The Virgin Group founder reflects on the power of dreams to shape our futures and shares some tips on how to make yours into a reality...
"Like many people, I sometimes think to myself: what if this is all a dream? I feel like one day I might wake up and be 20 years old again, with my whole life ahead of me. That thought doesn’t scare me, though, it excites me. I’d quite like to go back and plot my life all over again, and have even more big dreams," writes Richard Branson in a recent blog post.
"Dreaming is one of humanity’s greatest gifts. It champions aspiration, spurs innovation, leads to change and propels us forward. In a world without dreams, there would be no adventure, no moon landing, no female CEOs, no civil rights. What a half-lived and tragic existence we would have. We should all dream big, and encourage others to do so, too."
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For Richard, his personal dream was to be able to travel into space, opening the door for others to do so along the way.
"Throughout my life, space has always held a special place in my dreams. After witnessing humans land on the moon, my generation thought that we would all be making routine trips there and exploring it together. But as the years passed, we learned that government officials were not in the business of taking you and me to space; they had other priorities.
"Eventually, when it came to space exploration, it became obvious that private enterprise would have to take what the government started and pave the way for other discoveries. This is essentially the reason our team started our commercial space line, Virgin Galactic. We wanted to help ordinary people reach the stars by doing what we do best: innovating. When Virgin Galactic was merely a name and a vision backed by a small founding team, I didn’t know where this journey would take us nor how long it would take for us to get somewhere."
Like so many of the Virgin businesses, Virgin Galactic started off as little more than a dream. But something Richard and the team realised from the start was the importance of embracing their vision.
"Decades ago, after we watched the moon landing, the idea of space exploration was new and promising. Later, the obstacles made even considering it seem out of reach. But, as our experience with Virgin Galactic demonstrates, taking dreams seriously - even the ones that seem wildly out of reach - is essential.
"When you have an idea and you’re thinking of starting a business (whether it’s in space exploration or not) remember not to be self-conscious about having high expectations. Don’t judge yourself too harshly, and don’t let the naysayers convince you that your idea is way too optimistic, or that you’re being too idealistic or not serious enough."
So, what have all these years of dreaming taught the Virgin Group founder?
"It’s important to look at the world with wide-eyed enthusiasm, and believe that you are more powerful than the problems that confront you. We are only limited by our imagination. Also remember that the benefits of having big dreams far outweigh the perceived risks, because their value isn’t just measured by the outcome, but by the inspiration that comes from the journey of achieving them.
"Dream big, and you could be presented with the opportunity to lead the world on an incredible adventure - even one to other worlds."