Dream Big Dreams / by Aimee Enlow


I recently heard a speech by one of my favorite actors. Denzel Washington was addressing a group of college students at their commencement ceremony. He said, “Don’t be afraid to fail big. To dream big. Remember dreams without goals are just dreams and they ultimately fuel disappointment.”

I found these words to be profound. Most of us are encouraged to dream big dreams. But his dreams were born out of failure. He had just flunked out of college. He had no ideas or plans or dreams. But, through the encouraging words of a woman sitting under the dryer in his mom’s beauty shop, he was challenged.

And then, he made a choice. He did not allow his failure to define him. He chose to leave his failure behind, and dream a dream to propel him forward. He chose to stand on top of his failure and be motivated to achieve his dream.

What about you? I think we sometimes focus so much on our failure, that we forget that failure is often life’s greatest stepping stone to achieve our greatest dream.

I found these words of his to also be encouraging: “Dreams without goals … ultimately fuel disappointment.” An interesting process he explores. Success can begin with failure. Failure, given the right environment, can fuel a dream. But the distance between a dream and its realization is measured in goals set and achieved. Someone once said, “Those who fail to plan, plan to fail.”

Don’t be defined by your failure. Use your failure as a stepping stone to realize your dreams. Don’t allow failure to be the ending. Reframe it. Let failure challenge you to a new beginning instead.

Don’t let fear determine the size of your dream. Instead, let a big failure challenge you to dream an even bigger dream. Fear robs us. Overcome the fear, embrace the failure and let it launch you to new heights of dreaming!

Let your dream be driven by your goals. Put tangible, measurable, realistic goals to your dream. What will it take for you to realize the dream? Write down practical, manageable steps and keep a record of your progress. Be sure to give yourself deadlines.

Success is rarely an inclined plane. “One step forward, two steps backward,” isn’t just an adage. It is usually proven. Don’t be discouraged by setbacks. Know that you will have days that don’t go as you planned. There will be up’s and down’s. Your success will not likely be a straight line up.  

Keep your eye on the dream. Don’t lose sight of where you’re headed. Don’t let the momentary frustrations and fractional failures stop your forward progress.  Give yourself permission to make mistakes, to amend your goals and even tweak your dream now and then.

Perhaps achieving your dream is more about the process than the end. Keep the dream in view, but enjoy the journey.