Dreams Are Not Reality Until You Make Them Come True

by Alli Polin on March 21, 2014

The secret to success: Hard Work Makes Dreams Come True

The dream was so vivid.  There I was, rollerblading through my neighborhood and I was really, really good.  What  struck me about the dream was how I was in flow, rollerblading was easy and what I was meant to be doing.  I could feel the joy, the wind and the confidence I had with every turn.  The dream was calling to me and shining a light on something I knew in my heart I was meant to do.  Flash forward: I bought the skates.

My first day out on the skates it was no less than 95 degrees outside. I popped out of my house ready to soar and began to plug up the hill, to get to a local school, to skate on the blacktop.  It was hard, I was sweating and going downhill on my return was a lot less like a dream and more like a nightmare.

I did go for a spin one other time but my confidence was more like a limp, popped balloon and I stayed even closer to home.  After round two, the roller blades went back in the box, into the garage not to be seen again for a few years until I donated them to the Salvation Army.

Clearly,  I wasn’t willing to put in the effort to make my dream of being a world class rollerblader a reality.  I thought it was going to be easy because in my mind I thought “how hard can it be?”  The truth is, very 

Question: What’s standing in between this moment and what you most want to create?
Answer: Hard work.


Here are three truths to embrace and make the leap from dream to success. 

Resilience takes courage.

I fell approximately a million times the first time I went rollerblading and I got up every time.  Still, my courage was beaten down with every fall and the next time I didn’t push myself as hard; I wasn’t willing to fall as often.  My dream did not call forth my resilience to play, it invited only my ego that thought it would be easy.

In it’s simplest form, resilience is a willingness to get back up when you fall down and keep on moving forward.  If you truly want to make your dream your reality, you need to break the frame of fear that keeps you playing small.  Let go of the thought that it’s too hard or it would be easier for someone else and get used to calling on your courage daily.

Nobody’s a natural.

We all see those people that apparently were an overnight success.  If you’re like me, even for a moment you probably think about how crazy hard you’re working and wonder how they skyrocketed to the top.  What secret did they have that you’re missing?  While some will have you believe that it was simply “right place, right time,” it’s not the case for most people.  If you look to the top of any industry, I guarantee you that those people worked incredibly hard to hone their craft, build relationships and make a positive impact.

If you’re just starting out or are in the middle of your leadership, small business or entrepreneurial journey, don’t compare where you’re sitting to anyone else’s seat on the train.  Use every opportunity to learn, practice and grow your skills and eventually people will look at you like you’re a natural too.

If the dream matters, work transforms. 

When you uncover the spark of why the dream matters, how it connects to your purpose, it ultimately lights a fire within you.  I wanted to rollerblade because it looked like a cool, fun way to exercise and dreamt I’d be a natural.  Beyond the money I put into pads and skates, the dream didn’t matter all that much.  Once I was in the throes of it, I could see the extreme effort and work it was going to take to get proficient, let alone good or (gasp) great. I dropped that dream like a hot potato.

Conversely, my client had the dream of revolutionizing her industry and she is willing to work tirelessly until she achieves her goals.  Her dream, tied deeply to her passion, brings her joy, fulfillment and a sense of purpose.  She was able to break the frame that the path to success will only be frustration-filled and leap into purpose-driven action.

What’s your dream?  What are you willing to do to make it come true?

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

victory johnson March 21, 2014 at 6:29 am

Most tyms we tend to work more leaving our dreams untapped. Esp we the africans. Here life is all about survival rather than living out your dreams, the only way to fulfil dt shld be courage from with.your experience alone is an eye opener. Thks


Alli Polin March 21, 2014 at 7:50 am

Thank you, Victory, for sharing your experience. I think across the world there are more people that leave their dreams untapped instead of finding the courage to fulfill them. More importantly survival is clearly paramount to everything.




Terri Klass March 21, 2014 at 7:49 am

I have always wrestled with whether it is better to follow a career that involves our natural strengths or one that we really are fascinated with which may draw on less of my talents.

Your post nailed the point that if we are willing to work hard, we can master many dreams and therefore should not be afraid of tackling them. For me, speaking in front of people has been way easier than writing weekly articles. Yet, committing myself to having fun with my writing and staying focused with ideas that speak to me, I have transformed my attitude and feelings about not being in front of others when they read my stories.

Your stories, Alli are captivating!!


Alli Polin March 21, 2014 at 7:53 am

I’ve found that I’m always better when I’m building on my strengths thank filling my gaps. Still, I think I’ve also fallen back on my strengths as an excuse to stop trying when things get hard.

I love your writing because I definitely get the sense of fun and play from all of them. You bring leadership to life.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Terri!


Sharon Reed March 21, 2014 at 8:41 am

Great post, Ali. I appreciate your gift for story-telling and the deeper message behind them.

My most significant growth has come from a willingness to step out of the known and into the unknown, and then weave that growth and learning back into my core strengths and passions. In this context, part of the ‘work’ in making my dreams come true has been tied to a willingness to be vulnerable, to take risks, and to get back up and keep moving forward even in the face of setbacks. It’s a continual process of breaking frames, redefining lines and busting out of boxes to tap into my core dreams, gifts and purpose.



Alli Polin March 21, 2014 at 9:20 am

I truly understand what you mean. It’s the weaving of the learning that allows me to be more vulnerable and stretch further than I would ever have imagined before.

Dreams are important but so is time… time to grow, time to try, time to fail and time to mix it all up and keep moving forward. It’s amazing to look back on where we’ve been even when at first blush we doubt we’ve come very far – it’s powerful to see the progress.

It truly is a continual and all-in process.

Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom! I love learning from you, Sharon!


Blair March 21, 2014 at 9:20 am

Dear Alli,
Like Sharon I am (once again) so moved by your storytelling and inspired by the lessons you extract.
I have been surprised by the fact that the hard work never ends. Somehow I was under the illusion that at a certain point in your career things start to get easier. But when you live a purpose driven life, hard work is a perpetual requirement even though the shape and scope of the work changes, and there may be longer moments of gliding along in the breeze.
Thanks for helping to bring dreams into reality!


Alli Polin March 21, 2014 at 9:28 am


Crazy, isn’t it? “The hard work never ends.” Truly. As Sharon wrote, it’s a constant reframing, pushing, and trying with success and failure all woven together as a part of our unique story. Skills grow but so does complexity and, even more, our expectations of what’s possible.

I think it’s the purpose driven life that fuels the resilience too. It’s important to ask: Do I truly want to stay down when it matters if I get up and keep going?

Appreciate you beyond words.

Thanks, Blair!


Joy Guthrie March 21, 2014 at 9:46 am

If you stop working hard, everything else just falls away too. You can feel left out, alone, afraid. You can feel those things when you’re working toward a dream also; but, when you are working toward the dream, you have motivation and drive. I’m not sure it’s a coincidence that the number of people I’ve heard of in the past couple of years dying shortly after retirement. If their primary dreams were career related and the career is gone….and they aren’t looking for another dream, it may be that their body just shuts down. There’s something to be said for having more than one dream.


Alli Polin March 21, 2014 at 9:50 am

You definitely have me thinking, Joy. One pulls us down and other lifts us up… dreams and loss, work and emptiness. If the only dream any of us have is about work, we’re missing out on a full and juicy life. Dreams seem to fall in silos but impact us through our entire being.

Thank you for adding this important insight. I wonder if others will chime in with their thoughts. I think you’re on to something…


Michael Feeley March 21, 2014 at 11:31 am

Loved this post Alli and you know how big I am on dreams and ‘never giving up’, which is all about working hard to have your dreams come true.

When going after my dreams, I never seem to mind the work. I don’t even see it as hard work and that’s because I love to work and practice and do it again and again until my dream comes true.

Onward! And, thanks for all your beautiful hard work. Your blog is so good!

My very best – Michael


Alli Polin March 25, 2014 at 7:09 am

Thanks, Michael! Always appreciate your insights and feedback!

So interesting that you mention that hard work rarely seems “hard” when you’re going after your dreams. Amazing things happen to transform our perspective when what we’re working on truly matters not only to the bottom lines but also to who we are at our core.

Many thanks!


LaRae Quy March 21, 2014 at 11:58 am

Absolutely loved this post, Alli.

I’ve been involved in several projects recently where things have not worked out as initially planned, and it has taken a flexible and agile mind to keep moving forward in circumstances as they kept changing and evolving.

Giving up seemed tempting, but that would not move me toward my heart.

It takes mental toughness and a strong mind to not give up on pursuing the heart.


Alli Polin March 25, 2014 at 7:11 am

Interesting, LaRae. I think you’re right on. Sometimes when the projects transform and we stick with it, that’s when things finally get interesting and click! Hanging in there and moving forward with positivity and mental toughness pays off yet again!

Move towards your heart… yes!


Karin Hurt March 24, 2014 at 10:09 am

I had a very similar first rollerblading experience. I don’t think I wanted it badly enough. Other people’s success can look so “easy.” Anything important I’ve ever achieved has always involved tremendous work. It’s important to keep that in mind when considering the successess of others. It makes it all the more important to celebrate with them, because we know it wasn’t easy.


Alli Polin March 25, 2014 at 7:14 am

I know I didn’t want it badly enough! Funny what happened when I came face to face with my assumption that it would be easy just because it looks so easy watching others.

Fantastic point on celebration too! Success does take tons of hard work and part of leadership is slowing down in the moment and recognizing experiences worth celebrating instead of just continuing to move forward at 1000 mph.

Thanks, Karin!


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