I don’t have dreams, I have goals
Fernando Oliver, CEO at Option, and Markus Lundin of Sweden, have different ideas about the kind of mindset that fuels success in business. Here, Oliver tells the story of their disagreement and explains his view.
A few months ago, our Swedish associate Markus Lundin came to Chile to check on the status of some of the projects that we’re developing together. He exchanged a few days of the cold Nordic winter for the extreme 90 degree temperatures common in the summer in South America.
In one of many meetings, we went to the brainstorming room where there is a phrase on the wall. It reads, “I don’t have dreams. I have goals.” In the room there are quotes from Steve Jobs, Einstein, etc. But this one, taken from the main character of a series about lawyers called “Suits,” was the origin of the problem. Markus didn’t understand the meaning of the quote. “How is it possible to motivate a group of people without dreams?” he asked.
Why would a software design company, or any company for that matter, encourage employees to pursue concrete goals and not dreams? I explained that I am attracted to the transparency of the dream. I explained to Markus, after a deep existential discussion, that the need to chase a dream is not sufficient. I gave the example of the dog that chases a car, simply for the enjoyment of chasing. Like the dog, humans have become followers, chasers of unattainable goals to make themselves feel better.
Why not, instead of directing our energy toward lofty ideas, channel our thinking into the active process of achieving real results? Why not construct the dream from a base of smaller, more tangible goals? Infinite dreams have no place in the boardroom.
It’s better to be transparent with your team, tell them that you want to arrive at B from A, and ask what specifically needs to happen to achieve the goal.
I don’t deny that dreams are romantic and entertaining. They can be wonderful. But the cold attitude of Harvey Specter, the star of Suits, who says, “I don’t have dreams. I have goals,” seems more than correct to me.
Dreams are a significant part of the human experience. There are unconscious dreams that usually happen during REM sleep, and daydreams, or dreams that we consciously create to escape and imagine other circumstances. We also use the word dream to express our ideals. Her dream house. His dream woman. Their dream vacation. This use of the word is related to conjuring one’s ideal about some aspect of life. When it comes to attaining success defined by concrete results, dreaming for the sake of ideals is not enough.
Everyone dreams. Goals are specific to those who create them and live by them. While a dream might only exist as a fantasy or an idea, a goal is more complex. It involves an image, an inspiration, or a desire, but also a clear reason and end result. A goal is not singular. It contains an entire plan of action.
The conflict between Oliver and Lundin comes down to different interpretations of a means to the same end. Lundin clearly understands that thorough planning and action are crucial to achieving desired results. Oliver’s interpretation of the quote from Suits involves a system of goal making that is centered on smaller actions and decisions that propel the goal forward. He doesn’t reject the value of dreams, but he insists that a dream without a goal doesn’t heed results.