How To Engage Others In Following Dreams

There are two ways to engage people in a God-sized dream.

You can get behind them and push or you can get in front and inspire. It’s the choice between management or leadership, motivating by fear or leading by faith.

If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea. ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

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Imagine, for a moment, a person with a grand dream, a dream to build a ship and cross the ocean. He stands on the beach and wonders, “How do I get people to join me?”

He might hire people, pay them for their labor. He might con some folks into joining under false pretenses. He might convince them a terrible enemy’s coming and crossing the ocean is their only means of escape. He might, I suppose, capture some slaves and force them to build the ship. All sorts of ways to accomplish the task with different levels of management and coercion.

Or…he might share his dream. He might find a few people who get it, who listen to the story and catch the vision. These folks circle around him, and as they tell the story more and more people get involved. And somehow one guy’s impossible dream becomes a community’s inevitable imperative.

We have to cross the ocean. Oh, we need a ship? Okay, let’s get to work and build it!

Of course that’s the riskier path. No guarantee you’ll find those people willing to buy in. Inspiration takes work. And time. And trust. And faith. And shared sacrifice.

So much safer–and more efficient–to just make it happen, do whatever it takes. After all, it’s a worthy goal, right? That’ll work, if you’re willing to push and make rules and perhaps compromise or cut corners and coerce people to do things your way.

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My wise friend Dick Foth says, “A leader is a person who chooses noble objectives and pursues them with such intensity, passion, and sacrifice that he carries others with him.”

You can compel people, through power and control, to stand for your cause if you don’t care what it costs you.

Or you can make your cause so compelling that they insist on standing for it, no matter what it costs them.

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