Dreaming of words

A few weeks ago, I wrote about dreaming in action, about how ‘dream’ is both a noun and a verb. I encouraged us all to live our dreams every day. It was lofty, existential stuff.

This week, I’ve been dreaming about words. That’s right. Words. More precisely, I’ve dreaming about a day when the English language would catch up with the awesomeness that is the work being done every day to make the world a better place.

As readers of this blog know, I’ve long dreamed of a day when we in the non-profit world would define ourselves by what we are versus what we are not. That dream turned into an experiment in crowdsourcing an alternative to the word ‘non-profit. (Non-profit meaning non-progress, after all. Ew!)

But I’m also dreaming about other words. We talk about mission and cause and impact and inspiration and that’s all important. The problem is they’ve all been used so much that they’re losing their meaning. They might, gulp, end up on Big Duck’s Words to Avoid List!

It’s not that they’re bad words. It’s that they’ve become blah. Sort of like ‘innovative technology solution’. (What is that anyway?! As opposed to, what, an un-innovative technology solution?) I’m dreaming of infusing those words with vim and vigor so they get your blood pumping and your heart racing. They need to be resuscitated or replaced.

Am I whining? Yeah, a little bit. I admit it. (And as I say to my kids, “I don’t speak whine.”)

So instead of whining, I’ll redirect my energy toward something more positive and productive–scouring the globe for words that do justice to the work of  all the hard-working people who are making the world a better place.

So tell us: what words do your work justice?


Dream: verb and noun

When you have a dream while sleeping, that happens in spite of you. You’re asleep, after all.

When you have a dream while awake, it happens because of you. Your dreams reflect who you are and what you stand for. It is both verb and noun. “I dream of a better world and I’m making that dream come true.”

Martin Luther King, Jr. epitomized dreaming in action. His “I Have a Dream” speech is as resonant today as it was on August 28, 1963.

Below shows another dream in action. It’s the dream of Severn Suzuki as described in an address she gave to the United Nations. She is 13 years old.

What’s your dream? Are you working every day to make it come true?


Do you communicate as effectively as you think?


Do you communicate as effectively as you think?