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The Genesis of Self

December 29, 2010

In the book of Genesis, there is a story about a poor, middle class guy named Joseph. He had some radical dreams. They told of a day he when would achieve ultimate success, fame and fortune. Unfortunately, being the son of a herder, would make achieving those dreams a severe challenge.

As the story progresses, the narration tells of how Joseph was only met with impossible opposition to accomplishing his goals. He was beaten near to death, thrown in a pit, left to die, sold into slavery, teased, mocked, and sent to jail on false accusations. With every decent step forward he managed to take, there was always someone there to fling him three steps back. Yet somehow at the end, he succeeds and becomes a great and powerful man. How did he do that?

The Bible says that God favored Joseph, but he never gets any super strength, magic powers, or even a brief conversation with a flaming shrub. The events don’t tell a story of miracles and luck, they tell of a man who took possession of his goals and made his own action steps to achieve them. Here is what did happen:

  1. Out of 12 brothers, Dad liked him best. So from the start we know he was a pretty good kid. I can’t imagine a Dad preferring the kid who wasn’t the quintessential “good boy.”
  2. Even after being sold into slavery, his life and work ethics held firm, so much so, he was promoted to “house leader” and put in charge of all the finances.
  3. In the hopelessness of “life” in jail, he maintained his ethics, helping others, still working hard, and doing a bit of networking on the side.
  4. Standing as a prisoner, at Pharaoh’s feet, Joseph is so charming, and exudes so much confidence in his future, that Pharaoh doesn’t just ask a slave prisoner for his help but also frees him, and gives him the position that he had literally always dreamed of.

Incidentally, his first task out of the box was to do this one small thing, create a plan to save all of Egypt. You want to talk about pressure?

The story interprets Joesph’s success as blessings from God. No doubt success is always a blessing, but his achievement should not be misconstrued as simple gifts. At every turn, Joseph kept true to himself, never lying around feeling sorry for himself. He never gave up, and he eventually achieved all that he set out to do, all because one day he had a crazy dream.

We all have dreams. They’re easy, and you don’t even have to be awake to have one. Yours may be even wilder and more “unrealistic” than Joseph’s. But there is a difference between having a dream and realizing a dream. The difference is waking up, and then taking action to make it real. That’s where most of us fall short.

If you’ve read this, then do something today to take just one step towards realizing your dream. Then tomorrow take one more.

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