Every artist knows the fear associated with the thought of publishing their work. As long as the book, screenplay, or podcast remains a dream in the artist's mind, it can live forever in all its imagined glory.
You don't have to be an artist to experience this. Anyone with a big dream recognizes what I'm describing: leaders and entrepreneurs, coaches and athletes, kids and adults, husbands and wives.
In the dream, we can frame it, shape it, and live it all out in our minds. It feels so good, so possible, so real.
In the dream, we can envision the incredible impact our work would make, the things it would accomplish, and the celebration it would receive.
I call this the "precious dream."
People will do anything to protect their precious dream and prevent it from crashing into the rocks of reality.
As long as it stays a precious dream - an idea, a plan, a vision for the future - it can't fail. It's safe. It can exist risk-free in your mind, forever protected from anything that might destroy it.
In the arena, the precious dream disappears.
There are only competitive realities, impersonal markets, and the unforgiving laws of the universe. What feels so close and real in the precious dream suddenly feels so far and uncertain in the arena.
To enter the arena is to give your dream a chance. It also introduces the terrifying risk of losing your precious dream. This is the nature of the arena and why so few people are willing to enter it.
In the precious dream, everything works out. You are the director of the dream and the hero of the story. You are skillful, intelligent, courageous, resourceful, and resilient. In the precious dream, your confidence is unassailable. You are convinced. You are compelled.
In the arena, reality quickly replaces the dream. What was obvious now feels unstable. What was compelling now feels questionable. What was confident now feels doubtful.
Do you have precious dreams? Have you ever felt this way?
The tendency to protect our most precious dreams is all too real and all too common. It's easy to hold onto the dream for so long, to grow so familiar and comforted by it, that we are unwilling to let go of the dream and step into the less certain, less comfortable, less confident reality of making it happen.
"What if I'm not good enough? What if people don't like it? What if I totally commit myself and come up short? What if I'm not who I think I am? What if? What if? What if?"
Rather than courageously face the answers to these questions and others, people instead choose to protect their precious dreams from the risk of reality. The dream never happens, but it comforts them to cling to it.
What if you are good enough? What if people do like it? What if you totally commit yourself and learn how to hit the mark? What if you are more than you think you are? What if? What if? What if?
You have a choice to make, and there are only two options. Look inside your heart, not your mind, and choose:
Stay in the precious dream.
Enter the arena.
The clock is ticking.
Answer the call. Do the work.
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Brian Kight is a multi-industry leader on the topics of leadership, culture, and behavior. He provides simple systems that produce exceptional results for organizations, teams, and people.