When I was in my early twenties, living a dream life was not something that I was much concerned. I was pretty much content with the life that I led then. I had a job. I had friends with whom I could hang out and enjoy the fruit of my work (in other words, spend money). It was great.
Then I was introduced to a group of extraordinary people. They have only one thing in their mind: achieving their dreams.
They have a particular system through which a person can build a network of product distribution to reach a level of ‘financial independence’. On that level, one is no longer dependent on a job to earn income. Once the distribution channel is in place, and goods start to flow through that channel, the person will earn a steady flow of comission-based income.
The person, who is in their lingo is called an ‘Independence Business Owner’ can literally ‘live’ his dreams on that stage. No more waking up early every day to beat the traffic to the office. No more bosses. No limit on what he wants to do on his next holiday. No problem in getting the big house with a swimming pool and 6-car garage (and the 6 cars to fill the garage, too).
It was a fun ride for a while. Then I realized that it was not the only way to realizing a dream. It depends mostly on what kind of dream that you have.
But ever since that stint in the network marketing business, I got used to the idea that dreams are not just to fill an idle afternoon. Dreams are supposed to be materialized. A dream comes to a person’s mind when it is time for that dream to come into being.
When it comes to dreaming, my first reflection is a carefree, comfortable, productive life. I dream of living in a beautiful house, in a quiet and affluent neighborhood. I dream of working from home. I dream of working not to make money, but to do my passion. I dream of helping less fortunate people to have better life and education. And so on. I can fill a book writing down all my dreams.
I dream of living my life having things, doing things. Too many things, in fact.
I remember the story of Mr. Dale Carnegie, the founder of Dale Carnegie Training. He spent years of his life trying to be successful as an actor. He was already doing an impressive job as a salesman for a meat company when he decided to quit, and use the money he saved to take a course in dramatic arts. He ended up applying his acting skills in a role in a traveling theatre troupe. Not like what he had dreamed of.
He ended up back in New York trying to make a living as a truck salesman. Yes he was an excellent meat salesman thanks to his upbringing in a farm back in Missouri. But selling trucks was a whole different game. And he didn’t like trucks, at all.
He wrote in his book that during that time, every night he went back from work to his small, cramped, roach infested room with a pounding pain in his head. He was so sick of it. He wanted to do something else, something that he would enjoy doing. He knew that he had nothing to lose but a job that he hated anyway.
Then he focused on his most basic dream in life. It was to have a teaching job at night so he can have the day for reading and writing.
From there, he thought of all the practical things he could do to make his dream come true. He found one thing he was sure would be beneficial for adults to learn. He convinced YMCA to let him do a night time public speaking course, and he agreed to be paid percentage of the profit. Then he worked hard to make sure that the public speaking class was successful.
Thus the abridged story of the birth of Dale Carnegie Training in 1912, the oldest business-oriented training organization in the world, which has since helped over 8 million people in over 80 countries around the world achieve business and personal results.
I kept thinking about that story, and I could not help being marveled at how apt it was to my condition now. No, I’m not saying that I am some sort of Carnegie-incarnate. It’s just I’ve been feeling like I am at a crossroad.
Remember all the things that I want to have and do? I should decide now which one I want to achieve first. Like in Mr. Carnegie’s case, I must find my simplest, most basic dream, the one that can be the corner stone for the rest of my dreams.
Right now my original dream is this: To have sufficient source of living that enables me to work for my passion without worrying about making money.
From there I must know the answer to the following questions:
1. What is my passion? What is the one thing that I am willing to do without getting paid?
2. If I don’t get paid for doing my passion, what will be my source of income?
To tell you the truth, it is the answer to the first question that is still elusive. The reason for that, believe it or not, is that there are several things that I would gladly do without getting economic compensation. In fact, everything that I’m good at I am willing to do for free. A problem arises when I am required to pick just one.
Perhaps, like Mr. Carnegie did, I should be more pragmatic and practical, and reverse the question. It is no longer about identifying things that I’m willing to do for nothing. Instead, from all those things, I must pick one of them that will yield the most benefit, and therefore people will be more willing to spend money on.
This is critical not only because it will be the most profitable skills to develop. It will also be the best use of time.
With that criterion in mind, I came to the conclusion that teaching, training and coaching skills are ones that people will find to have more practical values compared to my artistic interests.
Luckily, I have a less vague idea for the second question. I found a strong answer for this during my network marketing days. Day in day out we were reminded to build the distribution channel into a sustainable business, which in turn will replace our jobs as our livelihood.
I used to think that I have to build a business from scratch to achieve that. Now, I see my job in my company as a business building activity that will someday enable me to let go of my day job.*
The first time I read Mr. Carnegie’s words, I said to myself, “Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to spend the whole day just doing things you like?”
It never occured to me that I will have the opportunity to make the same choice.
*(Some of you are probably raising your eyebrows. What do I mean by my job is a business building activity? This is something I picked up from Cliff Hakim’s excellent book “We Are All Self Employed.” In essence, we are our own boss. Whatever job we do now is actually just a learning opportunity where we are trained in a trade, that may someday be useful should we decide to start our own business.)