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Rule 5: Dream the Dreams of Fools

If you read biographies of successful people, they usually had a dream. All too commonly, however, they were told that their dream wasn't practical, or it couldn't be done, or they weren't talented or special enough, or some other negative comment to indicate they were just being foolish.

However, these successful people ignored the naysayers and pursued their dream anyway. As a result, they not only achieved success but often admiration and wonder at their accomplishments. Yet, underlying the admiration are frequent comments about how lucky these successful people were.

But how much did luck have to do with their success? These successful people often had to choose to pursue a dream in the face of much criticism. That takes a great deal of effort. When you are being told repeatedly that something can't be done, you have to have a great deal of fortitude and belief in your dream to pursue it. Maybe the luck was that somewhere along the way they either learned or were taught to ignore these criticisms and to pursue their dreams no matter what others might say.

Dream the dreams of fools When I was young I was often in trouble in school for “daydreaming.” But I didn't quit dreaming. I just became more clever at it. I learned to split my focus so I could continue to dream while following along with the lesson. I learned not to stare out the window but look at my book. I even enjoyed the challenge of knowing the answer when the teacher called on me to catch me not paying attention. I probably developed some important skills from this “game.” However, most importantly, I never quit dreaming and I didn't listened to those who told me something couldn't be done.

A review of the literature indicates that daydreaming provides several benefits including improved problem-solving, ability to develop plans, greater self-insight, ability to delay gratification or wait for reward, and enhanced creative thinking (McMillan et al., 2013; MooneyHam and Schooler, 2013). Researchers speculate on several reasons why mind-wandering can contribute to these benefits:

1) Switching between thoughts.
The ability to switch between streams of information or tasks improves the ability to achieve multiple goals.

2) Development of a new perspective.
Many times people report that when they are struggling with a problem and they change their focus to something else, when they return to the problem they often have a different perspective and are able to solve it more easily. This concept is known as “dishabituation” in psychological terms, which means to respond to an old thought, behavior, or event as if it were new.

3) Relief from boredom.
Mind-wandering can refresh the brain and improve the ability to cope with boring or routine tasks.

Researchers McMillan and colleagues (2013) conclude that “...sometimes behavior that appears 'unintelligent' measured by external standards may actually be quite intelligent as judged by its relevance to achieving personally meaningful goals.” In other words, what could be called “foolish” by others could actually be “smart” when judged according to the goals you want to achieve.

Most dreamers have been called fools at one time or another. Don't let that stop you from dreaming. If you have a dream, don't let the opinions of others prevent you from pursuing your dream. How many dreams haven't been pursued because others have criticized the dreamer or the dream? Sometimes the only difference between success and failure is the willingness to pursue the dream.

Be willing to dream the dreams of fools. Later, those same “fools” are called geniuses, or innovators, or trailblazers.

McMillan, R.L, Kaufman, S.B. And Singer, J.L. (2013). Ode to Positive Constructive Daydreaming. Frontiers in Psychology, 4, 1-9, doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00626.

Mooneyham, B.W. and Schooler, J.W. (2013). The Costs and Benefits of Mind-Wandering: A Review. Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology, 67, 11–18, DOI: 10.1037/a0031569.

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