He said only a few people are "born dreamers."
"Just because you happen to be one of them," he said, "you don't really think everyone in this restaurant is one, do you?"
I was losing the debate as we took our seats, and I didn't know what to do. Our conversation had special meaning to me because, although my producer friend didn't know it, I was trying to help him embrace his Big Dream.
I was almost to the point of giving up when an idea came to mind. Why not try to prove it right in front of him?
When our waitress Sonja came to take our order, my heart was pounding. But I took a risk. I asked her, "Are you doing what you've always wished you could be doing?"
She looked at me questioningly. "What do you mean?" she asked.
I said, "Well, maybe you are doing your dream, and that would be terrific. But I wonder, do you have a Big Dream inside of your heart that hasn't come true yet?"
Sonja thought for a moment. Then she said, "My mother is a nurse. My sister is a nurse. And I always dreamed of becoming a nurse."
"Would you have been a good nurse?" I asked.
Sonja became emotional. "I would have been a really good nurse," she said softly.
"Would you like to be a nurse at this very moment?" I asked.
"Yes," she said.
So I took another risk. "Do you happen to believe that God wants you to be a nurse?" I asked.
She looked away for a minute, then said, "I think so."
"If God wants you to be a nurse, then there must be a way for you to be one," I said. "What has stopped you?"
Sonja listed the reasons: an education cut short by marriage, then two children, then the demands of raising a family. "Now it's impossible," she said. "It's too late." I heard the sadness in her voice.
"What would have to happen for you to become a nurse?" I asked.
"We don't have enough money," she said. "I can't afford a babysitter, so I can't go to school."
"So if you had a babysitter, you would go to school?" I asked.
"Yes," she said without hesitation.
I glanced at my producer friend to make sure he was taking this all in. Then I took another risk. "Sonja, I believe there's somebody in your life who cares about you and would babysit your children for free. Who is that person?"
Sonja thought for a moment, then her face lit up. "It's my mother!" she exclaimed. "She just retired two months ago! She loves her grandchildren. And she's always wanted me to have my dream. She'd babysit my kids for free if I just asked her!"
While she spoke, her eyes brimmed with tears. Mine did, too. Anytime I see someone else's dream surfacing, I'm deeply touched, because I know how sad it is not to be able to live your dream.
Without even taking our order, Sonja slid in next to a friend at another table to announce that she was going back to school. "I'm going to be nurse!" she said with tears of joy.
My friend sat across from me, shaking his head. "If I didn't see it with my own eyes," he said, "I wouldn't have believed it. Maybe you're right. Maybe everybody does have a Big Dream."
With whom do you identify in that story? The producer? He thought people with Big Dreams are few and far between. The waitress? She always knew she had a Dream but never felt it was possible.
Every person I meet who is not actively pursuing a Big Dream can identify with one or the other. But the truth is, even those who think Dreams only happen to someone else carry a Dream hidden deep in their heart, just hoping it can come true. And when someone puts a finger on that hidden Dream, the person almost always becomes emotional.
You have a Big Dream, too. God has put a driving passion in you to do something special. Why wouldn't He? You are created in His image-the only person exactly like you in the universe. No one else can do your dream.
One day when I was teaching this point to very poor villagers, one of the men suddenly clapped his hands and exclaimed, "That's wonderful news! That means I can stop wishing I were someone else!"
The journey toward your Big Dream changes you. In fact, the journey itself is what prepares you to succeed at what you were born to do.
And until you decide to pursue your Dream, you are never going to love your life the way you were meant to.
Yet millions of people never take the first step.