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The Dreams Of Other Men

Don't forget it.

I’ve had several discussions with people lately who have all wanted to talk about their aspirations and hopes.  Each of these people wanted different things, but there was a common factor among each of them:

They all wanted to be like someone else.  Sometimes they actually wanted to be someone else. “I want to do (insert achievement), like he did.” “I want to have (insert career and wealth), like she does.”  And so on. Nothing wrong with anything they said or wanted, but it made me a little sad.  Nobody was shooting for something that had never been done.  Nobody wanted to be the first at anything.

There are things we can and should add to the world. Positivity, kindness…we can’t have too much of that stuff.  No downside to duplicating those efforts!

But there are things only I can offer this world, because there is only one of me.  There are things that only you can offer this world, because there is only one of you.

Why not find out what only you can offer?  We all emulate and aspire to the qualities or possessions or successes of our heroes, but these goals and hopes should never take precedence over what each one of us can give that nobody else can.

I don’t know what all of those things are for me, but I know this:

I will not dream the dreams of other men.  I have my own.

If your gifts remain undiscovered, you do a disservice to yourself and anyone else who could benefit from you being you.

Don’t try to be anyone else.  You are not anyone else.  That is a good thing, whether you believe it or not.


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photo credit: laffy4k

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Carrie @ Make Mine Happen January 17, 2010, 6:16 am

    Beautifully stated! This is my main motivation at present. We can seek motivators, but we should not aspire to BE the very people we got our motivation from. Put a personal edge onto what you strive for and make it all your own. That is the beauty of our experiences being different! We can infuse those into our dreams.

    • Josh Hanagarne January 17, 2010, 11:56 am

      Right. I have more motivators than I can count, but they’re more of a support group and a reminder than a goal to march towards.

  • Tatiana January 17, 2010, 6:23 am

    wonderful post. Just awesome. Thank you.

  • avil.beckford@ambeck.com January 17, 2010, 7:07 am


    I understand your sadness. We live in a me-too culture where many subscribe to the herd mentality, but I suspect that there are many who are blazing trail and doing something that hasn’t been done before. They are taking action instead of talking about it.

    I am finding it hard because some of the things that I am doing have never been done before, or done in the way that I am trying to do it, so there is a lot of trial and error, which is frustrating, but it’s the way we make progress.

    I have plans for my blog The Invisible Mentor http://theinvisiblementor.com and it is slow to execute all that I want to do. That’s okay because I make progress every day. The invisible mentor concept isn’t new, but with new internet and online technologies I am expanding the concept. As coined by Washington State University Professor Karen L. Peterson, an invisible mentor is a unique leader you can learn from by observing them from a distance. With the internet and search engines you can find so much information about others, so it’s easy to expand the concept to include speeches and presentations give by these leaders, books they have written and so on.

    Do not feel sadness, there are many of us trying to chart our own path, you simply do not know us. But thanks for raising the issue, it shows that you care. And I care that you care.

    Avil Beckford

    • Josh Hanagarne January 17, 2010, 11:58 am

      That sounds like a really cool project, and don’t worry, I haven’t gotten all pessimistic about this. I know it’s not everyone. Maybe it’s not even most people. But I had four conversations within the space of about two hours and the thread was undeniable that day.

  • Conor January 17, 2010, 7:16 am

    Hey Josh,

    Well said sir 🙂

    That’s a great note to start my day on!


    • Josh Hanagarne January 17, 2010, 11:59 am

      Great! That’s much better than hearing that I’ve ruined someone’s day from minute one.

  • Christa Avampato January 17, 2010, 7:47 am

    Love this post, Josh. So often people look to others to emulate. This causes them to cheat themselves and cheat the rest of the world to. Now more than ever, we all need one another’s unique gifts.

    • Josh Hanagarne January 17, 2010, 11:59 am

      Emulation can be a path to progress, but the emulation should eventually fade to the periphery as we figure out who we are. Copycat can’t last forever.

  • Hayden Tompkins January 17, 2010, 8:28 am

    Thanks for this, Josh. I definitely needed this today!

    I have several paths open to me, but only one is a path that involves breaking the mold.

    • Josh Hanagarne January 17, 2010, 12:00 pm

      Hayden, I know one of the paths you’re on, and your goals will benefit many, many more people than you will ever be able to predict.

  • Julianne Fuchs-Musgrave January 17, 2010, 9:30 am

    What incredible kindness. To be told that we are uniquely important is a gift not all of us have been given, and therefore struggle to grasp as a truth. And even when we do are still frozen by the death-rattling fears of “not enough.”

    Learning to accept and truly believe in the “who” each of us is can be daunting enough to hide behind another’s persona/achievement/experience.

    I think then, the more we can validate, celebrate, support each other–the more we secure and able to create we all will be.

    Good one!

    • Josh Hanagarne January 17, 2010, 12:01 pm

      “Not enough” can be a great thing. Knowing that I could be more is one of the reasons I’m excited to spend each day figuring things out and getting things done. “Enough” sounds boring to me.

  • Dawn Riccardi Morris January 17, 2010, 9:54 am

    Great post! I can really relate to it because I’m currently trying to reinvent myself after trying to play by other people’s rules for way too long. It’s not easy to do so unless you really take a deep look inside of yourself.

    My feeling is that people tend to measure their worth by comparing themselves to others; but true success comes only from challenging ourselves to be the best we can be. We can’t all be great at the same things, but we can all be great at something. It’s up to each of us to discover what that something is.

    Thanks for a beautifully written and thought-provoking post. I’d like to leave you with a quote by a popular children’s author:

    From now on, I’ll connect the dots my own way. ~Bill Watterson, Calvin & Hobbes

  • Boris Bachmann January 17, 2010, 10:26 am

    I want to be like you Josh.

    In all seriousness, nice post. Be the first.

    • Josh Hanagarne January 17, 2010, 12:02 pm

      Boris, you’re too zen. If you could see the antsy trainwreck much of my life is, you’d take that back.

  • Todd January 17, 2010, 10:34 am

    Great post, Josh.

    “Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are.” – Kurt Cobain

    • Josh Hanagarne January 17, 2010, 12:03 pm

      Good old Kurt. While I’m hesitant to take much personal development advice from him, he’s got that one absolutely right.

  • Michele | aka Raw Juice Girl January 17, 2010, 11:39 am

    This is so beautiful – and true – Josh!

    I especially love this: If your gifts remain undiscovered, you do a disservice to yourself and anyone else who could benefit from you being you.

    We should follow our own hearts, dreams, aspirations…

    You’re a wise man, my friend.

    And… I know I haven’t stopped by to comment lately, but I have been taking note of your mentions of your health. You’ve been in my heart and prayers. I admire you for living with a positive attitude and sharing your wisdom.

    You’re the bestest!!!


    P.S. And I haven’t forgotten about that guest post either. I’ve just been swamped. I’ll send one your way as soon as I can – if the offer still stands, that is. 😉

  • paulandrewrussell January 17, 2010, 11:49 am

    Hi Josh,

    A very interesting and thought provoking post.
    I’ve never wanted to be anyone else but I have always wanted to be successful at something, for personal reasons, (abusive parents). I guess I still wonder whether they were right or not, telling me I was stupid, and I’d like to prove them wrong. Is that the wrong kind of motivation? I don’t know.

    • Josh Hanagarne January 17, 2010, 12:04 pm

      I don’t think so, but I haven’t been through what you have. I do know that they were wrong. You’re obviously a genius if you’re reading this blog.

      • paulandrewrussell January 17, 2010, 5:42 pm

        lol, I love that reply Josh. You made me laugh out aloud, thanks. 🙂

  • Lori January 17, 2010, 1:58 pm

    I think this is why I loved being a scientist so much – there are certain things that I was the first to see, define, and understand.

    It was such an unique experience – like no other.

    Lately I’ve been viewing myself as my own experiment. What can I make out of me?

    I enjoyed this post, strong man.

    • Josh Hanagarne January 17, 2010, 2:34 pm

      Lori, climb out of your petri dish and have a cookie. You deserve it.

  • Jeanne Dininni January 17, 2010, 2:25 pm


    What a beautiful — and inspirational — post! Encouraging people to discover their own unique talents so they can contribute to the world what no one else can is a fabulous way of making the world a better place while helping others find real fulfillment in the dreams and goals they choose to pursue. Thanks for reminding us that we don’t have to settle for second best but can actually accomplish the things that we were meant to! People need to hear that!

    Best wishes,

    • Josh Hanagarne January 17, 2010, 2:37 pm

      Thanks Jeanne. By the way, your post on Grow Through Life was fantastic.

  • Jeanne Dininni January 17, 2010, 3:01 pm

    Thanks, Josh! Glad you liked it.

  • Kimberly January 17, 2010, 4:59 pm

    There is a great discussion on this very topic in Gary Vaynerchuk’s book, “Crush It.” Everyones DNA is different. Rely on your authenticity and your own DNA to pursue your passion and create your own personal brand. In other words, be yourself! It’s the best and easiest way to create true happiness in your life. Like he says, when you’re thinking about your personal brand, don’t worry that it will have to look like anyone else’s in order for you to crush it. You’ll crush it as long as you focus on being yourself.

    Now that pretty much all parts of my own life are in concert with my dreams and passions, and I feel authentic daily, I am much, much happier!

    The bottom line is, everyone has something unique and beautiful to bring to the table. So why waste time trying to be like someone else?

  • Archan Mehta January 17, 2010, 7:02 pm


    This is a great post and a timely reminder of human potential.

    Pioneers have always blazed their own trail despite norms.
    Steven Spielberg did not want to attend college and become a doctor, lawyer, engineer, MBA, chartered account just like everybody else. No, Spielberg had an unique gift and knew it.
    Today, Spielberg is famous and wealthy and his contributions to the world of entertainment are too numerous to mention.

    Similarly, it took a “weirdo” like Steve Jobbs to invent our personal computer in a garage in Palo Alto, CA. At that time, Jobbs was impoverished and a college drop-out, but he had a dream which he pursued despite the odds. The rest is history: we would not be interacting here without the PC!

    Conformity and creativity seldom go hand in hand. Creative breakthroughs can only be achieved (sometimes) if you are perceived to be a little eccentric or strange by other people.
    Albert Einstein did not want to copy other people and join the crowd. Einstein was too involved in his own ideas to care

  • Srinivas Rao January 17, 2010, 7:06 pm

    Well said Josh. Growing up in the community that I have, it’s often hard to not want to be like the doctors, lawyers, and engineers that everybody in our community seems to hold in such high regard. If you told somebody you wanted to be an artist or musician they would look down upon you. But, when we learn to live our own dreams that’s when we live up to our fullest potential.

  • Pauline January 17, 2010, 8:37 pm

    Josh, check out Daisy’s way of doing something special by being herself at http://compostermom.blogspot.com/
    I think she is on the right track. I know she reads you regularly!

  • Laura Cococcia January 18, 2010, 8:07 am

    Great food for thought, Josh. I definitely have my mentors and people I feel have inspired me. I draw from them for ideas, certainly. But as time has gone on, I’ve found more of my own voice and path…it can be a process, but hope that by engaging with others, we’re all helping each other find our true selves.

  • Yusuf Clack January 18, 2010, 1:01 pm


    Excellent reminder. The accomplishments of others help us see what is possible and help start the dream. However, each of us in building on others’ accomplishments, need to know that we have our own “special sauce” to add. The way we build that dream will be an expression of ourselves. I wonder if it is possible to truly consider something a “dream” if it is simply a copy of another’s path. To me, a dream requires ownership. It is not really a dream until you’ve visualized doing it yourself, bringing your life experiences, creative touches, and personality to it.


  • Elizabeth January 19, 2010, 8:38 pm

    “I will not dream the dreams of other men. I have my own.”

    Wow. Awesome post and the line I pasted in here is probably my favorite of the whole thing.

    Amazing post – thank you for showing us yourself and sharing your insights and everything else that makes you you.