. I always thought I’d hit a point where I made it. You never hit it.

Thanks for reading!  Keep watching this space for more interviews like this one and for more about Dreaming Made Simple

Inspiring Women's Miriam Gonzalez on the Importance of Role Models on Dream Journeys

Inspiring Women
Inspiring Women

Miriam González is the founder of the Inspiring Women campaign, a UK-based organization that gives girls in school opportunities to hear from female role models who cast vision for their futures.

This week on Sam’s Dream Blog, González, named an Influential Educator by Noodle, shares about the importance of mentors, giving back and seizing opportunities on the dream journey.

Sam's Dream Blog: What’s your dream for the Inspiring Women campaign? How did your dream originate? How has it evolved?

Miriam González:My dream is that every girl in the UK, and then in every country, realizes that they are free to shape their lives, that the only constraints they face should be the extent of their own effort, and that there are lots of women out there ready and willing to help them.

I would like to see the Inspiring Women campaign expand abroad, and I would simply love convincing UN Women to support the campaign worldwide.

I started the Inspiring Women campaign in 2013. I have always been passionate about gender issues, but it wasn’t until I had been myself subject to many labels in the public eye that I realized I should speak up publicly about the remaining sexism in our societies. I believe in women speaking up and talking to the next generations of women. That is what the Inspiring Women campaign is all about.

Also, I had read an interesting survey conducted by Girlguide in the UK, saying that more than 55 percent of girls aged 11-21 years old don’t think they have enough access to female role models. So I thought, “That is ridiculous, there are thousands of great women out there. Let’s just bring them to schools where the girls cannot miss them!”

And that is precisely what we do. We ask volunteers to give one hour per year to go back to school to talk about their life, their career, their choices… In two years, we have gotten nearly 20,000 wonderful volunteers from all backgrounds within the UK, and we have reached 500,000 girls at state schools across the country.

Now, we are about to launch the campaign internationally, and we do hope that the U.S. joins us soon!

SDB: What accomplishment are you most proud of?

Miriam González: Being able to start the Inspiring Women campaign is one of the things I feel most proud of. I feel very privileged for having had the public exposure (thanks to my husband’s role as the UK Deputy Prime Minister the last five years) that has allowed me to set up the Inspiring Women campaign and have such big success.

SDB: What have been the biggest obstacles or challenges to realizing your dream? What advice do you have for others in pursuit of their dreams?

Miriam González: I have had many dreams throughout my life and my career, but I never had a plan. There is not a clear path for everyone, and we all have ups and downs. The most important thing is to aim high and keep trying, no matter what. I have always worked hard – I still do work hard - and I have taken most of the opportunities I have found on my way.

Thanks for reading Sam's Dream Blog!  Click here for more information on the Inspiring Women campaign

Dreams: What Gifts Await You?

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Editor's Note: This was originally posted last year, but it rings just as true a year later.

Wow, have we reached that point already? It’s Dec. 22, and you know what that means. Three sleeps till Christmas. All the excitement about this most festive time of year caused me to think about when I was younger. For weeks, there would be a pile of presents in front of our family Christmas tree. Many of the gifts had my name on them! Hopefully you can look back now with similar memories.

These days, the gifts I really want usually can’t be wrapped in a box - The best gifts at this age are either people or experiences. You know what I mean by experiences? I mean hopes and dreams.

Let me share a thought with you. What if our hopes and dreams are like those presents under the tree? What if there are hopes and dreams with my name on them, with your name on them, that are securely yours? It’s simply a matter of time before you are able to open them. How would that change your perspective on dreams, if you knew you were all but guaranteed to get specifically what you hoped for, or better? For example, did you ever ask for a piece of a Lego set for Christmas, only to get the whole set instead? Imagining dreams as Christmas presents sparks me to dream bigger and to keep dreaming where I have perhaps hit the pause button. How about you?

What "gifts" are waiting under your tree?

Brad Webster: Making Your Mark

Brad Webster
Brad Webster

Brad Webster is brand strategist/ creative director at Webster Branding Strategy & Design. This week, on Sam’s Dream Blog, Brad shares about the importance of planning, taking risks and having right beliefs during the dreaming process.

Sam's Dream Blog: What’s your professional dream?

Brad Webster: To propel people, give them an opportunity to step into their own calling. Some of the best ways I can do that emotionally is to encourage people and continually call out their potential. Practically I can be a person who provides opportunity. So basically, my professional dream is to hire people with potential, give them an opportunity to do what they love and earn a good income.

SDB: What accomplishment are you most proud of?

Brad Webster: Some highlights are putting on a benefit concert for the Costa Rican rainforest when I was younger. I had some connections and brought in Anthony Kiedis, who is the lead singer for the Red Hot Chili Peppers... I used to be a sponsored snowboarder, so getting on the Airwalk snowboard team in '97 was cool... Also I was a snowboard coach and coached two of my kids to national championships.

SDB: What have been the biggest obstacles or challenges to realizing your dream? What advice do you have for others in pursuit of their dreams?

Brad Webster: The main thing is follow through. When we have a dream, we almost always imagine that dream in full glory, but it's quite a process to slog through the initial start-up part. There are details we never thought about, as well as road blocks and disappointments.

Often money can be an obstacle, and right now, for me, that is. What I am learning, and the advice I would give others, is to make a plan. Pretend you have the money sitting there and then make your plan. It needs to be a real plan, not just a pretty plan for investors, one that you will actually execute. At the end of the day, the ones leading any conversation will be the people who actually did it - whether it's a bad movie or a good movie, a book, a business idea, whatever. If you don't do something, there will be nothing to talk about, only what others have done.

SDB: What steps have you taken to get to where you are presently?

Brad Webster: Easy: risk. At the end of the day, you can plan all you want, but at some point, you have to step off the end of the dock. You have to push away and actually try it. It was scary to leave a steady paycheck, and it's always a risk. Any dream you have is a risk inviting you to push the envelope in some area. Otherwise it wouldn't feel so appealing or enticing. That is one step.

Another is having a plan. A third is having people believe in you. You need people to push you on when you don't know if it's possible anymore. I needed to know my wife backed me in my risk. Having people run with you is really, really important.

Wealth is not about money. Wealth is about influence. It is that simple. When you believe that you are powerful and you can make a positive difference in the world around you by going after your dreams, you move forward. When we move forward and bring change, we create momentum for ourselves and hope in others that change is possible.

If you ever speak to a homeless person, they may have definitely had some bad things happen, but the difference is they have lost their belief that they can influence or change the situation. They think if something in the system was changed, or somebody else would make a decision to help them, then things would be different. They basically have lost their influence on their own life. They believe they have 0% influence and the cold, hard world has 100% over them. But it's just a deception. It's a wrong belief. So always believe that you can do something to make a difference.

You pursuing your dream will bring personal fulfillment to you as well as release the potential for others to be inspired by you, and go after their own. Others will see them, and it creates a strong ripple effect. You can do it!

Thanks for stopping by Sam’s Dream Blog!

Thankfulness: The Game-Changer

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Some might think it’s easy to be thankful this time of year. There is delicious food, magical sights, holiday parties, days off work. The list goes on. But maybe you don’t have any of that to enjoy. Choose to be thankful anyway. No matter what is going wrong, my guess is you have something or some things going very right. Do you have food and shelter? Those are two big items right there.

Two blessings I’ve been particularly thankful for this year are friends who provide a safe place to grow in my gifting/strengths and their encouragement to pursue my dreams. As Walt Disney said, “All of our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” You will be reading more about that in an upcoming post. For now, a special thanks to Matt and Blair for their leadership and business expertise. Thanks, too, to Ray, who has helped me get free from some limiting beliefs so that I am freer than ever to go after my dreams and to help you with yours!

What do you have to be thankful for?

Thankfulness is a game-changer. Writing down what you are thankful for is particularly powerful. My outlook changes dramatically when I do that. Give it a try!

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My Parents and Me

Here is my list of things I am thankful for, related to my dreams, along with some questions to get you thinking:

1. My God, my friend - Have you made Him your friend?

2. My parents - What things have your parents done for you that you take for granted?

3. My extended family and close friends - Who do you allow in your inner circle? Why?

4. My pastors and mentors - Who can provide you with unbiased counsel and opinions?

5. My elder and younger friends - Who can you take lessons from and to whom can you show the way? Also, keep in mind, people are watching you. Have you asked them what they see? Don’t assume.

6. My buddies and female friends - Who is helping you become a better man or lady?

7. My longtime friends and new friends - I'm living in an environment that attracts people from all over the world. Interacting with different cultures makes me come alive unlike anything else. What’s more, no matter where I go from here, I’ll always have friends all over the world. How cool is that?! Who is someone you should befriend? At the same time, few things are better than striking up a conversation with an old friend. Which old friend have you called lately?

8. Doubters - We all have had people say there’s no way we would succeed with something, only to prove them wrong. Who is a doubter you have disproved?

9. People who have made mistakes - I’m a firm believer that you can learn something from everyone. That may mean that you do what they didn’t do or vice versa. Of course, you may fall into this category at one time or another. That’s OK. Let someone take a positive away from your negative.

10. Freedom - I am thankful to live in the USA. What’s more, lately I have experienced new-found freedom - freedom to be fully me, freedom to take more risks, freedom to not have all the answers along the way, freedom to try new things - What freedoms are you thankful for? What freedoms do you take for granted?

At this point, I think you get the idea. It takes other people to make a dream a reality. Who did I forget on my list? What does yours look like?  Have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Thank you, Sam’s Dream Blog readers!

John ZuHone: The Sky's The Limit

John ZuHone is an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.  This week, on Sam’s Dream Blog, John shares about realizing a childhood dream, pushing through doubt and endurance on the dream journey.

Sam's Dream Blog: What's your professional dream? How did your dream originate?  How has it evolved?

John  ZuHone: My professional dream was to do something with outer space. I think it started when I was a child. I loved to read, so my family bought me books on all kinds of subjects. One book (which I still have!) was on the planets. I was hooked. I begged for a telescope, and at age six, I got one. We lived out in the middle of nowhere, so it was easy for me to see the night sky.

For the longest time I said I was going to be an astronaut (most kids do at some point). As the years went on, I found myself most interested by the science behind what was going on beyond our planet. Eventually, I decided that I would become an astrophysicist. I also enjoyed computers growing up. Little did I know that they would become an essential part of my job--running computer simulations of what's going on in the universe.

SDB: What accomplishment are you most proud of?

John  ZuHone: I am mainly a theoretician, in other words, someone who thinks about how the universe works and formulates theories to explain what we see. However, very soon I will have the opportunity to use the Chandra X-ray Observatory, an X-ray telescope orbiting the earth, to observe a cluster of galaxies. It is kind of hard for me to believe sometimes that I get the privilege of using a real observatory that is sitting out in space to do real science.

SDB: What have been the biggest obstacles or challenges to realizing your dream?  What advice do you have for others in pursuit of their dreams?

John ZuHone: Often, the biggest obstacle has been myself. Self-doubt, the idea that I couldn't hack it, that it was foolish for me to keep going because I wasn't cut out for it--those were things I had to overcome. Gaining the confidence that I was truly able to achieve the goals I had set out for myself, with the support structure that my family, friends, and faith gives me, is what got me to where I am.

To anyone who is pursuing their own dream, I have the following bits of advice:

* Know the difference between giving up (which you don't want to do) and realizing that your goals may have shifted from where you thought they were originally. As you move forward, you may find that other things inspire you, that you are interested in other things than what you had set out originally. That's not a sign of failure. It just means you have moved on to something else. And that can be exciting.

* Other people are important. No one ever gets anywhere in life without help from someone else. This includes your family and your friends, but also people you meet along the way. You never know how the connections you make with others will benefit you down the road. And the way you show gratitude for that is by paying it forward--someday you will get a chance to give someone else a leg up when they need it. It's also very humbling--knowing that making the world run, working for things like justice and knowledge and beauty and everything else that's good, takes teamwork. We're all in it together.

SDB: What steps have you taken to get to where you are presently?

John  ZuHone: First, it was lots of school. 10 years, in fact, counting both college and graduate school. That's how long it takes (give or take a year or two) to get a Ph.D.. After that, you spend time building your research career, doing what we call "postdoctoral research." I'm currently nearing the end of that part of my career, transitioning into something more permanent. But a lot of the education that you need to excel in this area, as in many, is self-taught and self-sought. The classroom is very important, but some of the most important things you will ever learn are not taught in the classroom. You only learn by doing them, and usually doing them wrong a few times before getting it right. In that sense, I am still learning.

Thanks for stopping by Sam’s Dream Blog!  Learn more about John ZuHone's work here

Andrew Skurka: All about Dreams, Adventures and Challenges

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Andrew Skurka is an adventurer and guide, best-known for his solo long-distance backpacking trips. In total, he has backpacked, skied, and packrafted 30,000+ miles through many of the world’s most prized backcountry and wilderness areas.This week, on Sam’s Dream Blog, Andrew shares about his dream journey, including the preparation and endurance required.

Sam's Dream Blog: What’s your professional dream? How did your dream originate?  How has it evolved?

Andrew Skurka: My backpacking dreams evolve every few years. Early on, I wanted to hike as many long trails as I could, and to do it fast and light. Now, I'm more interested in shorter, more intense trips that are largely off-trail. This shift is directly related to my learning, or lack thereof. When I'm not being challenged by what I'm doing, I change it up.

SDB: What makes you most proud of your long distance hiking feats?

Andrew Skurka: I'm most proud of how smoothly most of my trips go. I attribute this to extensive pre-trip research and planning, which ensures that my plan is feasible and that I'm as prepared for it as possible. If I've put in the time beforehand, there are fewer unexpected events.

SDB: What have been the biggest obstacles or challenges to realizing your dreams?  

Andrew Skurka: The biggest obstacle to my dreams was the unconventional lifestyle that I had to live. I don't have a conventional job, and for a long time did not live like a normal adult: no permanent address, little income, no long-term relationships, etc.

SDB: What advice do you have for others in pursuit of their dreams?

Andrew Skurka: There are few substitutes for hard work and persistence.

Thanks for stopping by Sam’s Dream Blog!  Learn more about Andrew Skurka here

Soaring Toward Dreams with Brandon Cultra

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Brandon Cultra is a captain for Republic Airlines, a regional service for American, United and Delta.  This week on Sam’s Dream Blog, Brandon shares about achieving long-awaited dreams, the patience required and why the wait is worth it.

Sam's Dream Blog: What’s your professional dream? How did your dream originate? How has it evolved?

Brandon Cultra: Based in Columbus, Ohio for the last seven years, I have been building valuable experience. With that said, my professional dream is to fly for American Airlines. And if you want me to be very specific, I want to be based in Miami flying the 757. This would allow me to fly both international and domestic flights, and migrate south of the freezing midwest.

My dream originated when I was about four years old from my dad.  He has always had a fascination with flying, and that has been imparted to me. Almost since I could walk, I was learning to fly radio control airplanes with my dad. When I started flying, I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into. The airlines were a mystery, and I just knew that I wanted to fly airplanes. Now after eight years of airline experience I know exactly who, where, and what I want to fly.

SDB: What accomplishment are you most proud of?

Brandon Cultra: Recently I upgraded from First Officer to Captain. It took eight years for me to have this opportunity, due to forces beyond my control, governing the industry.  Most people know that there are two pilots up front in the cockpit. They both are well trained and fully capable of flying the airplane. However, the bulk of the responsibility falls on the captain. He has the final say when it comes to the safety of the flight, and he is the first one people turn to when there is a problem. I am so proud to finally have the privilege of being that person who manages the flight.

SDB: What have been the biggest obstacles or challenges to realizing your dream?

Brandon Cultra: My largest obstacle has been a financial one. Most people think airline pilots make big money, and they would be right when referring to a pilot at United, Delta and American. However, the small regional airlines pay their pilots quite poorly. My first year as an airline pilot I made around sixteen thousand dollars. That was first-year pay, and it did increase over the years as a first officer, but it never exceeded forty thousand a year.

Captains at the regionals do make more. However, it takes about 15 years of service to break the six figure mark, which brings me back to the forces beyond my control. The FAA raised the mandatory retirement age of airline pilots from 60 to 65 years old. This is why I was stuck as a regional First Officer for as long as I was. In years past, people upgraded to Captain in two years or less. Now that the older pilots are starting to retire, the whole industry is back to normal progression. Unlucky timing for me caused the long career stagnation.

SDB: What advice do you have for others in pursuit of their dreams?

Brandon Cultra: For a total of 10 years I waited patiently to advance my career and to finally make a decent wage. I am not looking for sympathy; I was doing what I love to do. Having patience to see my dream out has been extremely difficult.  So, my advice to those in the pursuit of their dream is to never give up! Despite the long years of waiting, the future looks bright and I cannot wait to finally realize my dream!

Thanks for reading!  Tell me about a dream you are pursuing below in the comments!

Jessica Watson on Sailing Toward Your Dreams

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At age 16, Jessica Watson became the youngest person ever to sail solo and unassisted around the world.  This week on Sam’s Dream Blog, Jessica shares about braving new territory, the importance of a team in your dream pursuits and about overcoming adversity.

Sam's Dream Blog: What’s your dream for sailing? How did your dream originate?  How has it evolved?

Jessica Watson: My family sailed when I was young, but it wasn’t till I was 11 that I dreamt of sailing around the world. I was fascinated by the ocean and wanted to prove what young girls are capable of. These days I love sailing more and more and dream of inspiring more people to give sailing a try.

SDB: What makes you most proud of being the youngest person ever to sail solo and unassisted around the world?

Jessica Watson: Great question. It was a solo voyage around the world, but it took a whole team of people to get safely to the start line. I’m proud of the hard work from all of my team. I’m also proud of how I managed the mental side of the voyage.  There were times when I was scared and upset, but most of the time I stayed positive.

SDB: What have been the biggest obstacles or challenges to realizing your dreams?  What advice do you have for others in pursuit of their dreams?

Jessica Watson: At first finding the support and funding I needed was hard.  Then I actually hit a huge ship just before I set off on the voyage. That was a big setback, but I learned so much from the incident, and it made me stronger.  There are lots of things I could say about the determination and persistence it takes to achieve your dreams, but I think the most important part is to take the first step and have the courage to chase your dreams.

Thanks for stopping by Sam’s Dream Blog!  Learn more about more about Jessica Watson here

Gainlight Studios' Derek Oddo Shares His Dream Journey

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Derek Oddo is the CEO and owner of Gainlight Studios branding company.

This week on Sam’s Dream Blog, Derek shares about the evolution of dreams, how to adjust to surprises and how to make your dreams happen.

Sam’s Dream Blog: What’s your professional dream? How did your dream originate?

Derek Oddo: My professional dream has always been to run a successful business that provides for my family and others.

This dream likely originated as a child. I grew up in a large family with four other siblings where there was no such thing as an allowance. Any discretionary money for baseball cards, video games and other items had to come in large part from money I could scrounge together. I mowed lawns and cleared driveways from a young age. I helped neighbors with tasks they did not want to do, all the while collecting any money I could to buy the same things my friends had. That is not to say my parents did not help, they most certainly did when they were able; it was merely a requirement for me to contribute financially if I truly wanted something.

SDB: What accomplishment are you most proud of?

Derek Oddo: The things that give me the greatest satisfaction are old interns who reach out years later to let me know how much I impacted their lives. It is seeing a t-shirt I designed years ago still out and about in the community. It is seeing a logo I designed mounted to the side of a building. Everyone, everywhere, inevitably wants to know that they somehow impacted the world. While these may be minor, they serve as pleasant reminders to stay the course and cause you to realize there are things beyond money that make you appreciate what you do daily.

SDB: What have been the biggest obstacles or challenges to realizing your dream? What advice do you have for others in pursuit of their dreams?

Derek Oddo: The biggest challenges I have faced are those related to changing circumstances. I became a business owner because I like knowing the decisions I have made or have not made are impacting my bottom line directly. The realization, though, is that I am at the mercy of a number of factors. And as sure as night and day, life will always be there to throw you curveballs.

The best advice I can give to dreamers like myself is to remain nimble, to remain hungry, and to always move forward. Always seek to improve on something every day.

SDB: What steps have you taken to get to where you are presently?

Derek Oddo: Many, many little steps. The two largest being sacrifice and a willingness to execute. Everyone has dreams. Every single one of us. These are as simple as daydreaming about a new car, to something more complex like trying to impact your family generationally.

The only difference that separates the dreamers from the doers is execution. It’s taking those small, tangible steps in the direction of achieving these dreams, regardless of how crazy those around you might think you are.

Along the way, you will be called to sacrifice. Sometimes, these sacrifices are easy, like skipping a night out with friends to be up early for a meeting with a new client. Other times, they are far greater.

It is too easy today to get caught up in instant gratification. We hope to see immediate results, and sometimes we can realize our dreams quickly. But, for the great dreamers, it often takes years for the seeds we plant to become fruitful. It is why it is important to stay the course.

Thanks for stopping by Sam’s Dream Blog!  Learn more about more about Gainlight Studios here

They Said It: Quotes for Your Dream Journey

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What do you do when you need a spark or fresh perspective on your dream journey? One of the best tools I have found are quotes from people who have had similar questions. Eventually they found their way by staying the course, and you can too!

"It may be that those who do most, dream most." – Stephen Leacock

"If you can dream it, you can do it.” – Walt Disney

“The problems of the world cannot possibly be solved by skeptics or cynics whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities. We need men who can dream of things that never were and ask "why not?" – JFK

"You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream." - C. S. Lewis

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." – Mark Twain