Pruning a Dream


In one of my very first entrepreneurship classes, we were in the midst of a brainstorming session. Students around the room were throwing out their ideas with gusto, and as idea pow-wows normally go, some thoughts were good and some were a little bit far fetched. Being the ultimate rational thinker that I am, I remember bringing up a counter point to someone's plan. I questioned the viability, right after they mentioned it. I will never forget my professor's response - we never shut down any idea in a brainstorming session. When we give ourselves permission to dream, it feels liberating. The last thing anyone needs is to have their skills questioned when they're shooting for the moon. I learned a valuable lesson that day because I was taught that sometimes the biggest, craziest ideas can be the ones that work if they're nurtured, instead of shut down. But, the story can't end there.

If you launch into a dream with clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose (Friday night lights, sorry, I had to), you feel powerful. Every startup begins with a visionary and a crazy idea. I know this for a fact. I worked in a tech accelerator one year and watched nine different companies walk through this journey. I own my own business. I've watched my dad and my husband start and grow multiple businesses. One fact always holds true:

The beginning is thrilling; the pruning is painful.

Critiquing an idea in the brainstorming phase is dangerous because you could kill a dream. However, launching into a dream without preparing yourself for the potential pitfalls is just as reckless. When we sign on to a dream, be it in our own lives or a corporate setting, we rarely think about how we'll press on when the path gets really hard. When you sign up for a spin class or go for a run, you are thinking about how good you'll feel after it's over. That's why we tend to panic 30 minutes in when our legs are burning and we can't catch our breath.

Dreaming, to me, feels a lot like being out of breath. I tend to run full-force towards my goal, only to realize that I didn't prepare for the path to be more difficult than I expected. That's why dreams get lost and forgotten most of the time. We start to believe that the dream was wrong or impossible because the in-between is so uncomfortable.

As Jennie Allen said in her book Restless, "The path to our purpose here is rarely built comfortably." If we want to be successful in reaching our goals, we have to start planning and expecting the pruning process to be a natural part of every journey. Yes, it will look different for each person and obstacles tend to appear at the worst time, but when we say "yes" to a dream, we're really saying yes to the whole process.