A quiet rebel’s guide to being unrealistic

Every person who ever told me to face reality never seemed very happy to me. I was told to face reality from the time I was little. So it started young. And it was from a good number of people.

I was a BIG day-dreamer and it happened when I told them dreams of what I was going to be, what I would do, the life I dreamed of living. This is when they’d look at me severe and grimly and say, “Dreams are nice, but you need to face reality.”  Then present me with an expectant look that plainly said, “It’s time to wipe that smile off your face, young lady.”

I only had one teacher, Miss Herman, who said, “You’re going to go places, Ingrid, don’t forget that, and don’t forget us.”  I will never forget her.

Actually, if you want to know the truth, it started really early.  Apparently, when I was a baby, I spent a lot of time laughing. My mother said even when she left me alone for a little bit in my crib, from the next room she could hear me laughing and laughing. When she came in, I was being very entertained by the light dancing on the ceiling as the trees outside swayed in the breeze and their leaves cast playful shadows of light. (Note:  I still find that endlessly entertaining.)

Anyway, she took me to the doctor because I was laughing so much, everything made me happy and I was always laughing at the least little thing. She was afraid I was mentally defective. The doctor examined me rather thoroughly and told my mother that I had no mental defects, she just had a really happy baby.

She couldn’t quite understand why I was so happy. It makes total sense to me. I had a really cool family and I was super happy to be alive.

I also really liked people. I found pretty much everyone interesting.  I loved talking to strangers.

So teachers, and even random people, started telling me to face reality pretty early. They made a point to let me know that the world was not as good a place as I seemed to think it was. Reality came to mean something pretty grim, slightly dangerous, a little or a lot unpleasant and definitely something you couldn’t do anything about.

And, most important, when it comes to you versus reality, reality always has the winning hand, you will always lose.

You can understand why I wasn’t crazy about the reality they kept telling me I had to face. It clearly meant giving up my dreams.  It actually meant I should stop dreaming altogether.

So, I learned to look very serious. I learned how to get the straight A’s in school that seemed to make everyone happy, grades that turned out to be meaningless because they were no measure of whether I was a good person or whether I could do anything meaningful, or contribute anything worthwhile to the world.

But I knew this was wrong and I couldn’t sell out my dreams.  I was a quiet rebel.  I didn’t announce my rebellion, I just acted on it. I won’t get into all I did to make school tolerable, suffice it to say, I had a really good time (clean fun) and laughed a lot when they weren’t looking.

I started our organization, Effective Training Solutions, when I was in my 20’s. They told me to face reality yet again, that I was too young to start my own company. Even my mother told me to go get “a real job” when I told her I was the CEO of a company of one.

And here I am, over 30 years later…living a dream.

Because that’s what it comes down to.

Dreams versus reality. It’s not you versus reality it’s your dreams versus reality.  And, in truth, it’s someone else’s reality they’re trying to get you to face, it’s never yours.

And that’s what this New Year is all about. There are WAY too many heavy-duty realities being enforced on all of us.

What does that do to our dreams?

If your answer is, that you dream even bigger and are making those dreams come true, Bravo!

If your answer is, that you’re waiting to either see how it all turns out or are waiting for it to change, it’s time to reclaim your precious dreams.  They are the most important part of your life. 

I spend 20% of my time observing reality exactly the way it is.  And 80% focused on how I want it to be and making it happen.

We have 12 people in our organization. We just had a series of major end-of-year meetings. We looked back over the last year and forward into our new year.

The reality looking back was grim.  We received an email at 3 PM one day in March telling us that, starting at midnight, we were not allowed to come back to the office. Every single client we had scheduled through 2020 suddenly canceled. We had no online training going, only in-person clients scheduled, so suddenly the rug was pulled out from under our business and our dreams completely.

My team and I had an immediate meeting and within two hours we had new dreams we were inspired by, a strategy and a plan.

Over the last nine months we have executed on it, with many pivot points along the way where we responded to continuously changing observations about what our clients really need.

In 2020 we pulled together, did the hard work, basically climbed a very high mountain, and were so busy climbing, we never looked down to see how far we’ve come.

In these meetings, we realized we had reached the top of a very high mountain and we all sat back to enjoy the beautiful view.

The wins from our clients have been so satisfying, so richly rewarding, so deeply moving, so profoundly wonderful, we were filled with gratitude.  All the new people that we’ve met and who have enriched our lives so greatly. And we are so happy for the great number of people that we have helped who now can go forward to communicate successfully to the world around them and create new realities.  People who are making a difference, people who are uplifting the world around them.

We look back on 2020 with pain and sorrow for the injury that was done to the dreams of so many.
And we look back with great joy for all the people we helped.

The world around us has been unrelentingly brutal. Surrounded by this harsh reality, we created our own world of goodness and brought many people into that world. 

And that’s what this new year is about.  

It’s not about facing reality. It’s not about waiting to see what’s going to happen. It’s not about waiting for everything to change.

It’s about creating a beautiful new reality that truly makes us … you, me, all of us … deeply satisfied and happy.

Facing reality isn’t going to get us there. Creating reality will.

So my wish for you is to be filled with the courage (because it takes real courage) to face your dreams and make them your new reality.

I will never tell you to face reality. I believe in your ability to CHANGE reality, to improve it, to make a better world, for you, for your family, for everyone you work with.

I believe in you. I believe in your dreams.

I’m all about making dreams come true.  That’s the best part of life. And helping people.

And being way too happy. And laughing way too much.

Wishing you a most beautiful new year.


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