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Inspiration: Dreaming versus Doing

I like commencement speeches.  It is a time for new beginnings and time for reflection.  I remember the late Tim Russert giving the commencement speech when I graduated from law school.  Last year, I really liked the commencement speech that George Saunders gave at Syracuse University talking about kindness.

This year, Shona Rhimes, screenwriter, recently gave a commencement address at her alma mater, Dartmouth.  Here is what she has to say about dreaming versus doing.  These are some good points to reflect upon.

I think a lot of people dream.  And while they are busy dreaming, the really happy people, the really successful people, the really interesting, engaged, powerful people are busy doing.  The dreamers.  They stare at the sky and they make plans and they hope and they talk about it endlessly.  And they start a lot of sentences with “I want to be…” or “I wish.”

“I want to be a writer.”  “I wish I could travel around the world.”

And they dream of it.  The buttoned-up ones meet for cocktails and they brag about their dreams, and the hippie ones have vision board and they meditate about their dream.  Maybe you write in journals about your dreams or discuss it endlessly with your best friend or your girlfriend or your mother.  And it feels really good.  You’re talking about it, and you’re planning it.  Kind of.  You are blue-skying your life.  And that is what everyone says you should be doing.  Right?  I mean, that’s what Oprah and Bill Gates did to get successful, right?


Dreams are lovely.  But they are just dreams.  Fleeting, ephemeral, pretty.  But dreams to not come true just because you dream them.  It’s hard work that make things happen.  It’s hard work that creates change.  So, Lesson One, I guess is:  Ditch the dream and be a doer, not a dreamer.  Maybe you know exactly what it is you dream of being, or maybe you’re paralyzed because you have no idea what your passion is.  The truth is, it doesn’t matter.  You don’t have to know.  You just have to keep moving forward.  You just have to keep doing something, seizing the next opportunity, staying open to trying something new.  It doesn’t have to fit your vision of the perfect job or the perfect life.  Perfect is boring and dreams are not real.  Just…do.  So you think, “I wish I could travel.”  Great.  Sell your crappy car, buy a ticket to Bangkok, and go.  Right now.  I’m serious.

You can watch and read Shonda Rhimes’ full commencement speech here.

So, today start ‘doing!’


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