Why Should We Chase Dreams?

Rational or emotional, passionate for or tired of our current situation, everyone of us should read the trilogy articles by Victor Cheng: Chasing Dreams, The Logical Argument for Chasing Dreams and The Paradox of Paradox, a thought-provoking series on the true value of dreams.

Rational or emotional, passionate for or tired of our current situation, everyone of us should read the trilogy articles by Victor Cheng: Chasing Dreams, The Logical Argument for Chasing Dreams and The Paradox of Paradox, a thought-provoking series on the true value of dreams.


Probably every consultant or candidate in management consulting has heard the name Victor Cheng. As a former McKinsey consultant, he founded the blog CaseInterview.com to give generous advice related to the industry. His 12-part training video on case study interviews has hit at least 1.2 million views on Youtube, where he put it at public disposal pro liberum and merely called for a donation to KidPower, a nonprofit child safety organization.

But there is more: apart from tips on hard skills, Cheng also gives life advice on soft skills such as self-confidence, perseverance and leadership. His trilogy of articles – Chasing Dreams, The Logical Argument for Chasing Dreams and The Paradox of Paradox – are among my favorites, as it reminds us of the importance of dreaming, but in a rational way.

Chasing Dreams
Everyone should spend at least a portion of his or her life – large or smaller – in chasing dreams, because the act of pursuing passions can transform lives from ones of simple existence to those full of invigoration for living.
This is nothing new, however Victor’s most powerful point in this article is. He refreshingly states: “If you are NOT fulfilling YOUR dreams, then you are probably fulfilling SOMEONE ELSE'S dream (without even realizing it).” For instance, if you are doing a job that you don’t like, then you may be fulfilling your parents’ dream of being parents to a banker, your manager’s dream of being promoted for your hard work, or your wife’s dream of having a husband who earns good money.
So instead of arguing whether people should fulfill dreams, his point is more pointedly that everybody is already doing so, leaving the simple question to each of WHOSE dreams, “YOURS or SOMEONE ELSE’S,” they may be pursuing.

The Logical Argument for Chasing Dreams
Following the first short but powerful article, Cheng further develops his point by arguing the true value of dreams.
There are two common misunderstandings about the value of dreams, one attaching great importance to the chasing big dreams, while the other holding that it is impractical and irrational to make efforts towards something unlikely to come to fruition. Although their respective assumptions of probability are different, both arguments share the premise that pursuing the dream is valuable only if the dream comes true, based on the statistical concept of expected value, equal to an outcome’s probability multiplied by its magnitude. But is it completely rational to quantify our passions?
Using his personal childhood dream as an example, Victor believes that such statistical concept should not be applied in the case of dreams and proposes an alternative point of view: “There’s value that comes from pursuing a dream even if you never succeed.” Irrespective of the outcome, the intellectual pursuit of the dream alone provides “hope, joy and smiles — all of which are priceless.”
The article ends with an opening, more complex topic: the real issue with pursuing dreams lies in making the initial tradeoff decision, namely risking or giving up what you already have or might get in the future to pursue the indeterminate dream with action.

The Paradox of Paradox
After the heated discussion among readers triggered by the previous articles, Cheng writes a third to clarify his argument.
This article admits that two opposing ideas are equally true: A. “It’s okay to give yourself permission to dream, even if you never take action on it.” B. “If you want to succeed, then you should be a doer rather than a dreamer.”
The reason lies in the nuanced first statement wherein Victor advocates dreams as a form of fun intellectual entertainment. Cheng says: “Given that dream is only a thought, a few seconds of neuron-firing activity in the brain, it’s an inexpensive way to put a smile on my face.” Meanwhile, he strongly believes that between those who only dream, and there are those who take action, it is only the doer that will eventually succeed.
As with the second article, it is always much more complicated to explain the action, so Cheng willingly leaves this part into open discussion.
In few words he further relates, “most logical paradoxes are known to be invalid arguments but are still valuable in promoting critical thinking.” Although Cheng’s trilogy on dream-chasing doesn’t extend to the methodology of transforming dreams into action, it is yet a very thought-provoking achievement , which incites each of us to think – or rethink – about our dreams, and whether we are willing to put them into action.

Jeanne Yizhen Yin

You can read Victor’s original articles here:
Chasing Dreams
The Logical Argument for Chasing Dreams 
The Paradox of Paradox 

Photo: "Beautiful-camera-color-dreams-Favim.com-818645" by Eduxrdovelez72 - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons


This article is dedicated to our fortnightly newsletter “Leaders Wisdom Journal”. To Subscribe.

Other articles of the same issue:
J.- J. Dordain (European Space Agency) : “Let’s not forget to dream!”
Leonardo da Vinci: An Undaunted Dreamer
25 Innovative Leaders (Part II)
Wisdom on Risk Taking
Simon Sinek: How Great Leaders Inspire Action (TED Video)





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