Book Review
Title: "Dare, Dream, Do: Remarkable Things Happen When You Dare to Dream"
Author: Whitney Johnson
Publisher: Bibliomotion, 2012; 256 pages; $24.95

A dear friend who just so happens to be a wonderful mother recently confided in me that she was concerned that she might have trained her oldest son’s wildest dreams out of him in the name of encouraging him toward a "serious" career.

At 8 or 9 years old, he’d said he wanted to be a lion tamer or some such. She’d replied that lions ought not be tamed and that he should come up with a more realistic aspiration for his "when I grow up" career vision.

We talked through some of her regret. Who among us hasn’t wished we could redo a conversation with our children? My friend came out reassured that she had not quashed her son’s ability to dream (he’s now 13).

Yet, our conversation circled the much bigger, very real issue that so many adults face or, rather, fail to face. As children, we dream big dreams. But we tend to do much less dreaming as we age, often trading our lofty fantasies for the inevitable pile of practical concerns and disappointments we accumulate over a lifetime.

Harvard Business Review blogger Whitney Johnson tackles precisely this issue, undertaking a mission to systematically resuscitate our childlike dream powers and supercharge them with grown-up powers of execution in her new book, "Dare, Dream, Do: Remarkable Things Happen When You Dare to Dream."

Here are a few of Johnson’s many salient pointers for how to conjure up and manifest your dreams:

1. "Use your words." There is creative power, Johnson says, in simply, boldly stating your dream verbally, and claiming it as your own. Doing so, she argues, allows us to experience life with meaning, to express our deepest emotions and viewpoints that otherwise have no outlet, and to turn our messy, painful experiences into a stories that both springboard us into a hopeful future and have the power to create change in the rest of the world. Johnson provides several inspirational examples of women who prove these points.

2. "Make space for your dreams." The power of "Dare, Dream, Do" is in its marriage of the inspirational challenge to readers (Dream big!!) with the nuts and bolts logistics of how to actually realize their dreams. On the latter point, Johnson provides a number of instructions for how to create the space in our lives, our budgets, our homes and offices, and especially our calendars for the dreaming and doing that manifestation requires.

Acknowledging that in a busy daily life, it can be easier to dream than to set about the detailed work of doing (and urging readers to push past that friction anyway), Johnson goes on to encourage readers to be intentional about making space for their dreams, including:

  • take "solo staycations" when needing to get dream work done;
  • gear up to ask for the resources and help they need; and
  • reconfigure spending habits so as to effectively vote for one’s own dreams, with one’s dollars.

3. "Bootstrap." Johnson urges readers to move beyond perfectionism and into a scrappy state of getting their dreams activated and in motion with whatever resources they do have. In fact, she encourages them to inventory their resources and look for the hidden opportunities to rethink elements of their plans, models and ideas based on the gaps or holes where they don’t have something they think is necessary.

In "Dare, Dream, Do," Johnson presents a three-step path to moving forward in life and being happy that is punctuated and beautifully illustrated with the poignant stories of dozens of women who acted on their dreams of everything from running marathons to running world-changing businesses. If you’ve stopped dreaming as an adult, or if you have a secret dream you’ve always wanted to act on, "Dare, Dream Do" might be just the inspirational and instructional manual you need.

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