Martin Luther King had a dream, but somehow I doubt that early in the process he had any idea of the magnitude of his ability to change the country and even the world. That’s the problem with our dreams: they are bounded by our ability to imagine them and they only come true if they come from an authentic desire.
There’s no question in my mind that MLK’s dream was an authentic passion that came from his sincere desire to improve the world based on his unique perspective, talents and vision. For example, have you had dreams and desires that, no matter how hard you struggled to achieve, did not seem to materialize? ‘I want to be a rich doctor’ is not an authentic desire. It has to do with achieving a superficial level of status as opposed to an authentic desire to contribute something meaningful to the world.
Identifying your authentic desire is a powerful exercise, not only to give yourself something to work toward and focus on, but also in terms of changing your view of the world. Once you identify your purpose, the opportunities and invitations that have been present your whole life but that have gone unnoticed suddenly become like an irresistible beacon to engage with your passion. Those invitations are everywhere; simply being open to their presence and being willing to pursue their call can change your trajectory toward realization of your authentic desire. The path to achieving your desire may be very convoluted, which means that planning it out in advance may be somewhat of a futile exercise and could even impair your ability to notice subtle invitations that are in line with your authentic desire but out of synch with your preconceptions or plans.
“Man plans and God laughs.” – Yiddish proverb
To follow your authentic path requires a willingness to be spontaneous and go with the flow. Confucious, Daoism and Czikszentimhayli, a leader in positive psychology, speak to this importance of this spontaneity in the pursuit of one’s authentic goals. Joseph Campbell, comparative mythologist extraordinaire describes this as being willing to “follow your bliss.” In other words, let your passion take you where it will. The outcome is likely to be greater than you can even imagine, so don’t restrict your potential by the limits of your imagination.
On this MLK Day, honor Dr. King’s dream by honoring and embracing your own. Who knows? Maybe you’ll end up changing the world too.