A Dream Deferred Is A Dream Denied

I recently came across a book by Chris Guillebeau called The Art of Non-Conformity, and to say that it changed my life would be an understatement. The gist of the book is this: the life you lead is yours and yours alone – you don’t have to live it carrying the weight of the heavy expectations that others place on you.

I picked this book up on a whim, not sure if what I was getting myself into was more of what I was used to: another self help book that simply repeated what I already knew. Unlike other books though, it connected with me in a much different way, and not only did it show me a bit of the “how” but, more importantly, it also inspired me to do more, to be better.

I bought several copies for family members during the holidays, and even gave my own copy away to a friend as a way to pay it forward.  I just wanted to spread the message. So of course when I found out that Chris was hosting a summit in June filled with like-minded people, I knew that I had to go. Sadly though, the choice had already been made for me.

World Domination Summit has now sold out

I was in the middle of writing a blog post when I found out the news, and it took the wind right out of my sails, so I shut down the computer and went to bed defeated. The next day though was a different story entirely

I sat there telling myself that while I’d missed out this time that there was always next year, but the more I tried to convince myself of this, the more upset that I became.

What if there is no event next year?

What if  there is and I can’t make it due to unforeseen circumstances?

No. I couldn’t wait until next year, because I know that if i did the chances of it actually happening were slim. Dreams and goals are funny like that; they’re malleable things. The longer you wait to get started towards achieving them, the more that you begin to compromise, the more those dreams begin to change shape, so much so that before you know it they’re no longer recognizable to you.

So I said screw it and bought my plane ticket to Portland. If it was going to happen at all, it was going to happen now.

I have no idea how I’m going to get into the summit, or even where I’ll stay once I get there, but I do know one thing: there is 100% chance of me not attending if I stay at home and sulk. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

What have you been wanting to accomplish but haven’t made any headway towards for whatever reason? Be careful not to wait too long, otherwise you run the risk of losing the dream forever.

What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?

– Langston Hughes

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  1. Nancy C. says

    Great post, Rog, and very inspiring. I love the ballsiness of buying the plane ticket. The universe will provide the how as long as you provide the why.

    I’ll definitely check out that book. I love those types of books…those and vampire romances. I’m a non-conformist that way.

    • says

      And whatever the universe doesn’t supply, some good ‘ol fashion hustle and ingenuity will help close that gap.

      P.S. – We’re gonna have to talk about these vampire books sometime soon. I might even share with you my secret shame as well!

  2. says

    Hey Mr. Rogers! Great story. I’m so glad you liked the book, and I’m so glad you’re coming to PDX one way or the other.

    Once in a while on Twitter, someone ends up selling their #WDS ticket because they can’t come — if that happens and you catch them at the right time, you can just pay them the face value and let us know. Hopefully between now and June, something will turn up. 🙂

    • says

      You’re the first brave soul to step up and take the Mr. Rogers challenge – well played, Guillebeau!

      Thanks for stopping by, too. I’m already on the waiting list and I’ll be scouring the #WDS like a cookieless Cookie Monster in hopes that something pops up.

      See you in June!

  3. says

    Great post. Everyone’s been guilty of procrastination or indecision in the past, and I’m sure it’s cost us at one point or another.

    I’m glad you chose to attend the summit. We don’t have such programmes in Singapore, so be glad you do!

    Anyway, I’ve heard many plaudits about the book. I’m thinking of buying a copy for myself soon.

  4. Risto says

    Thanks a bunch for posting this! I spent quite some time reading Chris’ stuff, I might even check out his book.

    I like his general theme of “being awesome.” Doing what we want to do and helping the world become a better place. That’s what I spend my time thinking about, that’s what I’m trying to do every day. I’d say I’m doing a good job at a slow but steady rate.

    To us who want to make our life and the lives of other people awesome!

  5. Josh Hamilton says


    This got me fired up. I’ve read the book twice, but have since let it drift to the back of my mind. I’m going to blaze through it again because it truly is a great read. Inaction and “realistic” thinking plague most people. Blazing our own path and really appreciating the time we have is the only way to live!

    Looking forward to seeing you at the JP Summit. Although, i’m thinking I should follow suit and commit to Portland as well. There are bound to be tickets turning up….(although i’m not sure who in their right mind would sell them.)

    Keep of spewing high levels of awesomeness all over the place. It is much needed.

  6. says

    Chasing your dreams headlong is definitely one way to do it. Go big or go home. 🙂

    Many of our innovators, inventors, and pioneers were and are like this.

    Me, I’m more of an early adopter at best. I’m a nervy bastard, but I’m a little risk-averse.

    So I’ve found that when circumstances stymie me, what works for me is to ask, “What was I trying to fundamentally achieve, anyway?”

    Thus my original dream flows and mutates like the tentacles of an octopus. I probe this way and that, but I never lose sight of what’s important about the dream.

    I suppose I should use a parkour example for how to sidestep or traverse all obstacles, but the single-route approach doesn’t capture the necessity of multi-pronged and concurrent attempts b/c you don’t know how things will work out.


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