"Both business and life should be an adventure."
Who among us hasn’t imagined sailing around the world? It was a long held dream of Jeremy Cage, a business consultant and former international consumer goods industry executive. After many years of planning, he a set off with his wife and two children for a fabulous year of adventure and learning.
In All Dreams on Deck, Cage inspires us to be more deliberate about dreams in our lives and organizations. All individuals and businesses could benefit from seeing their lives and work as an adventure. We can do this by dreaming more specifically, steadily increasing our intentionality about our dreams, and planning and preparing for our dreams more thoroughly. His sailing expedition and experiences advising businesses provide great cases for what can be achieved through dreams. The result is a practical roadmap for bringing dreams to life.
"One of the most fundamental reasons that so many people and businesses will die full of potential is that we dream all wrong."
Cage believes in living a highly intentional life, both as individuals and organizations. This involves using dreams as the starting point for all aspects of our lives.
He urges us to dream better, as so many dreams go unrealized. The first part of dreaming better is to dream specifically, in each area of your life. Using the image of grab bags in a lifeboat, name each bag by the essential areas of your life. Choose six to eight categories, rather than just “work” and “life”. Cage’s are work, family, friends, faith, fitness/sports, finances, philanthropy, and spirit.
This way of thinking about your life and dreams reflects your true nature and needs. It’s the key to living life to your full potential, since it allows you make all decisions from the context of your “whole life”. Thinking about our life as having many sources of fulfillment, rather than just “work” and “life”, means that when something goes wrong in one area, the others can buoy us up.
Designing dreams that you can clearly articulate gives you a structure for living—a life plan. Often, we cram so much of the little stuff into our lives that there’s no room left for the important stuff. We have to prioritize, protect, and nurture our dreams so that they’ll grow, or else we’ll fail to reach our potential.
Vague dreams result in obstacles, fears, and dreads that paralyze us. Many people who get fired aren’t in work that aligns with their dreams. And the 90% of new businesses that fail usually haven’t kept focused enough on their dream.
Increase your intentionality
"Being highly intentional about your dreams means you will behave differently tomorrow than you did yesterday."
People don’t just naturally realize more of their potential the longer they live, Cage believes. That depends on the action you take to realize your dreams. So after outlining your dreams in detail, increase your intentionality in stages. The “ladder of intentionality” is how dreams start to go from being theoretical to being real.
The four steps on the ladder of intentionality are:
- Think about it
- Write it down
- Declare it out loud
- Get others talking about it
As successful leaders know, effectively communicating the dream of the company or movement is the critical first step in achieving your goals. Unfortunately though, many leaders have never learned how to do this and they focus on boring objectives instead. Large organizations are losing out to smaller, quicker and more adventurous companies who are laser focused on their dream.
Cage sat down with his wife soon after they got married to start planning their dreams. The more they talked about sailing around the world, the more things started to fall into place. They joined an online community and connected with a group of boats that would be crossing the ocean at the same time as them, which took them to next level of dream actualization—planning and preparing.
Plan and prepare
"Real planning and real preparation simply don’t happen often enough or are not undertaken with enough depth."
Realizing our dreams in lives and businesses is mostly about execution, rather than just determining the vision. Whether it’s sailing around the world, winning an Olympic medal, renovating a house, or developing a new product, you have to know the plan and be well trained to realize the vision.
Big dreams can take many years to bring into being and even smaller dreams need some kind of plan to be brought to life. In the years leading up to their journey, Cage and his family took advanced courses in radio communication, marine medicine, navigation, and mechanics. They researched all the homeschooling options for the kids. After much consideration, they picked a catamaran as their ideal vessel and had it built. And he got his manager and colleagues on board to help make it possible to take a leave of absence, years before they were scheduled to leave.
In Cage’s experience, the more prepared you are, the more you’re able to trust yourself to live out a dream. If you develop your knowledge to the point where you’re considered an expert, you’re less likely to turn back in the face of adversity.
Do you have enough adventure in your life and work? Do you feel as though you’re living life to your fullest potential? Try navigating your future by dreaming specifically, intentionally, and taking the time to plan with a purpose.