Why I Didn’t Like Bob Goff

I’m not a dreamer.  It’s not that I don’t ever dream.  It’s just that I don’t let myself live in dreamland.  I prefer to live in reality.  What is possible.  What can be done.

Maybe it’s really about living in what I perceive I can control??

That’s why people like Bob Goff and books like Love Does make me uncomfortable.  Bob’s a dreamer and his book encourages people to live outside the bounds of reality.

Several years ago I was working on a marketing team for a big project our company was launching.  The consultant we hired challenged each of us dream up the biggest idea that we could think of to promote the project.  And playing to our competitive nature he motivated us with a pretty significant prize for the best idea.  A couple of weeks later we reconvened to share our big ideas.  Person by person we went around the table.  There were truly some amazing ideas and a few that were so audacious there was no way that they would be possible.  After some duration of time, the consultant and our boss chose the winner.  To my utter dismay they awarded the grand prize to the guy whose idea I believed had the least chance of being possible!  It wasn’t that I didn’t believe in the idea.  It was just that there was actually a legal reason why we couldn’t do what he wanted to do.

That day made me really mad at the dreamers… at least the dreamers who never live in reality.  We never did implement the grand prize winning idea which further solidified in my mind that crazy dreaming doesn’t serve a very useful purpose.

This is why I was sure I was not going to like Bob Goff.  Everything I had heard about him suggested that he rewards dreamers.

Yes, Bob definitely rewards dreamers but more importantly he shares how he has beckoned dreams to reality.  He knows how to shake off the pressure of conventionality and embrace the whimsy of a dream.  He doesn’t shirk responsibility but he doesn’t allow himself to become bound to unnecessarily imposed responsibility.  He sees God as a friend and companion… someone who is for him and with him… a God who believes in dreams and makes way for the seemingly impossible.

Technically I don’t know Bob Goff yet but if what he’s written is true about him (the skeptic in me still has trouble believing people like him are real)… if he’s lived with the whimsy and wonder and passion that he talks about, I want to be like that too.

Frankly, I picked up a copy of Love Does because everyone was talking about it.  I was pretty sure it would feel fluffy and happy and unrealistic.  But instead I’ve found myself questioning the boundaries I’ve built about what’s possible.

Could it be that God is just waiting for me to dream big enough for Him to show up in my life in extraordinary ways?

Could this realist find more purpose in dreaming?

Those are the questions Bob’s got me thinking as I reluctantly close the back cover secretly wishing for more stories.  When I meet him, I’m pretty sure I’m gonna actually like him!

Have you let yourself become bound by reality rather than free to dream?  What would it look like if you did what Bob suggests and “discover a secretly incredible life in an ordinary world”?

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  • Aaron July 27, 2012   Reply →

    Oh Jenni, I absolutely loved this book. Quite honestly it was the best book I’ve ever read. To your point, I’m a dreamer. I loved most that he has lived his life and found God in the moments of “whimsy”. I trumpet the praises of this book to anyone that will listen and continue to return to my underlines over and over again. So glad you go to read it. Long live the dreamers :)

  • Amy Bennett July 27, 2012   Reply →

    I loved this, Jenni.  I felt the same way.  In my review a few months ago I said the same things…”are people really living like this”, “this scares me”.  Dreaming feels the same way to me but I just loved the book and this way of life that seems so out of touch to me.

    • Jenni Catron July 27, 2012   Reply →

      Sounds like we need to challenge each other to dream more, Amy! It’s definitely a stretch.

  • Charlie Waldburger July 27, 2012   Reply →

    Spot on Jenni. 

    I’ve always seen my pragmatism and practical outlook as essential in my various roles in operations and administration. Sort of, ‘a badge of honor’ because I see how things really are. But I’ve realized what I call realism, is generally pessimism and speaks more to a lack of faith, than it does to healthy leadership. 

    Glad you found Bob’s book.  

  • Traceepersiko July 27, 2012   Reply →

    Love this! There is a definite tension between believing in a bigger God and my own abilities. If I’m most honest, I struggle to believe that God has something bigger than me, for me.

    I’m a dreamer. I see the what could be. My own abilities paralyze me. Choosing faith and waiting well are my tensions right now.

  • Holly Moore July 27, 2012   Reply →

    Jenni….thanks for your honesty in this post, and voicing some of my own thoughts and fears when it comes to dreaming.  I can tend to lean far to the side of being practical and thinking of how I could implement something before fully dreaming.  I appreciate you and your leadership.  Thanks for being one of my mentors from afar through your writing :)

    Holly Moore (Growing Leaders)

  • Alece July 27, 2012   Reply →

    I can so relate, Jenni! I love to dream, but with my feet firmly planted
    in reality while I do. (I would have been just as frustrated at the
    outcome of that competition — even more so when the plan never even got

    I’ve seen God do incredible things and want my dreams to always have the
    element of impossible-without-Him in them. I need to give myself more
    freedom and grace to fail and fall and miss the mark. I think that’s
    hardest part for me about non-practical dreams. My impossible
    self-standard of perfectionism turns my realism/practicalism to
    quicksand and keeps me stuck. It also seems to have morphed into pessimism. And I hate that. 
    The dark valley of the past few years seems to have atrophied my dreamer muscle. I used to love imagining and strategizing about where we could take things and how we could impact more people through our ministry. I’m in a much healthier place now than I’m crawling out of the valley, but I still haven’t really regained my ability to dream. I miss that about myself. My copy of Love Does just arrived today in fact. I’m excited to read it and see how God uses that to reawaken the dreamer in me. 

    • Jenni Catron July 27, 2012   Reply →

      Alece, thanks for sharing and for understanding my bitterness over that competition :)

      Praying for the dreamer in you to reemerge. God’s not done!

  • Amy Jean July 27, 2012   Reply →

    This concrete realist loves this post. :)  I am right there with you, and I am married to a dreamer! Trying to embrace dreaming big as well.

  • Bryan Allain July 27, 2012   Reply →

    good thoughts, Jenni! I’m about to read this book because, like you, I have heard too much about it to ignore it. Wondering what my take will be in the end…

    at the same time I’m being really challenged right now to dream bigger than I ever have…so maybe this is just the book I need!

    • Jenni Catron July 27, 2012   Reply →

      Bryan, I can’t wait to hear what you think about the book… and I can’t wait to see what dreams God is stirring in you. You are already doing some amazing things!!

  • Margaret July 27, 2012   Reply →

     I read Love Does as well– I’m with you there–definitely pushes me outside me comfort zone! Here’s to dreamers and those of us who may find that dreaming big is exactly what God is waiting for

  • Hilary July 27, 2012   Reply →

    I loved the book. Loved it. But I’m a dreamer. The only thing I thought perhaps negatively about Bob’s stories in relation to mine is that he sure has a lot more money than I do to do incredible things with, and if I had the money he does I’m sure I’d be able to write a book as cool as his! That just leads me to dream about ways to finance dreams, though, so it’s all good. :-)

  • Tammy Helfrich July 30, 2012   Reply →

    Great review. I wrote in my review how Bob Goff irritated me because he made me realize many of the same things. I loved this book and have challenged myself to dream bigger and to stop putting God in the little square box that I have for so long. Thanks for your honest post!

  • Louise Tischhauser August 5, 2012   Reply →

    My thoughts exactly! Was at Don Miller’s Storyline gathering in Portland w/ special guest the whimsically , wonderful Bob Goff. He is a One and An Only. Wouldn’t have believed the book totally if I hadn’t seen the flesh man. I am a fan !!

  • Ted August 8, 2012   Reply →

    Great post. As another writer noted, Bob has more money than many of us…but….its not what you have, but what you do with it. He started small on the Restore caper and let it grow. This is consistent with many other dreamers: a series of small changes at the margin, if well placed, trigger ripples in the pond. I just finished the book and am signing off now to start my next caper.

  • Daneen Leidig August 23, 2012   Reply →

    Jenni thank you for sharing your authentic journey of exploring if Bob really DOES love!  I lived in Gulu, Uganda.  I’m a huge fan of Restore International. I know Bob; he really does love and acts on the things he cares about.   I adore the students at Restore Leadership Academy- they are my friends and they are filled with hope, character and love!  Check out Restore http://www.restoreinternational.org/ and become a fan, not of Bob but, of the stories of the students of Restore! This video gives a fabulous overview of the story behind Restore- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K3PrkjMttSY&feature=plcp

  • Mike Asbury February 14, 2013   Reply →

    I loved the book!  I discovered it quite by accident, and really am glad that I did!  When you *do* get a chance to meet Bob, I hope you’ll let me in on the lunch invitation!  Great write up on his book, BTW.  -Mike

  • Paul Paradiso March 30, 2014   Reply →

    “Dreams” will come as a reality if you believe in them. You are a product of your thoughts, as well as a product of a god. Believe and you will achieve. Bob Goff’s book was excellent, and it was the definition of a ‘realist’ from my perspective.

  • Tami Mado May 21, 2016   Reply →

    Hey Jenni! Thanks for reading my comment, but sorry you got burned by a dreamer, but hope ur able to forgive, let it go and take one small step towards letting your creativity and imagination be limitless like a child. Don’t let that one experience steal from the limitless imagination we were all created with! I was like you, a realist, and scoffed at the dreamers…until I discovered who God really was and what He was really like, I’m not a bible thumpin, judgemental crazy Christian like sadly some are…I’ve come to know god like a friend and I guess I kinda got tired of giving fear so much of a place in my life. So little by little god gave me ideas to dream for, shoot for and I’ve seen more “success” from taking leaps of faith than shrinking back into fear. So all the best on your journey of life, on spreading your wings and flying!

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