Just over half a century ago, a young, idealistic African-American activist delivered what still remains one of the most remarkable speeches to date. The words “I have a dream” evoke feelings of hope, justice and possibilities.
Dreams. That’s not such a common concept in this part of the world. It seems so far away, so unrealistic. I mean, how can a young person think about dreams in an environment that seems doggedly determined to stifle every move towards a better future? How can that bright young lady realize her dream of being the youngest professor her nation has ever known when ASUU and the FG can’t stop fighting? How can that enterprising young man pursue his vision of being the next Mark Zuckerberg when he can barely afford a ‘third-hand’ laptop? How will that aspiring entrepreneur ever dismantle Ashish Thakkar’s record of being the youngest African billionaire (in USD, before he turned 30) when no one seems willing to support his ideas with much needed startup capital?
So many questions- how? when? where?
As a young person also living in this unique environment, I cannot deny that these are real, legitimate questions. And they deserve real answers. How on earth do you keep your dream alive in this seemingly hostile environment called naija? How do you avoid joining the millions whose dreams have been choked, drowned, frustrated, stabbed, trampled, starved or simply shot to death by this aggressive socio-economic climate?
Where can we find the answers to these itching questions? Allow me to share my discoveries with you. I found my answers in an old book. Yes, you guessed right- I’m talking about the bible.
Waoh, waoh waoh (holding my arms up), before you toss this aside as being just another ‘one of those things’. Think about it for a minute: who else could know better about dreams than the one who dreamed you up in the first place? Think about it for just a sec. Would He have something to say about keeping dreams alive- even in naija? What are His prescribed steps?
#1: Commit your dream to the Lord
“commit your way (dreams) unto the Lord…and He shall bring it to pass” Psalms 37:5
“Commit your works to the LORD, and your thoughts shall be established” Proverbs 16:3
- emotionally and
place your dreams in God’s hands, you make Him an active partner in the business of your life- that’s dream preservation guaranteed!
#2: Never stop thinking about it
“nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do” Gen. 11:6
The bible repeatedly mentions, and science has confirmed that what we most frequently think about has a way of showing up in our lives. I’m not talking about wishful occasional pie-in-the-sky fantasies. I’m talking about those heart-felt thoughts that rule your mental space. Keep your dreams at the front of your mind. See them every day. No matter how ‘far out’ they seem from your present reality, keep your dreams in your conscious thoughts. As you do this consistently, they will become more real to you and the miracle that has happened to countless others will start happening to you too- you’ll see your dominant thoughts becoming realities right before your eyes.
#3: Devour the stories of others that have succeeded in realizing similar dreams
“that you be not slothful (lazy, weak) but followers of them who through faith and patience fulfilled their dreams” Hebrews 6:12 (paraphrased)
We live in a sad age where too many young dreamers are desperately craving the bragging rights to being ‘self-made’. Yes, your dream is unique; but it’s not so new that there’s no example to study and glean wisdom from. For instance, while your dream may be the creation of a new product or service that has never existed, there are countless stories of successful inventors and pioneers of new ideas. Connect with their stories. It may sound cliché but it’s true- if you don’t stay inspired, you may soon expire.
#4: Share your dream- but be selective!
Because our dreams are so personal, we feel them at a deeply intense emotional level that sometimes holds us back from sharing them with others to avoid ridicule or any form of discouragement. But after all said and done, if that dream must become reality, others must help you in the process. And how can they help if they never hear your dream? I know it’s risky because there are so many dream killers out there; but the benefits of sharing trump the false security of keeping it all to yourself. When you share your dream, you subconsciously reinforce it your mind. It graduates from just being an ‘idea in your head’ to something that others can relate with. Spread the word- wisely.
#5: Keep preparing for it
The fastest way to kill your dream is to sit and wait for it to become reality. There may be times when it seems like the resources (especially financial) are far away. That’s not the time to slack back and start feeling sorry for yourself or get angry at people who don’t even know you exist. Keep training yourself, keep asking questions, keep refining, keep researching and as Robert Kiyosaki said, “when the student is ready, the teacher will show up”. When your preparations hit that critical threshold, the other requirements will start falling into place like a pack of cards.
#6: Pursue-even if it’s half step at a time
I love what David Abioye said in one of his books, he said “God will never let you get to the point where there’s ABSOLUTELY NOTHING you can do” (check out 1st Cor. 10:13). There’s always something you can do to move just one step closer to your dream- if you’ll bother to ask God for it. I can’t stress this enough. Many times, we sit back, throw our hands up and conclude that there’s no opportunity, there’s nothing we can do. That’s not true. There IS always something you can do to stay on the path of progress. Don’t allow yourself to stagnate.
No matter how trivial the opportunity seems, determine to make use of it to move forward towards your dream. There’s always a way forward.
Start Local. Think Global.
To your dreams, remain ever true.