Everyone has a dream, but many of us lose sight of our dreams or let them go because of some early disappointment, rejection or lack of progress. Our natural tendency is to protect ourselves from getting hurt, so we deny our dreams, afraid to reach out for the people, resources and opportunities that could offer support. Here’s a quick story about Catherine Lanigan.

Catherine’s gift for writing was such that she earned a scholarship to Harvard. Once there, however, a professor gave her first short story an F, and she allowed herself to become convinced that she had no talent. She didn’t write again for 13 years.

Then one day, back in her small Texas town, Catherine visited a movie set. When she expressed her long-neglected desire to be a writer, one of the scriptwriters shot back, “that’s crazy, if you wanted to be a writer, you’d write.”

When Catherine explained how her professor had discouraged her, the scriptwriter replied, “An academic guy? What does he know? I write for a living. Tell you what, go home, write something, send it to me, and I’ll tell you if I think you have any talent in the real world of commercial literature.”

A year later, Catherine finished her novel and sent it to the scriptwriter, who loved it and sent it to his agent in New York. The agent also loved it and asked to represent her. Catherine’s first novel was followed by numerous others including Romancing the Stone and Jewel of the Nile.

Is there a dream buried deep within you? If so, you owe it to yourself — and the world — to fully express it. Here’s how:

  • First you need to get in touch with your dream. When you get in touch with your true essence and discover what it is that really wants to come through you, you will be propelled forward and will overcome any obstacle, no matter how big.
  • Second, gather feedback from many people (but don’t let someone else’s opinion bury your dream). Whether you’re venturing into a new career, proposing a project in your community or developing a computer application, get as much feedback as you can. Weigh it; then follow your own instincts.
  • Finally, try things you’ve never tried before to see what works. When we were kids, we’d try anything, remember? These days, a child facing a computer problem will hit every button in an attempt to solve it. Many adults fear touching the wrong button; don’t be afraid.

Embrace a spirit of curiosity and playfulness in your pursuit. If one thing doesn’t work, try another. If that doesn’t work, try something else. Imagine life as one big laboratory and keep experimenting until your dream yields the results you want. And remember Catherine.