This past week, I had an incredible experience where I got to go visit the United Kingdom. There was a conference going on over there. I decided at the last minute I wanted to go visit this conference. I wanted to just attend. I wanted to visit friends. I have some friends that were presenting at this conference, and I just wanted to show support.

I realized something when I arrived there, it was so cool to see the response from the attendees at the conference, most of whom I did not know. They were familiar with my work and were quite excited to see me, as I was them. It was a really cool experience and it made me think of something about, in Solution Focused Brief Therapy, what we call preferred futures. And it made me think and reflect on the beginning of my career.

I remember the very first conference dedicated to Solution Focused Brief Therapy that I ever attended. I can remember walking around that conference and being really excited to see some of the people who had written books that I was studying in graduate school and just feeling really excited about the work I was doing. This is all the way back in 2008 when I went to this conference, and really excited about the work I was doing, really excited about the potential future.

I had no idea that my career was going to go the way that it went. I didn’t have the ambitions for it. I didn’t know I’d be the person in this field with the biggest following. I didn’t know that I would have five books eventually. I’m working on my sixth now (shameless plug). I didn’t know all of these things.

My biggest aspiration then was to have a therapy practice that I could live off of. That was my biggest dream, that I could have a therapy practice that could pay my bills comfortably. Over time, those dreams grew. I remember walking around that conference being so inspired to meet all of these people who had contributed to the learning that I was going through at the time, and just being excited about it, being super duper excited about it.

As time unfolded, I started dreaming bigger. I started thinking, “Well, maybe I could get my message out into the world.” And then I wrote a book. Then I started thinking, “Maybe I can give a lecture of my own.” And I went to a conference and delivered a lecture, and people really liked it, and they started inviting me to more places.

Everything grew and grew and grew and now, I’m working on TV shows, I’ve got the biggest following in this field, and some of the most recognized books are books that I’ve written with my colleague, Adam Froerer. And it’s just gotten crazy.

The message I want to give you today is how important it is to dream big.

I think one of the biggest mistakes I made is not believing in myself enough in the beginning. I’m admitting to you openly and honestly, I didn’t dream big because I didn’t realize it was possible. And I want to tell you, it is all possible.

Now here I am at this conference, comparing the first conference I went to, and this most recent conference that I went to… now I’m the person that people see and they get really excited, because I’ve written the things that they’ve read. I’ve made some videos that they’ve enjoyed, and now I’m the person inspiring them. And it’s a super honor for me. I’m so happy to be there.

The real key I want you to have is to dream as big as you could possibly dream. Be bolder and bigger in your dreams than I was in the beginning. I think I would have gotten here quicker, or it would have been smoother. I certainly think it was something that I wish I had done.

If you want to write books, if you wanna give keynotes, do a Ted talk. If you wanna build a following, you wanna be an influencer, you wanna make a big difference in this field and in this world, then believe that you can do it, because you can.

The only thing I’ll tell you is this field needs you. This field really, really needs you. We struggle a lot in our field with diversity and allowing other voices to shine and to share. I know that because I don’t look like everybody else in my field and I have experienced tremendous pushback from certain corners of our field. And I’ve won, I’ve outlasted them, I’ve overcome those obstacles, and I want you to be able to do the same thing because this field needs your voice.

So the message I want to have for you today is to dream big, in life, in your career, in your work.

These days I’m in LA a lot, working on my TV project, and I spend time around people that have accomplished some amazing things in the entertainment industry. If you ask me, “What’s the difference between those people that have been really successful in that area, and people in other areas of life?” They’re not any better. They’re not any different. They’re regular people who have the audacity to dream way bigger than typical people dream.

When you dream that big and you start to believe in the power of your dream, then amazing things can happen. That’s really what I want for you. So dream big, have the power to believe in those dreams and watch your life transform.