Many people report that they do not dream. Many others report that they do have dreams. Dreams are defined as the successions of images, ideas, emotions, and sensations that happen in the mind during certain stages of sleep. The content and purpose of dreams are not definitively understood, though they have been a topic of scientific speculation, as well as a subject of philosophical and religious interest, throughout recorded history. But dreams are at the heart of every act of a visionary leader and every fete of a courageous hero.
Scientific speculation suggests that dreams have survival value in helping us “rehearse” challenges we face in life. Other theories suggest that dreams help us “store” essential data in our memory and discard extraneous information. The spiritual meaning of dreams has been connected with prophecy and communication of divine will.
Regardless of the scientific speculations or spiritual implications, dreams begin the awakening of the hidden hero that lies dormant in all of us. Wilma Rudolph, 1960 Olympic champion in track and field said:
“Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit. We are all the same in this notion: The potential for greatness lives within each of us.”
The fastest woman in the world understood the fuel that can spark greatness in all of us. Dreams are at the core of that burning ember of inspiration. The very word “inspire” contains etymological clues for how to make dreams come true and bring art to life. It comes from the Latin word inspirare, which means “to breathe upon or into.” Breath sustains all life, just as inspiration sparks and sustains creativity. The Latin derivation of breath, spirare, is also synonymous with spirit, drawing an analogy between breath, life, and the spirit that moves it. Our dreams come true to life through that breath of inspiration.
In bringing the art of leadership to life, we inspire greatness in ourselves and the followers we serve. This greatness starts with a simple dream. When you go to sleep tonight, try dreaming a little dream of leadership.