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Thought Leaders Unpacked -> The Soul of a Leader #3: Daring to Dream

thought-leaders“While many people think of reality as the enemy of dreaming, in fact, hard-headed reality must ground dreaming.” (p. 53)

I‘ve long struggled with the tendency of dreamers to begin their process with tidy utopian ideals disconnected from the complex and messy realities of human frailty and inevitable systemic dysfunctions.

The approach, (while the bread and butter of political campaigns,) is naive. Noble maybe some of the time… naive all of the time.

The implementation of utopian ideals cannot help but be as messy and broken as the people and systems that embody them.

While other thinkers have observed the importance of beginning the dream with a frank assessment of one’s presenting realities (e.g. Peter Senge, The Fifth Discipline), core to the Christian worldview is the possibility that such honesty need never be the end of the story. Problems are never a death sentence, fate, or doom. They are simply facts.

As mere facts, they can be brought out into the light and examined. Turned over and over and looked at from a variety of angles. Underlying causes can be explored. Complicating circumstances, personalities, and effects can be examined.

No matter how disastrous, disappointing or desperate the results of our assessment might be, there is always a way forward, a next step, or a new possibility in a post-resurrection world.

Which brings us to Benefiel’s second part of the dream process… hope.

Hope, “requires deep faith in a reality other than the one seen with human eyes.” (p. 55)

Not all leaders have grounds for their hope. Many are sustained only by their own passion, aspirations or needs. But the “soulful leader” has come to understand that there is “a reality other than the one seen with human eyes.” A reality substantiated (or at least powerfully suggested) by the resurrection of the first century Nazarene, Jesus.

A new reality has broken in. The reality where honest assessment of reality is met with grace and forgiveness. A new reality where unexpected redemptive possibilities for re-creating the future are possible.

Now we’re ready to dream. Grounded in reality, inspired by possibilities, we can envision, design and construct viable, workable, and relevant new realities. Instead of utopian ideals which always remain just out of reach, we will create the next set of messy, complicated realities. But they will be possibilities that actually take form, solve problems and improve people’s lives.

I’m with Benefiel on this one… Dare to dream.

Is there a dream you need to rekindle, reevaluate or approach differently? What was your main take-away from this chapter?

Each week I post my reflections from one chapter of The Soul of a Leader by Margaret Benefiel. My reflections are my own and are intended to generate conversation, catalyze additional thinking and encourage mutual learning.
If you are just joining the discussion now, welcome! Catch up on the entire series here.


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