Be a Little Dangerous
But Work Hard Too
A reminder that life rewards action.
In my twenties I was an insatiable reader and also an insatiable collector of quotes. Those two interests came together when I happened upon Seven Pillars of Wisdom, a classic memoir by T.E. Lawrence (“Lawrence of Arabia”). I was swept up in his recounting of his wartime exploits, and a famous quote from the introduction to the book also became one of my early touchstones.
That well-known quote (with variations) is the second and third sentence below. But the first sentence--which I didn’t pay a bit of attention to at the time--adds an important point for people who want to achieve their goals. Lawrence writes:
This, therefore, is a faded dream of the time when I went down into the dust and noise of the Eastern market-place, and with my brain and muscles, with sweat and constant thinking, made others see my visions coming true. All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, to make it possible.
As a young woman I liked the idea of being a “dangerous” dreamer of the day. Dangerous in that context sounded glamorous and fun. No wonder I ignored the sentence about using “brain and muscles… sweat and constant thinking” --no glamour there!
The reality, of course, is that it’s not enough to be a daytime dreamer. Dreams are an indispensable and often even magical first step. We need to welcome our dreams, not stifle them, and stay open to the possibilities they promise…. But for the dreams we truly want to see come true, we then need to apply the same strategy T.E. Lawrence described: a thoughtful, clear and constant focus on the goal, combined with a lot of hard work. This may not sound glamorous but it greatly increases the likelihood of us getting what we want.