There is no way he can win the elections. No way. He is black. He has been in the senate for a mere three years and is still unknown in most of the country. These were the words of most political professionals in the US back in 2006. They were talking about Barack Obama, a 45 year old African American man who was considering running for President of the United States.
What they didn’t know; what even Obama himself didn’t know at the time, was that Iowa, a small mid-western State whose population is smaller than Nairobi’s, was going to play a critical role in ushering Obama to the White House.
It is in Iowa that Obama retrieved his presidential dream and began breathing life into it. He writes in his book, the Promised Land, how one night, “I jolted out of bed, my heart racing, and went downstairs to pour myself a drink. I sat alone in the dark, sipping vodka, my nerves jangled, my brain in sudden overdrive. My deepest fear, it turned out, was no longer of irrelevance, or being stuck in the Senate, or even losing a presidential race. The fear came from the realization that I could win.”
This realization hit him that night, after he had spent the day campaigning for Iowa’s Democratic Party’s candidate for Governor. During his speech, the crowd had gone wild; their cheers almost drowning out his voice.
Iowa was the place that awakened his presidential dream and made him realize that he could in fact, win the presidency. Iowa was also significant because it was the first voting state in the months-long Democratic Party elections. He knew therefore, that because he was still an unknown entity, the only way for him to win the Democratic Party nominations was to win Iowa.
He writes in his book that, “for an upstart campaign like mine, everything would depend on winning the early states, especially Iowa.” In other words, at a strategic level, his dream to be president would only be possible if he won Iowa. And so a whole year before Iowa was to vote, he started campaigning there and poured his all into the State. He gave it his all. He opened Obama campaign offices in all of Iowa’s 99 Counties.
The Universe rewarded these heart-size efforts handsomely on January 3rd 2008. When Iowa voted on this day, Obama won a resounding victory. He writes in his book, “The results, when they came in, showed us winning Iowa decisively, carrying just about every demographic group, our victory propelled by unprecedented turnout, including tens of thousands of people who’d participated for the first time.” His dream to be President had started to become a reality.
Everyone has their Iowa. That place that holds the keys for unlocking your dream. Tragically, very few people find their Iowa, largely because they are not even looking for it. To find your Iowa, you must invest your time and heart into searching for it. Iowa is symbolic of strategy. Plan. Almost everyone dreams of something. But very few people invest their blood, sweat and tears into building a strategy for realizing their dreams. Then executing that strategy. Van Gogh the great Dutch painter said it beautifully and powerfully, “I dream my painting and then I paint my dream.”
You need to move from the dreaming to the painting. Only you can breathe life into your dream. Only you can birth your dream into life. If you can’t feel any labor pains, then you are not really birthing it. If you don’t really think about it last thing before you sleep, then the dream is hazy and you need to clarify it to yourself first before you can start realizing it. If it’s not the first thing on your mind when you wake up, then chances are that you won’t invest that day into realizing it. If you are not consumed by your dream, then you will not feed it into reality.
A dream is not a wish. It is a clear blueprint in your mind of what you want. Develop that blueprint, then just like Van Gogh, go ahead and begin painting that dream. Begin translating it into reality through a simple, but well thought-out strategy. Just like Obama, find your Iowa. Find that critical factor that will set in motion realization of your dream.
Remember, you must be consumed by your dream if you are to feed it into reality. It must be among the first things on your mind when you wake up if you are to spend your days realizing it. Invest intense heart and time into it and eventually, the labor pains will be richly rewarded and you will hold a realized dream in your arms.