Plans Are Great… Dreams Are Better
Just the other day, I had the pleasure of being part of a conversation with a friend that really inspired me. She recounted a recent meeting with her staff that was rather unconventional Most meetings focus on an agenda, a specified set of topics, issues, events, etc. This one was different. It focused on the hopes and dreams of the participants. Wait a minute, what? Hopes and dreams? Yeah, that’s right. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still a need for the standard issue meeting, or lesson plan, or structured activity, or whatever, complete with agenda and all the trimmings, but there is an equally important place at the table for engagements that focus on people and what drives them.
Instead of the regular time-delimited, structured meeting with norms and outcomes, this particular meeting focused on people. Each participant was encouraged to talk about what motivates them, what their dreams are for themselves and and what they believe is important in the work that they do. The meeting was, of course, a phenomenal success. Some might say, it’s the work that is important and that’s why we focus our time talking about what we’re doing, and how we’re going to do it, but it’s the people who do the work. If you inspire them and allow them to inspire you, the work will naturally grow from that fertile ground. Not only will it grow, it will thrive.
The conversation got me thinking… I wonder if we give enough credit to the power of hopes and dreams when it comes to motivating people? Whether it be the students in our classrooms, or the people we work with everyday. You can plan, plan, plan, but if there is no inspiration, the plans often fall flat. Gone are the days of factory style classrooms and workplaces. If you really want to get things moving, inspiration is the way to go!
I remember being a student. I’ll admit, I wasn’t the most well behaved kid in class, but I got good grades and followed most of the rules. I dreaded, no, hated the assignments in which I had to do something that I wasn’t interested in. I challenged everything that didn’t make sense to me. Yeah, I was that kid. I had some incredible teachers though. Teachers that understood the need for flexibility and the amazing learning that could take place when kids got to find their own way through the content. Those teachers understood kids and their dreams and their interests… best of all, they knew how to harness that invisible energy to make learning happen.
Fast forward several decades… I’m no longer a student of the educational system, but the concepts are the same. It doesn’t matter whether you’re teaching, administering or managing, you are shouldered with the responsibility of being a leader and with the challenge of motivating people. If you start by figuring out their dreams, you can make plans from there. People’s hopes and dreams act as fuel – and it’s the most free and renewable kind of energy there is.
A couple of posts back, I wrote about a TED Talk that continues to pop up as a source of inspiration in my work. The speaker, Simon Sinek talks about how to inspire change and how to lead in a way that has gravitational pull. If you’re looking to make the world a better place, start with dreams. Plans are second.