While it’s easy to think of ourselves as isolated entities, each and every one of us has actually been shaped by the dreams of those around us and those who have come before. A dream is fuel that ignites action. It is the ultimate catalyst for change. And with that change comes the opportunity for other dreams to be born.
I reflect on this often. I’ve always considered myself self-made, having moved to LA at 18 with barely any money to my name. In the beginning, I struggled to make my own opportunities. However, reflecting on my journey, some of my greatest opportunities can be traced back to the dreams of others.
You really never know how some moments in time, or even in history, will affect you. Take for example our rulers His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, and the late HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. Before I was even born, these rulers had fantastic dreams for the Middle East. Dreams that would result in shaping Dubai into what it has become today. In the last 40 years, this glimmering city has put not just itself, but the entire UAE on the global map in a completely different way. And from the success of this city, has come the opportunity for others, like myself, to thrive.
A quote that I always think of in relation to the rulers of Dubai comes from the great critic, the late James Huneker, “All men of action are dreamers.” If it were not for these two rulers to dream beyond what seemed possible, Dubai would not be what it is today.
This quote can be tied to almost every example of success that I can think of. Mark Zuckerberg, for example, had the dream of a global community, unified through the power of Facebook. Without this dream, Facebook would have never existed. And it can easily be argued that social media itself would not be what it is today.
And without this dream coming to fruition, so many entrepreneurs and businesses would have never found a platform to reach such a global audience. People I admire greatly, like Huda Kattan, for example – top blogger, cosmetics founder, and overall beauty mogul – would not have been able to build the beauty empire she now runs. And given her reach, who knows how many people she has inspired with her own journey?
Knowing that our success in life is tied to the world and dreams around us is a powerful tool. It opens us up to the bigger picture and reminds us to stay humble.It gives us powerful examples of what can happen when one takes on the seemingly impossible and doesn’t give up. It’s a reminder that our dreams, no matter how crazy they may seem, are actually possible.
It’s also a reminder not to try to force success, but rather, to open ourselves up to inspiration, and through that, opportunity. This is something I often have to remind myself of, as it’s easy to forget. If we try something and it doesn’t work, maybe it’s just not the right time. Or maybe we just have to adjust the details. If we are surrounded by those who don’t believe in our dreams, perhaps we are surrounded by the wrong people.
Whenever I’m feeling discouraged, I think of Sheikh Zayed and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, and how many obstacles they had to overcome. And I reflect on how far I myself have come. Afterall, being inspired by someone is a form of gratitude. So I’m challenging you to ask yourself: what was the process that allowed you to get to where you are today? Whose hard work, besides your own, has put you in a place of opportunity? And are you ready to let the dreams of others inspire yours?
From September 2018 issue of Harper's Bazaar Arabia