Dreaming Big: You Can’t Do It Alone

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Catherine Hughes

Director of the 8 Women Dream Project at 8 Women Dream
Catherine’s dream is to make 8 Women Dream the premier online publication for women looking to pursue their dreams. She is a published author, a freelance writer, and a guide for those who want their dreams to come true online. Catherine would someday like to be invited to speak at TED about her observations about her 8WD project inviting women to take a chance on their dreams. Wine was required... Catherine posts on Sunday evenings and fills in dream stories as needed. If you aren't sure how to comment on this story, click here.

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You Can't Do It Alone: When spider webs unite, they can tie up a lion quote

There is this idea hidden in the psyche in America that if you alone work hard enough, your dreams will come true, that your success rests firmly on your own shoulders, and if you don’t “make it” it’s all your fault.

That’s a pretty limiting way to look at the world don’t you think?

Yes–I believe that we are responsible for our lives. It’s not fair to make the people who love you responsible for your well-being. They are dog paddling through life too — right next to you.


And that’s a really big “however” there.

Your dream success is based on people reaching out to you and you reaching out to them — to collectively create change together.

You can’t do it alone.

No one does anything of significance by themselves. It takes a village.

The one thing that bugs me about many successful people is that they aren’t transparent about how much support they have and the time involved in producing what you see.  You are only exposed to one person. (Think Oprah – even though I do like her).  There’s this illusion that success is completely self-made.

Many successful people have personal admins, editors, agents, pr people, husbands who are IT guys, wives who make a killer living at a corporate job with great benefits, a house cleaner, a mother who babysits, and a son that codes websites working in the background to create that successful illusion.  You just don’t see it because you don’t know them personally.

When you first start out on your dream journey you will naturally compare yourself against those you perceive to be better (or successful) at what you want to be.  You’ll feel like a failure when you aren’t closing the gap between you. But what you may not be seeing is the twelve other people who are working in the background to help that successful person, while you are going at it alone — along with raising kids, a husband and working another job.

You are one person.  You can only do so much in a day.

Right at the start of your dream you must explore ways to grow your own success team.  Don’t think of your dream as a one-person entity. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to spend a lot of money to get help when you are in the start up phase of your dream.

I’ve come up with 8 ways you can expand your dream team so that you can be a success.

1. Mastermind Groups.
Ugh. I know. I hate the word too, but don’t limit yourself to a traditional view of what a “Mastermind Group” can really be. A Mastermind Group can be anything from joining Toastmasters so that you speak better in your online videos to starting a Meetup group that supports your passion (one dreamer started a photography meetup group) to joining an online group (think LinkedIn or Facebook) with like-minded individuals who will support your dream.

You may also want to look into legitimate Mastermind Groups where you meet regularly online to discuss what is working for you. One Mastermind Group that I know of meets to discuss their upcoming books being published that need reviews/testimonials and what kind of marketing is effective. Each member commits to reading the books, offer feedback and complete an Amazon review.  They also promote each other through their email newsletter lists.

You can start your own Mastermind Group. Just like 8 Women Dream, Tiny Buddha and Technorati (to name a few) accept user-generated content. By joining up with others you can be part of building something larger than yourself, which can help you with your dreams. Exposure is everything when you are trying to be a success.  Think of Mastermind groups as a spring board.

2. Feedback Loops.
You have to accept feedback to become a success at whatever you do. If you cannot accept feedback, then you need to stop your dream journey right here and find a great counselor who can help you with this before you continue on. Being able to accept feedback keeps your ego in check and is the key to success.

How you set up your feedback loop is purely a personal journey. Maybe you buy the latest copy of Writer’s Market and begin submitting articles for publication and see what rejection or acceptance letters you receive. Or, you connect with a local editor and work out a trade, or a fee for reviewing certain work for feedback where you’re writing is weak. Maybe if you’re a budding photographer offer a popular professional photographer 8 hours of donated time each month for a year. Think of what you could learn volunteering or even working for someone who is ahead of you on your dream journey. They will give you feedback on your work and help you become a success.

3. Mentors.
Mentors can help you stay focused and behaving like a grown-up. It’s so easy to get distracted on your dream journey. There’s kids, spouses, parents, work, and commitments — all crying for your attention. A mentor can help you stay focused on you.

You could find a life coach, or simply offer to take your banker to lunch once a month. There is no limit to your creativity here. Some have followed their dream mentors through their Twitter accounts by sharing and promoting their work to slowly gain trust.  In exchange they’ve received great advice.

SCORE (www.score.org) is probably the best-known organization providing free (and confidential) mentoring to small business owners via its national network of some 13,000 retired business executives, leaders and volunteers. SCORE’s volunteer mentors share their expertise through both in-person and online counseling (via email). (Source: score.org 8 Places to Find Your own Small Business Mentor).

4. Domestic Support.
You are going to need to create space to work on your dream and cutting back on house keeping can create all kinds of free time. This goes right along with organizing and simplifying your life. If you cannot afford a house cleaner, can you get rid of stuff by holding a garage sale?  Maybe you make enough to pay for housecleaning once a month for a year…

If having a house cleaner doesn’t appeal to you then can you clear your clutter so you have less to deal with? The more kick-knacks you have, the more dusting you do. Simple things like making people put their shoes on a shelf by the front door means you vacuum less. Insist that dinner isn’t over until everyone has cleaned up everything so that no one person is left standing in the kitchen doing most of the work (you). This could save you 15 minutes a night — that’s an extra hour an a half each week.

5. PR.
Every dreamer needs pr or a pr person. This could mean anything from hiring a pr agent to writing your own press releases. You need help selling you. A well-crafted press release can bring you help from unexpected sources and possible media attention. I like what Andy Ashby of the Memphis Business Journal advises:

“If you really want to get the attention of a serious journalist working at a serious publication, talk realistically about impact. My editor always asks, ‘So what, who cares?’ Tell people in that industry why they should care.”

I like prWeb for press releases and they’re not cheap. The reason I like them is that your press releases end up on major publications online. If you us this correctly, a prWeb releases press release can help you launch your dream.

6. Social Media Groups.
Create your own group on Facebook, Google Plus page, or LinkedIn group to support your efforts.  They can be everything from sharing your best tips and practices to sharing and promoting each other’s entrepreneurial pursuits.  You can ask for feedback on everything from your projects to your website.

Former Baywatch beauty, Gina Lee Nolin created a Facebook group to answer the question for herself, could she still feel sexy even though she had Hashimotos disease?  At over 64k followers, her once small group have shared everything about dealing with autoimmune diseases and helped Gina launch a book on the subject.

7. Virtual Admins.
Hire a virtual assistant to help you from time to time. LongerDays.com is located in Muskegon, Michigan and is considered one of the largest virtual assistant services in America. They have a range of monthly subscription plans that offer you the ability to purchase a quantity of time that you can afford, while still getting the assistance you need. This is a flat membership fee.

You can also offer to teach an intern what you know in exchange for helping you…

8. Network offline.
Think about joining a networking group offline like Toastmasters, BNI, your local Chamber of Commerce, or a volunteer organization to get you out from behind your desk and out in the living, breathing world. Networking can bring you a fresh perspective and help you pitch your dream.

Pitching to strangers helps you showcase your experience, capabilities and the viability of your dream where you quickly gain valuable feedback and make adjustments accordingly.  You never know who might offer to help you.

Putting a successful support team in place to help you make your dream come true is one of the most important things you can do to ensure your success. No one can be a success by themselves and at some point you are going to hit maximum velocity and you won’t be able to move forward on your dream without help.

Remember that you can’t do it alone and you shouldn’t want to.  But there is support out there and you don’t have to spend a fortune to find it.  Just remember…

When spider webs unite, they can tie up a lion.


  • ImanWoods

    This is awesome! I’m printing this one out too. Apparently I’m printing a Cath novel. ;)