The Power of Dreaming

September 19, 2005

During my travels, an inspiring story about the power of dreams was shared with me by Marcia Wieder, America’s Dream Coach. I met Marcia at her home in Tiberon, California, overlooking San Francisco Bay. As we sat on her patio on a bright summer afternoon, she told me the story of what transpired on the chilling day of September 11, 2001; a day that everyone remembers.

I was supposed to be doing a workshop on dreams to a group of executives in the sunglass industry. Of course everyone was preoccupied with the events unfolding on the television, so I proposed three options to the group. One was to do nothing, and just cancel the workshop. The second was to have a discussion on something completely different. Or, they could move forward with the conversation on dreams in spite of the horrible events. They agreed to stay on course with the original plan. And with the horrible events unfolding in the background, we talked about dreams, passion and living incredible lives. It was one of the most profound experiences of my life. Before the workshop got started, my voice was weak. I felt powerless and had no energy. As the workshop got under way and people started defining their dreams, the energy increased and passion flowed in the room. Everyone in the room was tapping into something very powerful. Everyone felt alive.

Marcia’s story is a powerful demonstration of how dreaming gives us energy. Focusing on dreams and keeping them front and center helps bring alive passion, in spite of the reality around us. Unfortunately, as we get older, we lose our dreams. We become mature and responsible. We focus on what we think we should be doing. We get “real” jobs. Goals replace our dreams. And then when we are old, grey, in a wheelchair, and feeble, we reflect back on what could have been. We wonder how it slipped away and wonder why we didn’t do something about it when we were younger and had the energy. Take the time to dream…now.

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Final Thoughts — Post #5

September 16, 2005

Here’s another final reflection heard by Professor Tony Komaroff (M.D.), Professor at Harvard Medical School.

She was born and raised in Jamaica, had a 5th grade education, and earned a living as a seamstress. When her daughter first brought her to my office in 1972, she was 52, and I was the first doctor she had ever seen. Eventually, she lost her terror of me, began to ask about my family, and she became quite free with advice. For example, early in our relationship, her daughter took her on Boston’s Duck Tour. When she learned I’d never been on it, she instructed: “Take your wife.”

In December 2000, nearly 30 years after she first came to my office, she had a heart attack. I returned to town from a trip, and learned she was in the Intensive Care Unit. I went to her bedside and called her name. No response. Then I put my hand on her shoulder. She opened her eyes, smiled and whispered: “Don’t forget the Duck Tour.” Those were her last words.

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Final Thoughts — Post #4

September 15, 2005

Here’s another final reflection heard by Professor Tony Komaroff (M.D.), Professor at Harvard Medical School.

A 65 man, with end stage lung cancer, leaving the hospital to spend his last days at home. We pushed him in a wheelchair to the front door of the hospital where his family was waiting in the car, their faces lined with pain. As they opened the car door, the family dachshund bolted out of the car and jumped into the man’s lap, tail wagging furiously. The man turned to me and said: “Reminds me of that prayer. ‘Lord, help me to become the man…my dog thinks I am.’”

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Whose Goal is it Anyway?

September 14, 2005

One of the problems with goals is that they are often not your own. According to our Goalaholic survey, nearly 50% of the population believes that they are living their lives in a way that satisfies others (friends, family, co-workers) more than it satisfies them.

And sometimes parents are to blame. Most parents only want the best for their children. They want them to have what they didn’t. And they believe that they know what is best for their them. But sometimes striving for your children to have the best only stops them from achieving greatness in their own way.

A powerful illustration of this point is a video clip from the award wining film “Who the Hell is Bobby Roos?.” This movie is based on the life of Roger Kabler who is an actor, leading celebrity impressionist, and former star of NBC’s “Rhythm and Blues”. This is the story of a man who could be anything…but himself. In this scene, Bobby Roos (played by Roger Kabler) confronts his father (played by his real father) about the pressures of achieving his goals. This interaction is completely improvised…and real.

Click here to view the PG version (2 minutes)

Click here to view the R-rated version (3 minutes — very strong language)

P.S. Although this in the “fun” blog category, I find this to be anything but…

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Final Thoughts — Post #3

September 13, 2005

Here’s another final reflection heard by Professor Tony Komaroff (M.D.), Professor at Harvard Medical School.

She was woman in her 70’s dying from colon cancer. “We remember the past so much better than the present. They say it’s aging but I don’t think it’s that simple. I think it’s because when you’re young, everything is new. You’re always living in the present. When you’re living life like that, regardless of your age, you burn those memories deep into your brain.”

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Final Thoughts — Post #2

September 12, 2005

Here’s another final reflection heard by Professor Tony Komaroff (M.D.), Professor at Harvard Medical School.

A man in his 80’s. He never married, had no family, and never seemed lonely. He was a performing artist who made a lot of money, spent a lot of time in Vegas, and died poor. When asked how he had spent all the money he’d made he replied: “I spent a lot on dames, and a lot at the tables and at the track. The rest I foolishly squandered.”

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Final Thoughts — Post #1

September 9, 2005

I recently met Professor Tony Komaroff (M.D.), a Professor at Harvard Medical School. In his profession as a medical doctor, he’s heard the last words and final thoughts of many individuals. Over the next week, I will post some of the reflections he’s heard. Here’s the first one…

A 70 year old woman with breast cancer said, “I was so disappointed when my daughter didn’t get in to Radcliffe. The worst thing about it was that she must have sensed my disappointment and felt terrible. I realize now that I was imposing the dreams I had for myself on to her. Neither of us got into Radcliffe, and we both had a life full of love, accomplishment and happiness, thank you very much. And compared to 99% of the other women in this world, we lived a life of privilege and security. Why does regret come so much more easily than gratitude?”

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What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?

September 7, 2005

Paula Poundstone, the great comedian, has a hilarious perspective on adults trying to figure out what they want to be when they grow up. This fits nicely with the Goal-Free Living concept

Click here to view the 45 second video from her HBO special.

Be sure to check out Paula’s website, PaulaPoundstone.com

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Unpredictable Trajectories

September 6, 2005

This past weekend I attended a conference with 400 other individuals. Over the course of 5 days, I was part of dozens of discussions around a wide range of topics. One panel discussion included several very high powered people from business, television broadcasting, aeronautics, technology, and philanthropy. Listening to the stories of these extraordinary people, I was struck how their most interesting stories were the ones that arose out of unpredictable circumstances. I asked the panel, “In your life, what has played a more important role: plans and goals, or unpredictability and spontaneity?”

Those who answered agreed that the latter, spontaneity, played a larger role in creating their greatest breakthroughs, successes, or fun experiences. One panelist said, “Goals are limiting. We are trying to define a target before we even have all of the data. The problem with goals is that you convince yourself that you know how to get from point A to point B. Even if it proves to be true, which often it isn’t, the really exciting things in life occur when you go from point A to anywhere other than point B. I prefer to participate in endeavors with an unpredictable trajectory.”

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