Fifty years ago today on August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr., stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and delivered what would become one of the most remarkable speeches ever delivered—and one of the most memorable. It was a defining moment of the American Civil Rights Movement.
Today, fifty years later, I ask you: Do you have a dream? How many people have asked you lately if you do – and have taken the time to listen to the dream you have?
Let’s break this down into two parts:
First, before you can share your dream with others – whether one-on-one with an individual or with the masses like Martin Luther King, Jr., did fifty years ago, you have to have a dream.
In the lighthearted movie, Pretty Woman, a man on the street starts and ends the film walking down the street asking, “Welcome to Hollywood…What’s your dream?” and says, “Everybody that comes to Hollywood got a dream!” He then says, “Some dreams come true; some don’t. But keep on dreaming.”
The fact is: your dream can’t come true—until you have one.
So again, on this 50th anniversary of when Martin Luther King, Jr., expressed his dream by saying, “I have a dream…”, I ask you: What’s your dream?
Dubbed “The Dream Maker” by clients of mine, I ask this question when people come to me with their creative ideas for books and Hollywood projects.
This leads to the second part—and that is whether you listen to the dreams of others when they find and muster up the courage to express theirs. Who has listened to your dreams? Anyone?
Who have you been willing to tell?
Oftentimes when we express ourselves, the listener whom we’re talking to doesn’t realize how difficult it may feel to talk about your dreams.
You may be like some who feel that if you start talking about it, one of two things will occur:
1) You’ll be told it’s silly, feel judged by others, and be told it’s not a dream; it’s a foolish idea
2) You’ll be encouraged and create an expectation in others that you’re going to do it, possibly fearing that once you have divulged your dream, people will ask you why you’re not pursuing it.
For those who fear being put down if they share their dreams, this is a sad reality. There will be some who may attempt to put the kabbash on your dreams, shut them and you down, and even others who may do everything in their power to keep you from it.
James Earl Ray tried to keep Martin Luther King, Jr., from his dream, killing him on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee. He may have killed the man, but he wasn’t able to kill the dream, one that so many applauded and also wanted to see manifest. Not even his death could extinguish his dream.
It is not up to others to squash your dreams. That choice is up to you.
Only you can allow someone to take your dreams from you.
No matter what your situation, circumstances or condition are, you have the right to dream; you have what it takes to follow that dream; and you have the opportunity every day to connect with your dreams and do one thing – just one thing – to get you closer to it.
In the musical version of Dale Wasserman’s Man of La Mancha, inspired by Miguel de Cervantes’s seventeenth century masterpiece, Don Quixote, the lead character Don Quixote sings about dreaming the impossible dream. He sings,
“That is my quest, to follow that star,
No matter how hopeless, no matter how far,
To fight for the right, without question or pause,
To be willing to march into Hell, for a Heavenly cause…”
So it’s time for your own defining moment, and I ask you one more time on this poignant day, “What’s your dream???”
No matter what age you are, no matter what has happened to you or what you have experienced in your life, everyone has the right to dream.
I encourage you to dream BIG and to share your dreams with as many people as you can.
If you are a parent, ask your children what their dreams are. Teach them that dreaming of what you desire and the life you want to live is a good thing. Share your dreams with them. Celebrate all of your dreams, those you have realized and those you are still pursuing. Be a good listener for others when they have the courage to share their dreams with you. And then ask the simple question: what can I do to help you make that dream come true?
You can do it!
And you have the right to remain fabulous!