Sometimes, at conferences, I share with others the concept of the need to dream possible dreams compared with dreaming impossible dreams. Recently I was asked, “How do we distinguish between possible and impossible dreams?” In answer to this question, I would make two points.

1. There are so many people out there who offer individuals amazing and impossible dreams. I believe they are peddlers of false hopes/dreams. An example of this is the entrepreneur who say, “If you come to my Seminar, I will make you rich!” or “Come to my seminar, and, in three days I will make you a world class sales person.” These are examples of those who promote and profit on the marketing of impossible dreams. If they were possible then we would all be rich or we would all be world class sales persons. They prey on the insecurities of ordinary folk. In Australia, we have a large number of visiting ‘gurus’ who peddle such perpetrations. Australians generally have an aversion towards such.

Such operators usually create an ill conceived and misguided dependency within those who attend these so called ‘life changing’ workshops. This is achieved by what MacDonalds might call ‘up selling’ … that is: “Do you want fries with that?” In other words, “you need not only to attend my seminar, but you need to buy my products to achieve your change”. I remember being invited to a very well known life guru, who was going to change my life in two days. Then the dependency was created by the sale of products which I supposedly had to buy to ensure my life was really changed, and if I bought the materials then, I would save substantially. Such is the ill conceived dependency used often by these purveyors of impossible dreams.

It is worth noting that it is generally held that behavioural change can take up to 28 days – just a few more than these so called gurus offer the participant. When we add to that the research on the impact of professional development that is provided in a one hit wonder. The probable positive, long term outcome of attending such training is extremely limited. How many of us have, in our professional libraries, DVDs, books and copious notes that we have not touched in a long time. If we really want to bring about change, then the concept of coaching, in its purest form, will do more to bring about positive, long lasting change.

2. Then there are the dreams we have, as opposed to those which are created or perpetrated by those peddlers of faulty hopes. I am a believer in having dreams, but I am a believer of and ensuring those dreams are stretch dreams – ones that will take us out of our comfort zone, and push us beyond what we thought might be possible. But the dream needs to be possible. I think I mentioned at a recent conference that, for me to dream that I may be able to walk again, is to dream an impossible dream. When I put my energy into something that is impossible for me to achieve, I waste that energy. It is not to say that science will not progress, and that may happen, but for me to energise that dream is to tilt at the windmills at which Don Quixote tilted.
So, how do we distinguish between possible and impossible dreams? I think the answer lies in dreaming in steps; steps that challenge us. For example, say your dream was to become World Champion of Public Speaking, and you were a beginning toastmaster. Then your stretch dream may be to win at area or division, or even district. This is how I approached my journey to becoming World Champion. I dreamt of winning at club level, then area, and so on.

So choose whatever a challenging step is for you. Once achieved, your dream changes, and consequently continues to challenge you…..but it is still possible. Susan Boyle is a great example of someone who dreamed a possible (albeit stretch dream). At her first appearance, she stated she wanted to be able to sing like Elaine Paige. For her, this was a possible dream, because she had a remarkable voice. For me to dream to sing like Elaine Paige would be an impossible dream. You would realise this if you had heard me sing!!!!