“Man has a dream, and that’s the start. He follows his dream with mind and heart. And when it becomes a reality, it’s a dream come true for you and me” – Richard Sherman and Robert Sherman, “Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow”
Dreamers can drive you crazy sometimes with their perky dispositions, their endless energy, and their glass half-full attitude. If you have someone in your life—a friend, a family member, or a spouse—who always seems to have their head in the clouds, convincing them to put pragmatism before pink, fluffy positivity can seem as possible as moving a mountain with telekinesis. The truth is that some of the world’s most celebrated individuals—from inventors like Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell to leaders of change like Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi—were dreamers and they devoted their lives to achieving those dreams, whether inventing electric light or establishing world peace. Despite their quirks, dreamers make our world a brighter, more convenient, and much more entertaining place. Here are fifteen things to keep in mind if your loved one is a dreamer.
1. They have endless imagination
If you’ve ever been to Walt Disney World, you’ve probably ridden the Carousel of Progress, which first debuted at the New York World’s Fare in 1964. Celebrating some of the greatest inventions of the late 19th and 20th centuries like electric light, the phonograph, in-door plumbing, and television; the ride takes us on a journey through the 20th century with an American family, watching as technology transforms their lives. In addition to showcasing the work of inventors like Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, the Carousel of Progress encapsulates Walt Disney’s belief in the immortality of the American Dream. Beyond being a fantasy land where animals talk and you can get your picture taken with a gigantic mouse, Disney World is a celebration of imagination. A simple sketch of a talking mouse and an idea in a man’s brain turned into a global enterprise that has brought joy to millions all over the world. Encourage imagination in your loved ones, especially your children—Their crayon drawings might give us the world’s next Mickey Mouse.
2. They don’t do well with deadlines
Dreamers are very often creative visionaries—painters, sculptors, or poets. They move when the muses motivate them, not according to a fixed schedule. It took Michelangelo four years to paint the now-famous frescos in the Sistine Chapel, and when Pope Julius (who’d commissioned the work) asked when Michelangelo would finish, the artist replied, “When I can.” The wait was well worth it of course, because the frescos have held up reasonably well over the centuries. Maybe Michelangelo found painting in a cramped position on a scaffold extremely uncomfortable? Maybe he just liked pushing the Pope’s buttons. Whatever the reason, remember that bringing a dream to fruition takes time. If your friend’s business is taking a while to get off the ground, or your cousin seems like he’s never going to finish his Ph.D., think of the Sistine Chapel.Advertising
3. They’re not the most economical people on the planet
Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer (1632 to 1675) was another dreamer who didn’t do well with deadlines, much to the irritation of his family. Extremely meticulous and detail-oriented, Vermeer produced only two or three paintings a year, which made supporting his wife and eleven children a bit of a challenge. Vermeer died in debt in 1675 at the age of 43 but remains a celebrated artist, famous for works like “The Girl with a Pearl Earring,” which inspired a historical novel by Tracy Chevalier and a film starring Scarlett Johansson and Colin Firth. You might do well to remind the dreamer in your life that dreams alone won’t pay the bills, but dreamers usually aren’t in it for the money.
4. They sometimes have tunnel vision
Returning to Michelangelo, he first rejected the Sistine Chapel commission, insisting that he was a sculptor and not a painter. Had he not eventually accepted the job we might never have had the pleasure of viewing his beautifully-painted frescos, and the Sistine Chapel’s attraction might have been less prominent. Sometimes dreamers become so focused on a single project or talent that they don’t realize how much further they can cultivate their skills. Maybe your brother is struggling to land that dream writing job, but also happens to be a wiz in the kitchen. Your insistence that he should consider working in the culinary arts probably goes in one ear and out the other, but don’t give up. When he eventually listens, he might be the next Gordon Ramsey.
5. They’re relentlessly positive
Thomas Edison is famously credited for having once said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” That was the kind of ruthless endurance and belief in finding a solution that gave us the electric lightbulb. Remember when you were a kid learning to ride a bicycle? Whenever you lost your balance, fell, and scraped your knees, you got back on the bike and tried again until you could race up and down the sidewalks without even holding onto the handlebars. This is the dreamer’s approach to everything. As exhausting as this energetic go-getter attitude might seem it gets the job done—and dreamers believe whole-heartedly in what they’re setting out to achieve. Even when it seems like they’re going to fail encourage them, because when you mock a dreamer’s dreams you mock the dreamer.
6. They can be a bit absent-minded
Maybe the dreamer in your life is constantly misplacing her keys or her cellphone? Maybe they’re always late or forget your birthday. They can’t help it! When dreamers are looking up, building castles in the air and losing their head in the clouds, they sometimes forget to pay attention to what’s going on in the “real world.” If you’re the pragmatic one in the relationship, it’s okay now and then to grab hold of their ankles and pull them down to earth whenever they’re flying too high.Advertising
7. They’re a bit eccentric
Is your little dreamer a bit like “The Big Bang Theory’s” Sheldon Cooper? Does he insist on sitting in the same spot, having his hot beverages heated to precisely the correct temperature, or following a strict meal and bathroom schedule? It sounds OCD (and it totally is), but the truth is that dreamers who are often creative geniuses do this for a reason. When they can fall back on routine it frees their minds up to focus on whatever personal project they’re completing, whether it’s a book, a scientific experiment, or a self-driving car. Just humor them and accept that it’s their way of creating balance to ground them when their head space gets too chaotic.
8. They’re goal-oriented
While we’ve talked about the fact that dreamers always seem to have their head in the clouds, this is because they’re always looking up and ahead. Dreamers know what they want in life because they’re great at visualizing. If they want to be a corporate giant on Wall Street, they picture it in their minds. If they want to live in a mansion, they’ve already decorated it in their minds. Observing the way the dreamers in your life plan their futures can teach you a lot about the value of setting goals in a self-motivated life.
9. They know how to make sacrifices
Maybe things can be a bit rough financially sometimes, especially when a dream is just trying its wings. Building from the ground up is never easy, but dreamers have faith that today’s sacrifices will pay off tomorrow, or perhaps the next day. Their rosy-eyed optimism keeps them fueled while they’re living in a studio apartment, surviving on Ramen Noodles and peanut butter and scrounging between the couch cushions for quarters to do their laundry with (I’m looking at you, anyone who’s ever been in grad school). That’s what living the dream really looks like, man. When you get frustrated with a dreamer because they can’t pay the bills, or they haven’t had the money to visit in 3 years, remember that they’re doing the best they can.
10. They’re healthier
As we’ve talked about, dreamers are optimists, and studies have shown that optimists are not only psychologically happier, but physically healthier, recovering more quickly from illnesses and surgery. So don’t gripe about your dreamer’s cheery disposition; put on a happy face and smile with them. You just might add a few years to your life.Advertising
11. They can be unrealistic
Of course, the caveat in all of this is that sometimes dreamers get carried away. They sometimes think that once they start climbing the ladder of success, that it’s just a straight-to-the-top trajectory, but the truth is there’s no such thing as a completely happy ending. Remember what happened to Icarus when he flew too close to the sun? The downside to flying high on the wings of hope is that when things don’t work out, the higher you’ve flown, the harder you fall. This is when you need to step in, help them up, and remind a dreamer that nothing worth having comes without risk or pain.
12. They know they can be a burden sometimes
While dreamers know how to make sacrifices for themselves, they also recognize that others—parents, friends, spouses—make sacrifices for them as well, very often involving money. When they cling tenaciously to a dream that seems destined not to come true, applying for job after job, making move after move with no success, they’re not clueless. They’re frustrated and afraid they won’t make it work. They know how much love, support, and financial investment you’ve put into helping them, and they fear letting you down almost as much as, if not more than they fear letting themselves down. From their perspective, the best way they can pay you back is to prove to you that they can do it.
13. They let you stand on their shoulders
Sir Isaac Newton once said, “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” Whenever I come across this quotation I think of my immigrant grandparents. My grandparents and great grandparents came to America from Italy not for themselves, but for their children and their children’s children. Both my brother and I, as well as our parents, are fortunate enough to have earned graduate degrees. When my brother and I graduated our father reminded us never to forget our roots. The dreams we’re living today would be impossible without the hands of the bricklayers, tailors, and seamstresses in our family who molded and stitched together a path for future generations.
14. They’re always on the move
According to Neal Samudre, one of the best things about being in a relationship with a dreamer is that they take you on a life-long adventure. Dreamers aren’t content to sit still and let life pass them by. They’re always looking for the next big adventure, whether a white-water rafting vacation or a cross-country move to a city where you won’t know a soul but each other. Without them, you might never have challenged yourself to experience these things, and as scary as it is, the upshot is that you never have to do it alone. The dreamer is in the driver’s seat too in these situations, so you can just enjoy the ride.Advertising
15. They’ll always believe in you
A dreamer will be your biggest fan and loudest cheerleader because they know the simple joy of shaping their dreams and the thrill of seeing them come to fruition. They want you to share in that joy and experience that same self-satisfaction, so they’re the perfect ones to have in your corner when you decide to chase your own dreams. If you’ve been there for a dreamer, sometimes the best way you can let them thank you is to let them return the favor.
Featured photo credit: Sky and Clouds via pixabay.com
Last Updated on May 21, 2019
How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship
For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.
If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:
You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.
You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.
In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.
You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.
People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.
You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.
You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.
The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.
You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.
Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.
If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.
Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:
- Understand your own communication style
- Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
- Communicate with precision and care
- Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger
1. Understand Your Communication Style
To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.
In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.
Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.
2. Learn Others Communication Styles
Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.
If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:
“How do you prefer to receive information?”
This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.
To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.
3. Exercise Precision and Care
A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.
On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.
Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.
I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.
I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.
In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.
The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.
Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.
4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger
Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.
In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,
“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”
Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.
Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.
It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.
It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.
It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.
Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.
Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.
The Bottom Line
When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.
I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.
More Articles About Effective Communication
- Conflict Management Styles for Effective Communication at Work
- 13 Best Communication Books for Stronger Social Skills & Relationships
- How to Master Effective Communication Skills at Work and Home
- 7 Most Important Communication Techniques to Master in the Workplace
Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com
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