- THE MAGAZINE
I’m a dreamer. Outside of the grace of almighty God and my phenomenal wife Denise, I live a phenomenal life because I spend a lot of time thinking and dreaming. I call it “intentional dreaming.” I’ve learned that if I don’t spend time working on my life instead of just living in it, that I won’t get where I want to go.
In his book Put Your Dream to the Test, John Maxwell says “a dream is an inspiring picture of the future that energizes your mind, will and emotion, causing you to do everything you can to achieve it.”
If your entire mind, will and emotion aren’t energized, you probably don’t have an inspiring picture. If you don’t have a compelling picture in your mind, you won’t take action.
You probably already know that I grew up on welfare. I arrived in Houston, TX at 18 years old with 25 cents in my pocket. I started out as a waiter. I started my carpet cleaning business with $3,000 in wedding money. I wasn’t good with money. I didn’t know anything about running a business and I made many mistakes - most of them more than once.
However, the key to moving from survival to stability and from stability to success and success to significance is a matter of focus. Praying, thinking, dreaming, planning, deciding and acting. It all starts with your phenomenal dream.
I take regular time to get in a creative, relaxed, inspirational environment to think, pray and dream. For me it’s the beach. My favorite place is Destin, FL. To finish my book The 5 Secrets of a Phenomenal Business, I spent four days on The Great Barrier Reef. I was in Australia doing small business training for the Ziglar Corporation and The Great Barrier Reef was on my “bucket list,” so I tacked on a few days there knowing it would be an inspirational place to write, and it was.
While there, I followed my normal dreaming routine: I get up early and write for a couple of hours (like I’m doing right now). Then I go out to the beach for awhile. After a swim, I sit down with a spiral notebook and begin to dream. There are no limitations. Simply allow your mind to drift. Your mind begins to associate ideas. This is called “free association.”
Visualize your life with no limitations. Zig Ziglar called this a “dream list.” Write down everything you want to be, do or have. Don’t allow any negative thinking. Don’t worry about not having enough money, or that it is too big of a dream. Let it flow!
Fifteen years ago I found my dream property - a gated community with only 14 home sites right next to my favorite beach in the Destin area. It’s next to 3.5 miles of unspoiled state park beach. I’ve never seen more than a handful of people on that beach over the years. The sand is sugar white with huge, magnificent dunes. The water is emerald green and crystal clear. It’s truly paradise.
When I discovered it in 1997, a single lot was $300K. At that time, we were just building our dream home in Houston and I had just launched Phenomenal Products. It was too much of a stretch. Over the next few years, the lots began to disappear and the prices began to soar. Before too long, there was only one lot left! The homes were $3.5 million minimum, which was way out of our range.
My goal became to acquire the only lot left and hold it until I was ready to build our next dream home. Unfortunately by this time, the lot itself had gone up to $1.4 million. Over a million dollars for a lot! But I was still dreaming and planning. My thoughts were recorded in my journal. I was thinking of ideas that would help me raise enough money for that lot.
I asked myself if that was too much to invest in a pile of sand. I had many mixed feelings. After a while, I determined that if I was willing to work hard and I continued to tithe and support the work of ministry that it was okay to pursue it as long as it did not take from anyone else. One of the blessings of the economic difficulties was that the price fell to a “reasonable” level and I put in an offer, which was accepted.
I was only given a three-day window to get my financing in order. We could have paid cash, but that meant cancelling mutual funds, etc. which would have meant big penalties. My Houston banker didn’t do Florida sand and the Destin banker dragged their feet, even though we easily qualified. Meanwhile, someone else put in an offer who had cash ready. Ugh! My beach that I dreamt about for 15 years was gone. I was completely disappointed.
The next day, I began forcing myself to be grateful for what I do have.
IMPORTANT LESSON: Be content with what you have, but never be content with your personal growth. Always be grateful for what you have, but always strive to become a better person every day. Remember, it’s not about the house, it’s not about the stuff, it’s about stretching your faith and your imagination to give you the experiences you need to help others.
When it comes to goals, sometimes you win by reaching the goal and other times you win by learning a valuable lesson. You reached a goal of becoming a better person. In the midst of this gratitude session, something amazing happened.
I had a thought – “it’s not over.”
Real estate deals go bad all the time. Although I was grateful for what I have today, I was not going to let my dream slip away because of circumstances. So, I contacted the real estate agent. “Listen, I know this other guy supposedly has cash. But real estate deals go south all the time” I told him. I continued, “I want to have my contract in play so that when this thing doesn’t work out with him, we can move forward with our deal.” He responded, “Well, this guy has cash and buys a lot of properties... I’m sure there won’t be a problem...” I insisted that he renew our contract as a backup.
I stayed on him for 10 days straight and sure enough, guess what? The other guy backed out and I got my dream property! The lesson I learned was to be grateful, content and patient, but never give up if it’s something you truly believe in, and you’re not 100% sure that God has shut the door. How would I have felt if I gave up, and found out later that the “cash guy” deal went south and someone else got my dream property?
I use this as an example because it’s a dream to me and everyone can relate to pursuing a goal like this. The point of a dream is to stretch you. I grew because of this experience. Now that I know what I can do, I am working on even bigger projects. Every time you get to the top of a mountain in any area of life - not just material things, but in relationships - when you see God give you a huge breakthrough in a relationship that everyone thought impossible, you see an even bigger mountain that you know you can climb.
It’s not what you get when you reach your goals, it’s what you become.
Do you have a phenomenal dream?