Dream Big!

(Start Small)

What’s in a dream?

Lollipops and roses.  Big things and grand!  Peace on earth and good will toward men!

Hope springs eternal, it seems.  Absurd?  Do dreams really come true?

Sometimes . . . . Maybe . . . . If we wish upon a star?  Or, maybe if we exercise faith.  Maybe if we make a start.  Maybe if we start small.  Maybe, if we never lose focus on the impossible, and we just make it happen.

So, what’s in a nightmare?

Maybe a big dream gone all wrong?  Maybe something in life gotten out of control?  Maybe a bit over one’s head?  In deep?  Too deep?  Under water?

Could be a relationship gone bad (or, about to).  Could be a health condition gone awry.  Maybe a premonition of what will, or could, happen.  Maybe a latent worry now growing itself into a flowering disaster.  Maybe a squeeze on a business situation, something that should have gone just fine.  But didn’t!  Or won’t!

* * * * *

Sarai laughed!  Abram refuted God’s promise.  Later, believed.  Would become the father of a great nation.  Not from Eliezer.  Not from Hagar and Ishmael.  From Sarai?  Through Isaac?  A single child, born of a miracle, carrying a father’s dream of greatness?  God’s dream first?  Then his own?

Big promise.  Small chance.  But somehow, Abram believed, acquired faith.  Made it happen.  At least, he made the possibility happen from the seemingly impossible.  Took a first step.  With Sarai.  With the one who laughed at her ridiculously crazy husband, and the three strangers that carried God’s message.

If Abram believed, he must have dreamed pretty big!  But he sure started from behind.  Too old.  Sarai, too.  From a kernel of faith.  Started awfully small.  Started late.  Started way behind.  Was he crazy?  Nuts?  Old, demented, not thinking straight?

And, who was this God character, anyway?  One of a trinity?  A threesome of guys just visiting all the goat herders on the prairie?  And why were 3 strangers just paying a friendly visit?  Did a cloud (with God in it) just follow these guys around?  Maybe just a dream!  Maybe just the craziest dream that anyone could imagine!  Maybe the wine tasted so good, he got schnockered and lost his day-time mind.

* * * * *

Wandering around in the desert for a couple generations, the Israelites dreamed of a “promised land”.  Twelve guys, the sons of Jacob, began something big.  But they started pretty darned small.  Stuck to it, though.  Maintained their dream.  Eventually, took the necessary steps toward realization.  They crossed the Jordan!  The waters parted.  But, couldn’t get to the other side without first taking a few steps to cross it.

I would have taken swimming lessons, first.  Or, worn some floaties.  Just me, though.  A guy that worries too much.  A guy that tries to avoid nightmares.  Mostly.  Sometimes, my focus descends from the horizon to my feet.  Do I lose sight of my big dream?  Or, does focus require looking for my next step?  A lack of faith?  Or, starting small?

* * * * *

Maybe a poor analogy!  But, dreaming big . . . . starting small . . . .applies to most entrepreneurs.  Bill Gates.  Steve Jobs.  A bunch of others whose bio’s I haven’t yet reviewed.  But they all dreamed big, started small.  (Ignore Elon Musk.  From another planet.)

Over the past year and a half, multiple aspiring entrepreneurs have proposed business plans that required 6 figure start-up capital (US dollars).

Fat chance!

Not that these business plans didn’t and don’t add up.  Maybe they did, and still do.  But investors, the ones that I know, tend to want to start small, see demonstrated success, underpinned with integrity, hard work, and common (business) sense.  Most any investor knows the likelihood of new-business failure stands just a bit shy of 100%.  Most new businesses fail.  Even when they pursue good ideas.  (Ignore Elon Musk, again.  Note, I haven’t bought his stock yet.)

I continue to work with aspiring entrepreneurs from Tanzania.  Their character appears to exude integrity, hard work ethic, and enthusiasm for what might be.  All dream big.  All aspire to greatness and prosperity.  All appear to wear a mantle of possibility over a shoulder of capability, not quite matured.  All bear the marks of dreamers on the verge of entrepreneurial success.

Most all want to start big!

Call me a skeptic.  Cynical, perhaps.

Greatness requires birth.  Birth emerges into life pretty small, helpless.  Idea births, much like human births, much like a sinful nature, destines to blunder itself through development, before maturing misstep-filled experience into competence, firm direction and investor worthiness.

I continue to see immense potential for greatness.  In fact, I haven’t yet met a Tanzanian individual who doesn’t bear a mark of greatness.  I’ve turned a few aspirants into discouraged dreamers.  Only because their dreams and plans didn’t yet meet (my perspective) appropriate standards for investor risk.  Some lacked experience.  Some lacked a clear financial path to sustainability, much less growth.

None lacked the seed of greatness, born in the body, mind and spirit of the aspiring entrepreneur.

From a practical standpoint, a credible business plan will likely need to demonstrate an ability to begin small, say with an initial capital investment of maybe not much more than $5,000 or $10,000.  Some may require more, some less.  But the investors that I know and want to work with don’t want to throw big money at a high risk investment without first seeing that first investment demonstrate profitability.  A successful track record, underpinned with integrity, hard work and enthusiasm, anchored with solid common (business) sense shares no comparable peer.  With demonstrated success comes confidence.  With mistakes turned into wisdom comes efficiency and business-smarts.

I like to work with dreamers who look down.  To making their first step one by which they don’t trip and flatten their nose on the Jordan-bottom right in front of them.  Trading glimpses between horizon and immediate feet doesn’t bother me.  In fact, as a guy of small faith, I buy into that style.  Love to dream.  Love to not trip.  Love to avoid nightmares.

* * * * *

Did Isaiah prophesy a king?  A savior of Israel?  In the mold of King David?  Same lineage?  A ruler of nations?

Excuse my cynicism!  He really missed the mark!

What most Christians consider the fulfillment of his prophesy turned out to never take a purple robe, a throne, a majestic court or temple.  To describe this event in human terms did a gross injustice to Israel’s hope.  Turned out, this “fulfillment” became the most famous, most celebrated person in the chronicles of human-kind.  No other king ever came close to the majesty of this fulfillment.  In fact, even describing it in terms of the history of human-kind does it a gross injustice.  How can divinity compare with a nation’s ruler, or even the greatness shown through human history?  In my mind, it can’t.

Maybe Isaiah drank too much wine before he wrote his prediction.  Or, maybe he just listened to a still small voice speaking to him.  I guess I’ll opt for the latter explanation.  For now.  But starting out, that still small voice bore the resemblance of a mustard seed.  In size, anyway.  At least, from what I’ve heard, a mustard seed takes up little space and weighs small enough to easily thumb a ride on the wind.

Then the next small step.  The birth of child.  If I was there, I wouldn’t have called Him King.  I might have burped him, or tried to make sure the helpless little thing kept warm.  He probably didn’t bear the might of his Father at that point.

Took a bunch of small steps, at least for about 12 years.  Started feeling his oats after that, teaching and debating with the spiritual know-it-alls.  Did it really take 30 years before greatness, wearing sandals, living off the land and the generosity of friends, and washing the dirty feet of his buddies, matured?

A dream fulfilled itself.  Abraham’s.  The Israelites’.  Isaiah’s.

Through small steps, preceded by big dreams.  Really big dreams!

Dreams whose bigness got blown away.  Almost like mustard seeds taken up by the wind.

* * * * *

I have a dream.  A bit different than Martin Luther King’s dream.  But not much.

I dream of greatness arising from the dusty, pot-holed roads of Tanzania.

OK, I’m a bit crazy!  Don’t drink much wine.  Maybe listening to some crazy small voice from time to time.  Someone might want to put me away somewhere, some time, where a bunch of us crazies might pool our thinking, change the world.  Our still, small voices might change the world.  In the mean time . . . .

I share some dreams with a few buddies (not gender specific) living in Tanzania.  They’re intoxicating, like wine from great vineyards.  (The dreams, I mean.  Not my buddies.)  They soar on clouds, on eagles’ wings.  They fill the horizon.

I hope my buddies look down at their feet often enough to not lose focus.  Or, at least as far as it might take to successfully engage that next step.

Buddies, take pity on a guy with little faith!

And wash your feet once in awhile!

Even better, wash a buddy’s.


December 18, 2018


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