Dream AND Do

James Clear has written some excellent articles and his recent one in Entrepreneur on persistence has a valuable perspective which you should read. He writes:

“How do creative geniuses come up with great ideas? They work and edit and rewrite and retry and pull out their genius through sheer force of will and perseverance. They earn the chance to be lucky because they keep showing up.”

James Clear uses the example of Markus Zusak, an author who rewrote his book hundreds of times to eventually publish what became a bestseller.

In an interview after his book was finally released, Zusak said,

“In three years, I must have failed over a thousand times, but each failure brought me closer to what I needed to write, and for that, I’m grateful.”

James also shares a quote from TV writer Shonda Rhimes who recommends a career strategy in her Dartmouth Commencement Address.

“Dreams do not come true just because you dream them. It’s hard work that makes things happen. It’s hard work that creates change…

Ditch the dream and be a doer, not a dreamer. Maybe you know exactly what it is you dream of being, or maybe you’re paralyzed because you have no idea what your passion is. The truth is, it doesn’t matter. You don’t have to know. You just have to keep moving forward. You just have to keep doing something, seizing the next opportunity, staying open to trying something new. It doesn’t have to fit your vision of the perfect job or the perfect life. Perfect is boring and dreams are not real. Just … do.”

Shonda rightly emphasizes the importance of doing because the Knowing Doing Gap is a huge problem, but I think she introduces a false dichotomy by suggesting you ditch your dreams as if dreaming and doing have to be mutually exclusive. Dreams are important and are needed to drive the doing. It is also extremely inefficient to just do and not have any idea what your dreams are. You should at least develop a theory that you can test out and move on if you need to revise it. Just don’t hold back your doing and experimenting waiting to be perfectly sure of your dreams. Doing helps determine how your dreams should evolve and what new dreams need to be created. Dreams can become real even if they themselves are revised many times to develop better dreams.

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