“Dreams get you into the future and add excitement to the present” — Robert Conklin
It is a tragedy to live below your dreams. Elon Musk would have settled down in a research laboratory for space research but instead launched a company that competes even with National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in projections.
Richard Branson would have been a travelling agent but decided to launch the Virgin Group. The Amazon boss, Jeff Bezos, would have been a general manager in a book-selling shop, but instead launched the biggest online sale space ever. Walt Disney would have died as a cartoonist for a newspaper company but inspired an empire known today as Disneyland.
Bill Gates had a dream where every home would have a personal computer, he visualised computers running in every home and Microsoft Software on every computer long before it ever happened. Steve Job’s big dream was to put the whole computer in a phone, and today, our phone cannot only do what a personal computer can do, but even much more.
Dreaming up the future is the first step towards achieving greatness. The ability to see into the future with the eyes of possibilities and then come back into the present to make it a reality is the strength of entrepreneurs. Michelangelo once said, “The problem with human beings is not that we aim too high and fail; it is that we aim too low and succeed”.
Thomas Watson, the president of IBM in 1943, said, “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” This awful prediction by the seemingly tech-giant of that time is currently dubbed as the worst tech-predictions of all times. At the dawn of the computer industry, nobody really knew where this new technology would take us, but the explosion of desktop computing that put a personal computer in nearly every home across the world within 60 years seems to have eluded the imagination of most superior minds and futurists in that time. Nobody could ever imagine a computer in every home when Bill Gates and Paul Allen where armed with nothing than their big dreams.
Bill Gates once said: “When Paul Allen and I started Microsoft over 30 years ago, we had big dreams about software. We had dreams about the impact it could have. We talked about a computer on every desk and in every home. It’s been amazing to see so much of that dream become a reality and touch so many lives. I never imagined what an incredible and important company would spring from those original ideas.”
Microsoft has actually gone a long way from a small 30-man operation based in Albuquerque into the multinational behemoth it is today. It now employs more than 80,000 people across over 100 hundred countries, and turns billions in profit.
Ken Olsen, founder of Digital Equipment Corporation in 1977 also said: “There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.” Ken Olsen made this quip before the advent of the personal computer (PC) and within four years of Olsen’s remark, the release of the IBM PC had enshrined this prediction in the high-tech hall of shame. Bill Gates, the man that brought a major revolution to the computing world has only one regret! Gates’ biggest regret though, will be failing to translate Microsoft’s dominance of the desktop to the web. As long ago as 1995, Gates wrote a call-to-arms to his employees, entitled “The internet tidal wave”, which claimed that the web was “the single most important development to come along since the IBM PC.” Microsoft, though, was slow to see the potential of building its own search engine, and relied on search partners, such as Inktomi, for several years. The big dream that Microsoft lost became Goggle’s win. By the time it did launch its own dedicated search platform, it had lost significant ground to Google, not just in the search and advertising space, but also the desktop space.
Henry David Thoreau said, “If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavours to live a life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” I want to inspire youths not to only dream big but also take small steps towards the achievement of their dreams, you are never too young to dream. Don’t ever let somebody tell you, you can’t do something. You have a dream, you have to protect, and the right to live your dream is in your hands. There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure. If you don’t have some self-doubts and fear when you pursue a dream, then you haven’t dreamed big enough.
The secret of these great people was that they disciplined themselves to be far from small-minded people. The story of Henry Ford and how he shared his idea of a gasoline motor with his boss and mentor, Thomas Edison, is a very fascinating example of nexus between great minds. It is not all bosses that would support your big ideas, so be mindful who you share your ideas with.
In 1896, Edison, the great inventor who invented the electric bulb, was working on an idea to design a car when he heard that a young man who worked in his company had created an experimental car. Edison met the young man at his company’s party in New York and interviewed him about the car. He was impressed.
He had the same idea as the young man, but he was considering electricity as the power source, while the young man used gasoline engine to power the car. He slammed his fist down and shouted, “young man, that’s the thing! You have it! I think you are on to something. I encourage you to continue your pursuits”. With these words of encouragement from the most highly respected inventor in the United States at that time, Ford continued his work, invented a car and became wealthy.
On December 9, 1914, Edison’s laboratory and factory got burnt. He was 67 years old and the damage was too extensive for insurance cover. Before the ashes were cold, Ford handed Edison a cheque of $750,000, with a note saying that Edison could have more if he needed it. In 1916, Ford relocated his home to the building next to Edison’s home and when Edison couldn’t walk and was confined to a wheelchair by his doctors, Ford also bought a wheelchair in his house, so that he could run wheelchair race with his friend and mentor.
Edison made Ford to believe in himself and got a friend for life. Don’t ever be jealous of other people’s successes and dreams. When you support the dreams of others, you would win a permanent fan for life.
My personal advice to all the youths out there is this: “Build or join a community of big dreamers. Share your dreams and energise each other. Be each other’s accountability partners and cheerleaders. The group can be online, offline or a combination of both. Share stories of inspiration and uplift each other mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Enrich and nourish each other with stories about your big dreams and regular progress status updates regarding the pursuit of your dreams. Stretch each other. Report back to the team on what baby steps and milestones you have achieved.
Finally, never settle for less in life. When you settle for less, you will short-circuit your ability to get more from life. Until you raise the bar of your expectation, you will never become all that God wants you to be.