Updated: May 16, 2020
Why Your Big Dreams May Die Young I’m at a place in life now where I no longer want to build to impress. I want to build to last. It took me longer to get here than I’d like to admit, but I’m glad I finally woke up to this idea. If you’re losing hope in your dream you’re probably trying to build to impress instead of building to last. Let me tell you why.
LOSING HOPE IN YOUR DREAM?
As a pastor I sit with many friends, students and even some strangers who share with me about their journey. Due to just how I’m wired I suppose, we inevitably get to talking about dreams and passion and pursuing who God’s made us to be. More and more, I hear people tell me about how they’re losing hope in their dream. How the thing they were once passionate about, even willing to sacrifice for, they’re now considering walking away from. Just giving up on it. They share many different reasons for why, but ultimately it almost always comes down to this: “Paul, it’s just not happening fast enough. I thought I’d be much further along by now.”
I’m not saying that everyone of them are wrong for coming to their conclusion, I just think there’s more to it. Here’s what I’m trying to get at. Building to last means thinking long term. It means embracing the process as much as the product. We’re all aware that anything of worth having in life takes time so I won’t beat that idea any further. However, it’s evident that there is one idea that we haven’t fully grasped.
TOO MUCH, TOO SOON
We seem to forget that if we’re given too much too soon, it’ll most likely crush us. Like getting a 12-year-old a Mustang GT or a 5-year-old a power tool. Neither of them had the time to develop what’s necessary to handle those gifts. They’ll hurt, or worse, they’ll kill themselves and potentially others. And if your dreams are as big as they should be, the same principle applies. It’ll take time to grow the character and discipline necessary to sustain the responsibilities that come with your dream. Arriving too soon isn’t a blessing, it’s a time-bomb waiting to blow.
Now I get that this isn’t a popular idea. You know, embracing the process. It’s probably more frustrating than anything else to be honest. I mean, we live in an age where someone who’s practiced and worked hard for an opportunity can be passed up for someone who, though less talented or disciplined, get the opportunity because they have more views or followers. So I can imagine that the appeal to push through the drudgery of practice or rehearsal isn’t great when compared to making goofy videos and hoping for a big break.
When you build to impress the people around you, you give your power away. They become the shaper of your direction and ultimately your destination.
Now before you open a new tab and start heading down the rabbit hole of cat videos. Consider this quote from Hip-Hop artist Lecrae, “If you live for their acceptance, you’ll die from their rejection.” The other trap in building to impress, instead of building to last is that it encourages you to pretend you’re much further along than you actually are. Losing hope in your real dream is a natural result.
See, when you build to impress the people around you, you give your power away. They become the shaper of your direction, your pace, and ultimately your destination. This frantic rush to present the right image to them forces you to forfeit real substance for a facade. Causing you to try to skip the painful lessons of life experience. Which, by the way, is what legends and icons are made of.
ARE YOU REALLY READY?
Ultimately, this approach causes us to never actually be ready when the opportunities we’ve dreamed of arrives . Make no mistake, your opportunity most likely will show up one day. The question is, will you be ready for it, or just look like you’re ready? Will all of your faking be exposed by you dream coming true?
Just pause and really consider this. What if your golden opportunity showed up at your door today? The dream job, dream spouse, dream gig, etc. What if today it was placed right in front of you? Are you really ready? Or do you honestly only look ready? Would it crush you or catapult you towards your ultimate goal? This is the difference between the person who builds to last instead of to impress.
Arriving too soon isn’t a blessing, it’s a time-bomb waiting to blow!
HOW TO APPLY THIS TO YOUR LIFE
At this point, you may be asking what now? How do you apply this idea of building to last, instead of to impress? You build to last by prioritizing private disciplines over public perception. In other words, you take your power back!
Now, before we jump into exactly what that means, I need to let you know something upfront. This point can sound so deceptively simple that many are tempted to brush it aside. Often thinking it’s too simple of an idea to make a big impact. So to emphasize just how impactful small changes can be, I want you to read the next two sentences out loud.
I like cooking my family and my pets!
I like cooking, my family, and my pets!
Building to last is a matter of making small adjustments in key areas of life that lead to a big impact.
Now, if a comma can be the difference between psychopath and love, imagine what a small adjustment to your daily routine can do? Yes, that’s a bit extreme, but you get the point. Building to last is a matter of making small adjustments in key areas of life that lead to a big impact.
PRIVATE DISCIPLINES OVER PUBLIC PERCEPTION
This is the equivalent of prioritizing practice over performance. Think athletes, ballerina’s, or even competitive baristas. It’s choosing to develop discipline and strength when people aren’t watching or cheering. So when you’re called to a public stage you’ve developed what’s necessary, not to perform, but to thrive. It’s practicing your sermons, speeches or songs in the quite of your home when there is no audience, so that when they arrive, you’re simply doing what comes naturally to you. No anxiety about being found out as a fraud or slipping up and sabotaging an opportunity you’ve dreamed for. Just doing what you’ve done a million times before.
I think it’s also important to note that because this is easy to understand, it doesn’t mean it’s easy to apply. It will take time, practice, and reorienting your perspective of public perception. For me, as a Christian, I hold this to close heart. The Apostle Paul wrote to a young Pastor named Timothy saying this, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” In other words, do the private work in order to present, not just a public life, but deeper than that, a genuine competence of responsibility and integrity character before God Himself. Whether you believe in God or not, you can probably imagine that you can’t fake it with Him.
Powerful people prioritize private disciplines over public perception.
This principle is applicable across the spectrum of professions. Whether you’re a business professional, athlete, performer, lawyer, consultant, or mom. This principle applies to you.
THE POCKET POTENTIAL
If you’re losing hope in your dream you’re probably building to impress instead of building to last. You’ve given you’re power to persevere towards your dream away to the very people you’re trying to impress. You need to reverse this. You need to take your power back! It’s time to start prioritizing private disciplines over public perception. This is what powerful people do. They do not release the power to choose their direction, pace, or destination to people around them, they give that power to God alone.
Thanks for reading! For bonus content and resources subscribing to my weekly news letter. Also, if you have other ideas about great practices of self-leadership, leave a comment below. I’d love to learn from you!