3 Words To Say When People Share Their Dreams

littering blog pic

Would you dump everything, including the kitchen sink (look at the picture carefully), into the world? Probably not.

Yet, without knowing it, many of us do litter by dumping verbal garbage into the minds of co-workers, friends, and family.

In early 1986, after five years with Cargill Inc., I was recruited by a small, unknown training company to sell video-based management development programs to executives. When I announced I’d be leaving Cargill to office from my house, negative garbage was dumped into my mind:

Supervisor: “You’re messing with your life, taking this big risk.”

Supervisor’s boss: “I don’t believe it’s possible to work productively from home.”

Co-worker 1: “Businesses won’t spend money on videos.”

Co-worker 2: “Those video programs sound really over-priced.”

And then, shortly into my new sales career, a mortgage executive and prospective client told me, “You know, John, nobody lasts more than a year in your business.”

Nine years later, in 1995, after being the top salesperson for five years running and earning more money than I’d dreamed possible, I decided to move on from that small training firm to start QBQ, Inc. and “be a speaker.”

Here we go again!

Investment broker: “John, no—you’d be a fool to kill the golden goose.”

Mentor: “The speaking business eats people alive.”

Speaker consultant: “That QBQ thing isn’t going to take you very far.”

Speaker’s bureau owner: “Your ‘accountability’ message will never sell.”

Lots and lots of garbage.

Thankfully, during each of these big career/life changes, my wife, Karen, simply used these three words:

“Go for it.”

Why we dump garbage into people’s lives, littering their minds with negativity, I’ll never know. Possibly, we all just talk too much. Having an opinion does not require sharing that opinion. 

Could it be arrogance? Need for control? A critical spirit? Or simply that classic, I know what’s best for others! thinking?

It might be envy. There are many who won’t and don’t take big risks, so they struggle when those around them do.

Whatever the reason, here’s a suggestion:

The next time someone shares a plan to change his or her life, reach for really big goals, and become something more—just say, “Go for it!”

Sure beats littering. Which, of course, is illegal anyway.

Questions to Consider:

What person will you say, “Go for it!” to today?

When did you have verbal garbage dumped on you?

Who was that key person who said, “Go for it!” to you?

Share below!

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28 Responses

  1. When I decided at the age of 40 to go back to school to become a couples and family counselor after spending 25 years in the business world, my husband was my biggest supporter. He told me to “go for it” and continues to do so during my 5 years of school. Having people believe in your dreams provides the strength needed to follow them. It can be so easy to listen to the doubters (both others and internal!) who want you to continue to play it safe. Thank you for reminding me to support others in following their dreams!!

  2. To me, reasons why people might discourage others from going out on their own:
    Fear of the unknown.
    Concern for your well-being.
    Safety in numbers. Breaking out of the herd.
    Path of least resistance is easier.
    Being reticent to change.
    Past failures or knowledge of other people failing (back to concern for you and fear).
    Maybe a little jealousy?

    But, I agree. Life’s too short to not be doing what you love.

  3. John – This one is being printed out now. I have some big changes coming up and I have heard many of the comments you shared above. Luckily I have also heard many positive messages and words of encouragement and support. It’s great to have others believe in me but I know at the end of the day, my own belief in myself will be the most important factor.

    Looks like the recipe for a QBQ – Starts with “why” or “How”, uses “I” and involves an action – will once again be on the menu.

  4. John, I first heard your QBQ message years ago and to this day I look forward to these emails. Your message today is particularly impactful. The big light bulb for me was realizing that sometimes we do the “verbal garbage dumping” to ourselves. We might find more people encouraging us to “go for it” if we haven’t already buried ourselves in the garbage. Have a great day and thank you for the great thought today.

  5. I loved this message John. Your go for it spirit has been an inspiration to many, including me! Onward and upward.

  6. This message is so timely as I listen to people give my nephew advice as he leaves for college. He want to be a teacher. He has received so much verbal trash about the money he will not make, the number of applicants per teaching position, how awful parents and children are these day…I could go on! An occasional person has realized and encouraged his passion for children and his love for knowledge. I sent this to him this morning. Thank you for articulating this behavior into words that describe what is happening!

  7. John – Thank you for sharing this powerful story and critically important reminder. After deciding 16 years ago that I would take the speaker / author / entrepreneurial leap from what many described as the “pinnacle” of my career (SVP at a global firm) I heard every bit of that garbage and then some. Beyond my dear wife’s urging to “go for it” a close mentor told me to “never stop chasing my passion”. I’m humbled to say that taking that leap and chasing my passion continues to be the most important and rewarding decision of my career.


  8. Great message John!

    I find myself having to silence the inner “demons” at times (with 7 kids, it happens frequently) and remember to be the wind beneath someone’s wings instead of the weight that keeps them from soaring. Just because I didn’t get that kind of support in my life (until I met my wife Brenda 14 years ago; she’s MY Karen believing in me no matter what) doesn’t mean I can’t stop the cycle and make things better.

    I find myself constantly telling my grandchildren they can be and do anything they want now because I want possibility thinkers out there!

    Thanks again!

  9. ANYONE WHO READS THIS KNOWS IT IS TRUE. We have voices that talk to us, some real people and others in our heads. Don’t do this, don’t do that! The voices are very convincing at times and if followed you may never realize your potential but more importantly, you/me may never do that one thing that when done could actually change the world (hopefully for the betterment of the world). My advice would be to yes listen to the voice but then decide for yourself whether the voice is speaking in YOUR best interest and not theirs which is most often the case. If your ultimate decision is good for your, it is also good for the world.

  10. I think I can……. I think I can……….. like the little engine that could.. right So say I know I can …. I know I can and make it happen with team work….

  11. I LOVE your always positive & learning emails. It is so surprising when many people try to “burst your balloon” just because they don’t have the nerve to take a risk themselves. I always tell people “First, you pray about this decision. Then, if the feeling to do this is still prominent in your mind, you move forward. God will shut any specific door He doesn’t want you walking through.” If your heart is in the right place, He will always guide you to where He wants you to be.

  12. When I was approaching fifty years of age, my wife and I started thinking about taking a year off from work, traveling around the United States and Canada, and hiking on the beauty that God created. Almost every person with whom we shared the idea responded with, as you’ve indicated, garbage. My Dad, however, well into his seventies, said, “Son, if you can afford it, do it while you are young enough that you can tolerate the hours of driving in between your various destinations.”

    We started making plans, and from September 1997 to September 1998, we loved the experience of hiking almost every day, from sunup to sundown. We sent e-mail updates to friends and family every other day, sharing our insights and growth. We’ve never regretted the decision. Thanks, Dad, for being the lone voice saying, “Go for it!”

  13. This is a perfect one for me John, 29 years ago I left a company I had only recently joined to move back to Massachusetts and join a “start-up” company called Interprint. The folks at my other company warned me about what a big mistake I was making, the market won’t support another printer, you’re going to regret this etc. But I believed in the opportunity, had a great mentor and leader and never looked back. As you know, that turned out pretty well!

    Thanks John for the QBQ message, its simple but powerful!


  14. My husband was on sea duty, out of a port a thousand miles from our home and I had three small children. I decided to change jobs from a hospital position to Public Health Nurse where I could work days instead of shiftwork. My supervisor had all kinds of objections: “You can’t do that, you’re not qualified. You don’t have a BSN.” (I did). You’ll regret leaving here. Public Health Nurses don’t do any good.”

    Then she arranged for me to work a double shift (16 hours). I miscarried the baby I didn’t know I was carrying at 2 months, missed my last week of work, and the supervisor reported that I didn’t give “proper notice” of quitting. Public Health Nursing is coming back because nurses going into the home to teach and support patients and report back to the physician keeps patients out of Emergency rooms and from admissions because their chronic diseases are controlled. I learned so much as a PHN and loved it!

  15. Hi John,
    In my experience, those that dump negative comments on your optimistic dreams often are worried for your well-being (e.g. family members) who don’t think you’ve thought this new idea all the way through. Or it’s someone (e.g. a co-worker or friend) who wishes they had the courage to try something new, and like you said, struggle when those around them do try something new.
    I agree that this is a powerful concept. When someone is courageous enough to try something new and vulnerable and humble enough to share that idea with you verbally, being supportive is the best way. Speaking as someone who’s had several of my personal idea “parades” rained on, it doesn’t cost you anything to be supportive of another person’s goals and dreams. And who knows where that positive energy will take them!:) Thanks for all you do John!

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