Dreaming the Dream – Part 1

Let’s talk about career dreams.  In part one, we will explore what it takes to pursue our dreams.  Then, in part two, we will give the pursuit a bit of context with a slight reality check. 

One of my favorite movies is A Knights Tale (2001 Columbia Pictures).  The movie is about a young peasant, William Thatcher, who pretends to a nobleman so that he can participate in jousting tournaments in the hopes of changing the course of his life.

In the scene that launches the caper, William attempts to hatch a plan with his two friends.  He is intent on not accepting the station to which his birth has assigned him and proclaims, that “a man can change his stars, and I won’t spend the rest of my life as nothing.” He is met with immediate resistance.

Surprisingly, friends and associates are not always our biggest advocates.  There are times that we might have the desire to grow, to achieve, and to move beyond the place in life that seems to be our destiny only to hear why we cannot and should not.   For a wide variety of reasons, our dreams are not always acceptable to those who know us and we may elicit the same reaction that William Thatcher received from his friend Geoffrey Chaucer:  “We’re the sons of peasants.  Glory and riches and stars are beyond our grasp, but a full stomach…that dream can come true!” So what do we do?

Know yourself.

The very first thing that we must do in reaching for our dream is to know ourselves.  William Thatcher knew himself.  He knew he was good with a sword.  He obviously had confidence in his horsemanship, strength, and athletic ability.  He also had confidence in his ability to learn the lance.  He knew that he would never be content in the place to which life had assigned him. So, while his friends were urging him to not pursue his dream, he was not willing to have his desires so readily squashed by naysayers.  He was willing to take the risk of failure.

Who are you? What are your strengths and weaknesses? What are you willing to endure to reach your dream? Can you listen to the naysayers without allowing them to affect your attitude?

Be willing to fail.

One of the truths of life is that risk accompanies rewards.  This is true with investing, sports, and other areas of life.  If we are afraid to fail, we will never be willing to step out of our comfort zone.  Fear will keep us safely attached to what is familiar, and we will stay inside of our prescribed boundaries and likely never reach the fullest extent of our abilities.  Thus we must put fear aside.  Although we might still experience hesitation, self doubt and other emotions contrary to our goal, we must not be controlled by them.

Are you willing to fail in the pursuit of your dream, or are you more comfortable not rocking the boat?  Some of the brightest minds in history experienced failure multiple times before they reached success.  (Check out the YouTube Video “Famous Failures.”) Do you have the dogged determination to see your dream through?  Are you willing to step outside your comfort zone and tune out your fear?

Know your goal.

Another important ingredient in the pursuit of a dream is to know your goal.  What is it that you are setting out to do?  William Thatcher’s pursuit was to be the best jouster and to win tournaments.  So, he either had to know what was required to be a jouster or was willing to learn the requirements.

What is your goal?  Is it specific enough to measure or so broad that you might want to think about it a bit more?  Is it short term or long term?  Do you have what it takes, right now, to achieve your goal?

Have a plan to reach your goal.

Once William knew what was necessary to successfully joust, he began to plan to reach his goal.  He practiced.  He pieced together his story.  He came up with the necessary equipment.  He enlisted his friends to help him.  He planned to attend the tournaments.

What are your plans to reach your goal?  Are there specific classes that you must take?  Is an advanced degree necessary?  Do you need certain skills and experience?  Who can help you achieve your goals?  Put your plan in writing, refer back to it frequently, and make changes where needed.

Be prepared to do the necessary work.

William was prepared to work at his goal.  His training was difficult and the actual tournaments were even worse.  In fact, his dogged determination to win fueled him on to victory despite a nearly debilitating injury.

Are you prepared to do the work necessary to achieve your dream?   Are you willing to make the necessary sacrifices in time, money, and effort?  Reaching a dream is not always a fun process.  Are you prepared for that?

Stay tuned for part two.


As Assistant Director of Recruiting within the Wake Forest Schools of Business Corporate Relations team, Lisa’s passion is connecting employers with student talent and creating a positive experience for both. She manages all aspects of recruiting, retention, and systems for the graduate business school.  Her strengths include relationship management, networking, social media engagement, information aggregation, process facilitation and communication. Lisa has been employed at Wake Forest since the fall of 2002.  She has over 20 years of work experience in various roles.  Prior to arriving at Wake Forest, she was an entrepreneur, venturing into web-based international sales and marketing of salvage automotive parts and accessories.  Before that, she was a trust officer in the Employee Benefit Trust area of Wachovia Bank.  Lisa is also a veteran of the United States Air Force. Lisa earned a B.S. in Business Administration from Rollins College and will complete her Masters in Liberal Arts from Wake Forest in 2011.  Visit Lisa’s blog, follow her on Twitter, or connect on LinkedIn.

Related posts:

  1. Dreaming the Dream – Part II
  2. Developing a Vogue Career – Part II
  3. Young Candidates Compete for Dream Jobs on MTV’s “Hired”

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