If you’ve been around here for any length of time, you know that I’m a big fan of dreams. I believe that God gives us all glimpses of what could be and invites us to pursue the dreams He’s planted in our hearts. The awesome part is that all of us have different dreams.
Over the past few months, Jason & I have had the opportunity to help a friend begin to pursue a dream. Seeing someone else’s dream take flight is simply amazing. Watching God place the pieces in just the right places at just the right times takes my breath away and helps me realize once again how much He truly wants the best for each of us.
We certainly didn’t do things perfectly, but we learned a few things through our experience. Here are six tips to help you help your friends pursue their dreams.
1. Ask questions that are outside of the box.
When we first started talking with our friend about possibly building a business, we assumed that he would want to build it in the same field that he’s currently working in. We started throwing out ideas and questions that were related to his current field. He was willing to try some, but there wasn’t a spark of passion in any of the conversations.
We suggested that he read Dan Miller’s 48 Days to the Work You Love to try to nail down what he really loved to do. Then we started asking different questions. What do you really LOVE to do? What do you enjoy so much that you lose all track of time? How could that be molded into a business?
Those questions and the discussion that followed opened up a whole new set of possibilities. Our discussion took a hard right turn and headed in the right direction.
2. Offer to be a sounding board.
When someone is trying something new, they often need someone to just bounce ideas off of. Being someone who will listen and give honest feedback is a powerful way to help your friend navigate all of the ideas that start flowing. We found that tossing an idea back and forth led to another idea and another and another, until something workable emerged. And let’s face it… Everyone needs someone to answer the “Does this sound crazy to you?” question from time to time.
3. Invest the time.
We’re all busy. Finding the time to help someone else pursue a dream may sound like something you don’t have time for. But if it’s the right friend, the time you spend helping them is invigorating. I would come away from talks and email conversations with our friend only to find myself challenged to refine my own dreams. In fact, I often found that I needed to take the exact advice that I just gave our friend. The whole process has made me reevaluate what I’m doing and where I want to be. Not only am I investing in a precious friend, but I’m gaining new perspective for myself.
4. Encourage without being pushy.
This is where my OCD personality needs reigned in. 🙂 When I see something amazing on the horizon, I want everyone to drop everything and chase it rightnowthisveryminute! While encouraging someone to keep on keepin’ on is a good thing, pushing them to do it too quickly (a.k.a. on my timetable) is destructive. I’m learning that everyone gets comfortable with new ideas in their own time, and faster isn’t always better.
In this case, the timing has been perfect. Our friend has had time to refine his vision for his new endeavor and take steps toward the place he wants to be. I’ve tried to find the fine line between cheering him on and pushing him over the edge.
5. Be genuine.
Offering fake encouragement doesn’t do anyone any good. If a friend is asking for your opinion, they’re trusting you enough to deserve honesty. If you see a potential pitfall, point it out. We’ve done our best to offer honest, heartfelt feedback throughout our friend’s startup process.
6. Celebrate often.
As we’ve walked alongside our friend, we’ve celebrated the small victories along the way. I’m not talking punch-and-cake party celebrations (though those might be fun too!). I’m simply talking about recognizing new steps that are taken, challenges that are overcome, and goals that are met. Celebrating the milestones along the way makes it that much more fun.
Keep your eyes and ears open for friends who might be starting to catch the vision for a dream God’s given them. Then grab their hand and walk alongside them, cheering them on along the way.