Are You An Unwitting Dream Stealer?

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Post written by Carin Kiphart.

If you have big dreams, sooner or later someone is going to say, “you can’t do it” or “you are crazy to try” or “be more realistic.”  There is an endless steam of dream stealers and nay-sayers in the world today.  Are you one of them?  Could you be and not know it?

My Father was a nay-sayer who didn’t know it.

I learned the answer to this question later in life than I would have liked.  I grew up with a father who crushed many of my dreams.  Not intentionally I’m sure … but he did.  I would rush to him with what I knew to be the world’s greatest idea, my eyes all a twinkle, knowing that I would be long remembered for this great scheme.

He always countered me:  “Well, did you think about this?”  Or that? “Or here’s why that won’t work”.  Now I realize that his intentions were honorable. He wanted me to think bigger and think things through.  But as a kid I was simply looking for someone to champion my dreams and tell me I was on the right track. I would leave a conversation with him in tears vowing never to bring breath to an idea again.

Fortunately, I always had more ideas.  Ideas that were too big to ignore and fit my free spirit life, crazy ones like becoming a professional shark feeder.  Who was going to support THAT dream? Pretty much no one, except my husband.

But I did it. For years I was a professional shark feeder in French Polynesia and it was a grand highlight of my life.  In fact, I’m still traveling around the world scuba diving with big sharks.  NO ONE can stop me from the adventurous life I lead.

But sometimes, words of nay sayers creep into my head and try to pull me towards mediocrity. They whisper in my ear to get a “real job” and a “real life” and “pay the piper”.  They ask me, “who am I to do these grand things?” And I say, if there were less nay-sayers and more supporters in this world then there would be less noise in the heads of big dreamers.  And this world desperately needs more big dreamers.

Off with your heads dream stealers!

Are You A Supporter Or Dream Stealer?

How do you react to other people’s dreams, schemes and plans to set the world on fire?

  1.  Look Closely At Yourself.  Think about the last five friends who came to you for support with their dreams.  How did you react?  Did you immediately come up with reasons why they should “get real” or did you help them with ideas to propel them forward?
  2. Are there some people you encourage and some you discourage?  Do you play favorites?  Are you supportive of the dreams of your children but unsupportive of your spouse’s?

Why Do People Steal Dreams?

  1.  Big Dreams Hold Up a Mirror For Other’s to See Themselves.  Do you become envious of your friends with big plans because you don’t live large enough?  Do their big dreams shine a light on your lack thereof?  If so, examine your own goals and discover if there is something more you want out of life. Then make a plan to get it.
  2. Fear.  Many people react negatively out of fear.  It’s something that is at least a little hard wired into all of us. I’m sure my mother tried to discourage me from becoming a professional shark feeder because she was afraid I would die.  Fair enough. But it is important to understand that people are in charge of their own lives.  Tell your friends you love them and explain your fear around their decision but if it’s their dream, find a way to be supportive.  Down the road, my mother actually came shark diving with me.  And both of us lived to tell the tale. Imagine that.
  3. Friends don’t want to be left behind.  If you have a big dream and go after it, you may leave your friends behind.  This definitely happens and can make everyone uncomfortable.  You may physically leave them to go traveling for your dream or what you are doing may simply be outside their interests.

Why Be Supportive Of Others?

  1.  True friends are supportive.  Whether or not you agree with someone’s dream, it is their dream and who are we not to be supportive?  If you are afraid or concerned for them it’s okay to express it but find a way to be supportive.  Here’s my story:

When my husband decided he wanted to climb the highest mountains in the world, I had a difficult time being supportive. I was seriously afraid for his life climbing 8000 meter peaks and I was afraid it would deter us from our scuba diving expeditions (It was obviously about me). So I explained that I wanted to be supportive but I had reservations.

We talked about it and talked about it and talked more about it.  As I learned more about what he wanted to accomplish, why and how important this dream was for him, I realized how selfish it was to try to turn him from it. Though I remained fearful, I threw my support behind him.  And guess what I learned?

  1.  It brought joy.  Once I threw my support behind my husband, I began learning and taking an interest in climbing high mountains. In the end, I joined him on the 6th highest mountain in the world in Tibet.  It was an incredible joy to be climbing myself and to see him so happy in the realization of his dream.
  2. A rising tide lifts all boats. When you stand in support of someone’s big dream, it propels you towards your own.  It makes you realize that if they can succeed, so can you. In this case, the mirror shows you a path to reach your own dreams. For me, I made my own climbing goals reaching 20,000 feet in the Himalayas and a few months ago led our first group to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Now, when a friend comes to me with a big dream I first gauge my reaction and if it’s not completely supportive, I ask myself what is the motivator behind my lack of endorsement and remind myself that it is not about me, it is about them, their dreams and their life.  Then I find a way to help them on their journey.

Who are we to try to steal anyone’s dreams?

Carin Kiphart, “Mantagirl” is a worldwide expedition leader, scuba diving instructor and passionate author of all things adventure and travel. She was inducted to the NY based Explorers Club in 2006. Her latest book, Travel Like a Pro is available on her website

photo source:  Silvertip Shark, Rangiroa Atoll, French Polynesia Photo: Ridlon from Carin’s site.

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