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October 31, 2005
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 The H.R. Doctor Is In

The Most Powerful Dreams

"The most powerful dreams are the ones that wake you up." What a wonderful quote - even if it originates from a Honda motorcycle advertising campaign. Much of our lives at both a professional and personal level could be tremendously enriched if we all had this quote tattooed to the inside our eyelids. Every time we closed our eyes we could see the real potential each of us has. This potential is often never fully realized.

While the quote in the advertising campaign is designed to stimulate our consumer glands into running out in the middle of the night to find an all-night motorcycle store, it struck a different chord with the HR Doctor.

I have written often before about our two greatest enemies. These are the enemies which create the greatest harm in the individual lives of others, cause the greatest suffering and waste, and prevent us from reaching our full potential as individuals, professionals and citizens of the country and the world. These are also the enemies we can successfully combat with relatively simple, but profoundly important, personal commitments.

The two enemies are, first, our penchant to see a problem in our relationships with family, work, neighborhood or out in the world and then simply walk by something wrong without taking some personal action to improve the situation. This inattention allows a situation to fester, worsen and make later efforts at solutions less effective and far more costly.

The second enemy is the inertia which we allow to invade our daily lives. Inertia is the property which makes us default to inaction until some outside compelling force pushes us, however briefly, in some new direction.

Whether we are speaking of the inertia that turns us into couch potatoes and leads to a situation where a majority of Americans are overweight or obese, or whether we are speaking of an employee who takes no action on a project, hoping that the assignment will be forgotten or can be completed with second rate last-minute staff work, the effects of inertia on our lives are terrible. It makes us less healthy personally and less successful professionally. Inertia makes us substitute complaining and whining for positive action.

At the individual level, the HR Doctor’s experience with tens of thousands of job applicants over the years has led to the conclusion that a great many are still eligible for featured roles in the next remake of "Night of the Living Dead."

They live in a world of expectation that others will give them things to which they claim entitlement. When things don’t work out as expected, the default is to blame others and to threaten others. All the while, these colleagues seem to use a two-way mirror which does not reflect any behavior back at them for coaching or improvement.

The same is true of many governmental agencies which resist innovation. Such organizations are quickly befuddled when it comes to addressing new problems and for seizing new opportunities in a nimble and innovative manner.

Instead, the default is to the book of regulations which was perhaps written years earlier and denies the agency the flexibility it needs. It may also lead the agency and its employees to reach the conclusion that the principal purpose of the organization is to serve them rather than serve clients or the public in general. It is true that the most powerful dreams are the ones that wake you up. However, the "wake-up call" is really a call to confront these two enemies aggressively and to defeat them. Merely waking-up is not enough. It is too easy to go back to sleep or to grab the remote control and watch several hours of brain-deadening television. Powerful dreams not acted upon can turn into nightmares.

Our job as professionals, not to mention as human beings, is to let our dreams become real. Don’t ignore or be victimized by turning a blind eye to opportunities which are all around you. Improve lives and bring joy to yourself and others. What better launching point for such a life mission than a career in public service.

Want to learn more about these two great enemies and how to confront them? Click your way over to and purchase the HR Doctor’s new book Don’t Walk by Something Wrong! Pleasant dreams.

Phil Rosenberg
The HR Doctor


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