I had the privilege of speaking to a gang of creative women at the Inspire Collective event this week. In retrospect, I think when Inspire Collective founder Cate asked me to speak on sowing into people’s dreams, she was picturing something informal, just a couple of minutes, but I went and wrote a full 10-minute talk that contributed towards the event ending a lot later than planned. Classic. However, I loved collecting my thoughts (even if my delivery was awkward at times – public speaking is not one of my natural talents! Ha!) and some people seemed to get something out of it, so I thought I would sum it all up in a blog post today.
I had a funny, slightly awkward conversation earlier this week. As I’ve mentioned before (probably?) I work one day a week for my church. For the last few months we’ve had a young guy in doing work experience with our graphic designer, and Monday was his last day. We were saying our goodbyes and I asked him what the next step was. I wanted to know what he was building towards. He kind of shrugged, said he wasn’t really sure yet, but he wanted to eventually end up in hospitality somehow. And then he asked me, “How about you, Klara? What’s next for you?”
I mean that was my shining moment, right? I pour my heart into my blogs. I write thousands of words every week. I read eBooks and do online courses and pitch articles and run a bunch of social media accounts. I spend more waking hours with my blogs than I do with Chris.
But guess what I said.
“Oh, I’m a stay at home mum, so I’ll just be raising my kid. Maybe popping out another one. I keep the house running. That kind of stuff.”
And then one of my friends and colleagues, Matthew, piped up.
“That’s not all you do! You’re building how many empires these days?”
So that opened the conversation about the blogs and my writing, and the work experience guy was actually really interested. He asked a bunch of questions and we chatted for a while about it.
I felt really embarrassed when he finally left, because as confidently as I can say on this blog, “I’m a writer”, I don’t always believe it in real life.
But Matthew does.
He said the simplest little thing, and he probably didn’t even think about it to be honest. But in that moment, with those little encouraging words, he was sowing into my dream.
If someone is working towards their dream, it’s no accident. It hasn’t fallen into their lap. There’s a very specific set of circumstances that have aligned in order for them to have the courage and the means to chase their passion.
But can I just tell you, very few people who have ever had a dream have pulled it off alone. Don’t under-estimate the power of sowing into someone else’s dream. There are so many different things that you can give someone to help sow into their dream, so if you have a friend with a dream, guess what? You have a crucial role to play. And here’s how:
You can give encouragement and moral support
If someone opens their mouth and talks about their dream, they’re being extremely brave, so encourage them! Tell them it’s awesome that they’re working towards something. Tell them how impressed you are. A person with a dream is an excited person, so get excited with them. Happy dance when they achieve something. Gush. I am not above gushing when I’m proud of someone (it’s not pretty, but I bet they secretly love it.) If they hit a wall or a challenge, tell them you believe in them. I don’t think people encourage each other enough in life, I really don’t.
And did you know it’s encouraging just to ask questions and show interest in someone’s dream? If a friend confesses their dream to you, ask them about it. They might try to play it down, but to them it’s actually a big deal. So show some genuine interest. As someone with dreams of my own, I can tell you that it’s amazingly affirming when someone hears about your dream and they treat it as a real, tangible, interesting thing.
You can give advice
I have had a few people reach out to me with questions about blogging, and I have been thrilled every single time. I love to offer advice on blogging (I even post tips here on the blog occasionally); not because I’m an expert, but because I have picked up a few things along the way. And what’s the point of all that information just sitting in my own brain? I genuinely want to help people. You’ll find in any creative field that there are people willing to share their knowledge. Give advice. Be a mentor. Allow your own knowledge and experience to leverage someone else’s.
You can give a hand
Get your hands dirty, offer some elbow grease, ease the load. Giving someone your time to physically help them get stuff done when their dream is overwhelming them is massive. There’s always going to be grunt work, and a lot of it doesn’t require special skills; it just requires an extra set of hands. That might look like helping someone package their beautiful jewellery before their very first market, helping them lug equipment to a gig, pushing a trolley through the shops while they load it up with ingredients for a catering job… even baby sitting their kid if they have a massive to-do list and need to just get out of the house and get stuff done.
You can give stuff
I’m lucky that the most I really need for my dream is a functioning laptop, but a lot of dreams require a lot of stuff. How many of us have tried out several different dreams, or even just hobbies, that didn’t end up being quite the right fit? I don’t know about you, but over the years I’ve tried out a lot of things and my home is kind of a museum of half-baked dreams (believe me, that’s not as whimsical as it sounds!) It basically means I have a lot of stuff that I loved and enjoyed for a season, but is now filling up all my cupboards.
I’m sure I’m not the only person in this room with cupboards full of stuff like this. It’s clutter, right? The thing about that clutter is, in the right hands, it’s not clutter. It’s gold. It’s dream building stuff. Because for every creative venture I tried and gave up, there was someone else who stuck with it and who could really use that stuff.
I mentioned that all I need is a functioning laptop, and sadly my beloved $400 HP laptop is on its last legs. It dies randomly, it suddenly forgets how to connect to the internet, it freezes, and there’s this chunk of dirt rustling around under the keyboard which gets stuck under a letter for a few days, making me unable to press that letter, and then suddenly it moves and chooses a new letter. Chris is an IT guy, my hero every time it breaks down, and at this point nothing would make him happier than to throw it against a wall and set it on fire.
I was telling a friend (an awesome supporter of my writing) about my laptop woes a few weeks ago and without thinking she said to me, “Klara. I have a laptop that I haven’t touched in a year. It works perfectly but I just use my iPad now. It’s yours.” And within the hour she had been home, come back, and placed this perfectly functioning laptop in my hands. How humbling is that?! This laptop that wasn’t really serving her any more means the world to me. So I’m challenging myself (and you!) to look around at all that half-baked-dream clutter, and consider what kind of magic it would make in someone else’s hands.
There is someone in your life who can sow into your dreams. And there is someone in your life whose dreams you can sow into. So get on it!
PS If you’re a woman in Perth with a dream – get onto the Inspire Collective! Attending their events changed my mind-set and awakened my creative heart in extraordinary ways. The inspiration I have received and the connections I have made there have been an integral part of my journey. You owe it to yourself to at least check it out!