“… Don’t be afraid, if you are afraid, you cannot move forward” – Malala Yousafzai.
The Thief of Dreams
A pilot never approaches a runway he does not intend to take off or land on. Additionally, he does not sit in the cockpit unless he is ready to fly the plane. Similarly, we should approach our dreams with the intention of seeing them become a reality, coupled with the readiness to move in the direction of that dream. Dreams are not static. They prompt action and initiate movement. Do you recall the definition of a dream according to Dr. John Maxwell from last week? In case you need a reminder, a dream is “an inspiring picture of the future that energizes your mind, will, and emotions, empowering you to do everything you can to achieve it.”
If that is the definition, what makes dreams sit on the runway of life? Why do they lie in the attic of our minds and hearts collecting dust with every passing year?
The Number One Suspect
The biggest culprit that sabotages our dreams is fear. It is the thief of dreams. By robbing us of mental acuity and emotional agility, fear locks our lives into a loop that sees all the obstacles making our dream impossible.
Convinced that our dreams are a figment of our imagination and unachievable, we acquiesce to the voice of fear. We mentally and emotionally combust and settle for life beneath our God-given potential. Due to fear, our dreams die on the vine. Stanching fear’s influence over our dreams begins with taking the right next step in the face of fear. And it is what the youngest Nobel Peace prize laureate did.
Driven by a Dream
After Taliban forces put a stop to educating girls in her village in Pakistan, young Malala Yousafzai refused to back down. Believing education is a basic right, she spoke out on the terrors of the Taliban, even at great risk to her life, which included an unsuccessful assassination attempt. But Malala pressed on. Intimidation from the Taliban did not stop her from moving in the direction of what she believed. As the world got wind of Malala’s courage and resolve, people rallied around her to help her dream become a reality.
Malala’s positive action teaches us that when we approach life with intention and commit to acting on our dreams, even fear, as powerful and intimidating as it is, must fall.
Locus of Control
When it comes to approach and action, our focus starts with what we can control. We are in control of our attitudes, outlook, and responses. The weather, the current pandemic, traffic, and other people’s actions fall outside our locus of control. Knowing what we can control opens the door to make greater strides towards our dream as opposed to wasting energy on what we cannot control.
Flame the Dream
Malala had no control over the actions of the Taliban and the fear they spread around her village. It was intoxicating to live under the constant threat the Taliban presented with intimidation and retaliation for anyone who defied their orders. But she had control of her response. And she responded according to the belief that education is a fundamental right. What beliefs affirm your dream?
She also had control of her outlook. The Taliban were hoping to diminish the villagers’ view of the future with fear. Malala’s dream did not turn to smoke and ashes when the Taliban burned down her school. It was intensified and her actions served as evidence. Malala could have made excuses and no one would have blamed her. But she dug in her heels. Aided by her father (a reminder that a dream needs a team), who she calls her inspiration, she started the Malala Fund, “a charity dedicated to giving every girl an opportunity to achieve a future she chooses.” She said, “It was then (after the attempted assassination) I knew I had a choice: I could live a quiet life, or I could make the most of this new life I had been given. I determined to continue my fight until every girl could go to school.”
Malala held sway over her attitude. According to former coach Lou Holtz, “Ability is what you are capable of doing, motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.” Malala maintained a positive attitude. Monitoring your attitude is both a challenging and a rewarding experience. When we approach life with a positive attitude, we remain committed to our dreams. We see them as worth pursuing when obstacles arise and fear attempts to shrink our resolve.
Final Thought: A dream, sabotaged by fear, is not a fait accompli. If fear has become the first choice in your mental drop-down menu and turned your dream tepid, there is only one approach to change it all. No matter how small, take the next right step in the face of fear. Remember, you are in control of your response, outlook, and attitude. Are you ready to take off in the direction of your dream?
Keep on keeping on!