Dream Small

We were sitting on a plane flying on our honeymoon to Hawaii. I was a century of pages deep in a Malcolm Gladwell book when Jen nudged me on the shoulder. I thought she might be changing her guarantee of a Nigeria vs. Chile World Cup final when she pointed to a section of an article she was reading about this group of guys in Maui who grow, raise, and sell taro chips. The quote she was was pointing at went something like this: “We have been very successful with our business and have grown enough to expand our market. However, we are dreaming small, we are keeping our business under control, and providing very quality products to our customers.” Note: I think I wrote that “paraphrase” as if the guy was Asian, not Hawaiian. Go back and read it with an Asian accent in your head and try to not laugh.

Anyway, we aren’t here to dissect native dialects. The point is this: this guy passed up more money and greater glory because he’s always dreamed small. I could barely believe I was reading the words he was saying. It was borderline heretical to everything I’d ever been taught, everything I’d ever believed. Here was this Hawaiian farmer raising cane and spitting a blasphemous theory that flies in the face of the teachings of all the great leaders and wondrous inspirational figures we’ve ever known. The craziest part was that it kind of started making sense to me.

We have these friends who live in Perry, OK, population 5,230 (not including cows). They own and manage a cleverly named coffee shop and just started a church there. I haven’t discussed it with them in-depth but I don’t think they have any aspirations of taking down Starbucks VIA an Oklahoma-based-breakfast-serving-church-gathering coffee shop. And I think if you were to ask them that’s probably not what they want either.

I enjoy pretty simple things. I love to write. I like to throw the baseball. I enjoy books. I’m fascinated by small businesses. I’ve fallen for the state of Georgia. My life is not some grand melodrama played out on a bright stage in front of the whole world. I love my wife. I like to take trips. I want a dog. And I’ve started dreaming small. I’m beginning to understand that life is not meant to be lived boisterously. It’s meant to be lived by doing that one thing you were put on Earth to do, and to do it well.

I want to encourage those of you who have been so faithful in reading this blog. Stop dreaming dreams that would make Rupert Murdoch blush. Dream small and carry those dreams out. Dream well and perform masterfully. Be faithful with the one or two things God has imparted upon you that you do better than anyone else.

At my wedding I had a short conversation with my high school baseball coach about what he was up to, where he was working, how he was doing. Last I had heard he was employed at a corporate tree-trimming company. He stared at me after I asked him what he was doing as if I should already know: “I just took another head coaching job in Houston, Kyle. I was put on Earth to coach baseball so I guess that’s what I have to do.” There was a shade of sarcasm in his voice as if he was laughing on the inside at the very notion that he had even tried to have a different job. He could coach anywhere in the country, at any level. But he chooses high school because he dreams small, lest anyone scoff at the notion that his dreams not be adequate with the cultural norm. Never have I had so great a non-related influence on my life. He taught me the great devotions and the great enthusiasms. Because he dreamed small I learned to know both victory and defeat.

Dream on.

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