Dreaming. Real? Imagined? Are our dreams important enough to pay attention to? Are they reflections of truth or want? Or maybe need? Or all of the above? My conversation with Nathan Keisler of the Dream Institute may hold the answers!
What kind of work are you involved with and how did you get started?
I am a speaker, a coach, and co-founder of the Dream Leader Institute. We chose to be an Institute for the purpose of studying life and helping others redefine what life can be, helping individuals to be the greatest version of themselves. We have set out to change the relationship between any organization and its employees. We want to be like the Mother Theresa’s in the marketplace, giving love and asking a business to love their employees. We believe if an organization will be a part of helping each person win in life, they will win in any task or project. People deserve to be encouraged, equipped to be lifted up in life.
I got started in this work back in my younger years at university when my wife and I wanted to change the world. We thought we would encourage, teach, put our hands to hard work to help communities thrive. We had a lot of education and knowledge but very little wisdom. After working in community development overseas, living in multiple countries, training those whose lives we have tried to help, I have been able to evaluate what it means to live a satisfying and thriving life. Most importantly, it follows the way life is defined and described by God. God has defined life as the way it works and the way it does not. So it is not God who is against us. We will find that we are the most common denominator, working against ourselves in actual fact, wanting life on our own terms, seeing life though a lens we have created.
Why do “dreams” play such a big role in growth, especially long term change?
First, I want to define a dream as something to which we aspire, a vision of a life-giving result according to the path we set for ourselves. This is something that is true, noble right, worthy, good, lovely, or beautiful. If it has an angle of shame, guilt, or criticism, this dream will fade or lead to a falsely satisfying result. These fading dreams are short term, temporary. Motivation to overcome a negative, a weakness, or a bad habit only serves to reinforce that which is already bent, a distorted vision. I know this from personal experience.
Those dreams that transform life will carry the heart, the truth to which we desire to stay on the journey towards wholeness and healing. An amazing buy-product of walking towards these dreams will be the benefit and blessing it becomes to all those around us. This becomes a positive motivation for ourselves and from others along the way. In reality, people can and do change. An individual can literally transform in front of your very eyes. It takes a dream, something we barely believe in sometimes, to take those first steps. When we see ourselves transform into something beautiful, a person of love and compassion, it simply reinforces the heart to keep going.
What do our deepest dreams have to do with our faith in God?
We are made in the image of God. Each of us represent a glimpse of God, an aspect of who He is. This means our identity in Christ carries a LOT of similarities for us, like having a body, soul and spirit. This means we also carry similarities when it comes to our deepest dreams in life. For example, one dream we all have is to be truly loved and accepted for who we are. We need someone else to answer this for us, though we need to be able to love and accept ourselves as well. We also want to know that our lives have meaning and value. This can become a lifelong search it is such a powerful dream. It is also tragically why some end their life when this dream is not answered.
But it is the subtle differences that bring to life the incommensurable colors of dreams all around us. We know some general dreams like “I want to be an artist, a chef, a successful businessman”. But what kind, what for, and how will it be uniquely you?
This is where our faith in God becomes tangible. Our dreams tell us something of God and about who He is. He plants the most beautiful view of the future in our hearts, each according to how he made us and designed a plan that will reveal his glory to the world. It might be a dream to save an endangered species, to create a clean environment, meet the needs of homeless, build a successful business to create economic health for your family and those who work for you, healing for the hurting, a beautiful painting to admire or an inspiring song to carry us to emotional heights of joy and celebration.
There is a company called Gallup. They have developed a personal development tool we use at DLI. Its called the StrengthsFinder test. StrengthsFinder has this staggering statistic. The chance for someone else in the world to have the same top five strengths you find out you have in this test , and in the same order, is 1 in 33 million. This is amazing and humbling. Truly, we are all more than just “1 in a million’.
When we come to know ourselves, more and more, each small degree, we dive into the deepest dreams we have. These are both the similar dreams we share with our fellow humanity and those specific to us, the ones that cause us to shine. This in turn shows us more about God, what He has put in us. Gaining clarity through our dreams and those around us gives us a picture of who God is. When we learn more about even one other person, we have the chance to see God in that person. Sometimes it harder to see than in others. But that image is there. His Spirit is always revealing more about God and where God is working. He is working to show people their dreams, because they are His own as well.
What is the connection between dreams and personality?
God would not give us dreams without the personality to accomplish them. We use both a personality test and the strengthsfinder test at the institute when we coach teams and individuals. They are key to seeing deeper into ourselves. I believe it is the lens with which we see the world through. An artist inspires because they show the world how they see different things. Others do this as well, an engineer that builds or a chef that cooks, they all see through their own lens, their own perspective. God has given each a lens so that one day, we will “see” our dreams and we will see how to reach them as well. This informs our decisions and our actions. But they also shape our dreams. There will be an extraordinary beauty and rare treasure to be found in the way a dream can and will be accomplished by a single individual. Even more wondrous can be the accomplishment of a dream brought about by a group of people, each bringing their own perspective and abilities to the table, establishing a multifaceted, and colorful creation.
The path towards even one dream is a journey, it can also be a dance. Our personality and strengths determine what and how steps will be taken. This journey gives back but also asks something of us. It gives back by providing the opportunity for us to shine, but it asks us to rise to the challenge, again and again. Will we surrender to the greatness of God that He has placed within us and what God desires to draw out of us as well? It was Nelson Mandela who said, “As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” For God will ultimately get the glory since it is in His image we are made, an image we are revealing to the world.
What is the first step I would recommend to a reader?
First step. Start dreaming and write them down. Write down as many as you can, and as many different kinds as well. I think you will find this more difficult than you realize. We like to think we have dreams but most people do not practice them. Fewer even write them down. It is said that less than 1% of people pursue them. This is Amazing and heartbreaking too. This means the vast majority of people are not pursuing the dreams that God has placed within them, most never even searching to find out what they are. After you go as far as you can, take a step back and look at them. What do your dreams look like? What does it tell you about yourself? If you’re brave enough, show them to someone else and ask what they think about your dreams. Ok that’s a second step, but you get the picture.
At the institute, our first exercise we take individuals or teams through is called the “Awakening Drill”. It is fun, it’s funny, it’s challenging, and it can kick you in the butt by the end. Its designed to wake you up, out of the usual stupor and open your eyes. This is our desire at DLI, to wake people up and help them live.
Dreams are cheered on, held in high esteem, and imagined with winsome attitude but it also appears to be one of the rarest gems in life. – Nathan
Below are 2 poems I reflect on as I continue to help others find and journey towards their dreams as well.
By River DREAM FULFILLED, DREAM VANISHED
A dream dreamt for a millennium… Everyday oozing away as I badgered and prayed …For one splendiferous day…To feel limitless and ecstatic in my cranium.
Suddenly, my dream came to fruition…All this time was worth the anticipation…My brittle bones became strong through elation…My every cell frenetic with love’s constitution.
The dream fulfilled…Vanished… without warning…Soaking my heart in distrust and mourning…Creating in the center of my mind an emptiness so still.
By: unknown A DREAM FULFILLED
What happens to a dream fulfilled? Does it soar into the sky? And hang there like a cloud? Or does it flitter into a heart -Where it stays alive and never parts? Perhaps it emerges in someone’s smile -And flourishes mile to mile. Or maybe it lingers in the light.After all, you achieved it -With all your might.
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