Want to chase a dream? Get your eyes checked.


Do you see all those empty seats in this photo?

I do.

I saw them for an hour or so last week at an outdoor restaurant at the Detroit Marriott.

They were impossible to miss. Look how many there are! I see them. You see them. Waitresses saw them.

Do you know who didn’t see them? The guy playing the guitar in the photo.

He didn’t see a single empty chair. The sea of unfilled seats didn’t even cross his vision.

Do you know what he saw?


The chance to play a concert.

A love of songs.

A guitar underneath a summer sky and a wildly fun playlist.

He had what you need if you’re going to chase a dream, selective vision. He was able to look right by all the empty chairs and no shows. He was blind to the audience size.

Instead, he saw opportunity and more than that, the joy of music.

How do I know? Because he put on amazing show. He played like the space was full, belting out great acoustic versions of Depeche Mode, Radiohead and Prince.

Did the chairs fill up as the night went later? Maybe, maybe not, but I’m not sure if this musician would have worried about it.

Long before you play to a full house, regardless of what your dream is, you’re going to play to a lot of empty ones.

Don’t quit. Get your eyes checked and make sure you’ve got selective vision. See what matters, look beyond what doesn’t.

Have you ever felt discouraged by the results of your dream?

  • Margaret
    Posted at 11:20h, 30 July Reply

    Yes! Whether it’s in music, ministry, or writing, I’ve learned to keep my eyes on the craft, on loving what I do and doing it well. As soon as I start to stress about numbers the joy and productivity disappear.

    • Ian
      Posted at 08:43h, 31 July Reply

      Yes, i very much agree with you Margaret. Months back i have been stressing on the numbers that were dropping the youth group that i am running and i almost felt like giving up.But then later i asked my self what really motivated me and indeed it was not supposed to be the numbers.It was God and the craft he gave me.

  • Zechariah
    Posted at 11:25h, 30 July Reply

    Great post Jon. This is so true. I use to produce then stop and look at the results.this made it impossible to not notice empty chairs. Now I am moving and pushing. Guess what? Seeing alot of movement now!

  • Mark Brandon Powell
    Posted at 11:33h, 30 July Reply

    Yes I do, all the time. I know it takes hard work, lots of time, and effort in every sense of the word to get things done, but sometimes it discouraging not seeing the numbers to backup the passion that is put into the work. As an author who writes fiction I have an uphill battle to fight, but that fight is more with me than anything else. I have to market it, I have to write it, I have to edit it, so on and so forth. The “I” part is if I hire someone or not, I still have to find the person, pay them, and make sure the work is what I wanted. So I would love a cheat code but the only code there is, is hustle…up up down down left right left right B A start…Well I had to try.

  • Quing Obillos
    Posted at 11:34h, 30 July Reply

    This is inspiring! Thank you for posting this!

  • Chris Day
    Posted at 11:49h, 30 July Reply

    I love posts like this!

    Question: Have you ever felt discouraged by the results of your dream?
    I did when I first started playing but then I started remember the reassurance God has given me in pursuing this dream of His for me. My discouragement was a great reminder that it’s not about me it’s about what God is doing in me and through me.

    Anymore I don’t mind playing for smaller audiences. Just go out and own the space you have. Be real. Be you.

    • Rhonda Jo Jones
      Posted at 09:15h, 31 July Reply

      Now that’s the purest motive. I agree. I write for His purpose so what does it matter about empty chairs.

  • Brant
    Posted at 12:31h, 30 July Reply

    What an awesome viewpoint Jon. Thank you for inspiring me like you always do. You ought to go to by photography blog sometime at http://www.theworldthrubrantseyes.blogspot.com and see what you have encouraged me to create. I decide to take the plunge and start writing back in January after I read your books Start and Quitter. You’re a good man Jon!

    Thanks again,
    Brant Thompson

    • Brant
      Posted at 09:07h, 02 August Reply

      Thank you Hannah! Jon has a way to make you see things differently. It’s refreshing!


  • Trent Hendricks
    Posted at 13:25h, 30 July Reply

    I feel like I have a lot to say, but I am speaking to an empty room. It is hard not to get discouraged. A change of perspective may be exactly what I need. Thank you for your post.

    • Rhonda Jo Jones
      Posted at 09:12h, 31 July Reply

      I know I have more to say. My voice is not my Children’s books! I can’t expect an audience when I haven’t even finished my work. Now I know…to the work I go! That’s all I need to see.

    • Brant
      Posted at 09:04h, 02 August Reply

      I understand and can feel your pain Trent. Sometimes I feel that I put in so much effort in my blog for just a handful of followers. But don’t give up. Those few followers will multiply over time if you are generous in your content that you put out. Don’t get caught up in the numbers.

      Have a great weekend guys!


  • Camilla
    Posted at 15:41h, 30 July Reply

    Of course I’ve felt discouraged by my dream at times. But then I tell myself it’s okay to have a bad day, shake it off, get up and keep going. And I remind myself of the times when my dream impacted someone else to start or keep going on their dream. I keep going for that person because that’s what matters.

    Great story Jon!

  • Anna
    Posted at 18:03h, 30 July Reply

    I volunteer with a group that does improv for kids in hospitals. It is our unshakable rule that we put on the best show we can, no matter what. One kid in the crowd? We still give 100% because you never, ever know. Just last time we had a kid who refused to speak or make eye contact but after asked her mom to take her picture with us. It’s teaching me a lot about focusing on what I’m doing rather than the results.

  • Theresa @ A Mom in the Making
    Posted at 19:33h, 30 July Reply

    That was the perfect post for me today! I get discouraged when I feel like I’m working insane hours, but not seeing the growth that I want. I truly do love every person that listens to my podcast. Thank you for helping me see it in a new light!

  • Jim
    Posted at 20:30h, 30 July Reply

    You posts were always good, not they’re touching an emotional cord. At least with me!

    Well said…back to MY writing.

  • Judith Heaney-McKee
    Posted at 20:30h, 30 July Reply

    I love this story and your telling of: the chairs, the music, the musician. Beautiful image of a man focused on what he loves and what he was made to do.

    Dreams come with struggle. But we get to choose where we place our focus. And it’s reminders like this that help me make that choice when the seats are more empty than filled.

    Choosing to write another day no matter what the numbers say.

    Thanks, Jon.

  • Chris W. Lawsn
    Posted at 06:25h, 31 July Reply

    Thanks Jon.

    I needed this today. A lot!!

  • Alyssa Padgett
    Posted at 08:30h, 31 July Reply

    Really love this concept. I’m trying to find the balance between staring at my wordpress analytics willing them upward and trying to ignore them completely. Either way, I can’t let my audience, or lack thereof, get me off track from putting on a good show.

  • Rhonda Jo Jones
    Posted at 09:07h, 31 July Reply

    Just what I needed to hear! My Books are selling in person but I got my first returns and the Books are not selling on the shelves of the book stores! I definitely need to focus on finishing my novel because I USED to love to write and don’t know why I worry about it not being good enough NOW. I never let that stop me before!

  • dana
    Posted at 10:23h, 31 July Reply

    Thanks Jon for the inspiring post and for the reminder that is passion and love of the journey (the doing whatever it is) that needs to drive a dream. Love it!

  • Kimanzi Constable
    Posted at 19:43h, 31 July Reply

    Too many times I’ve seen those empty seats when I look at my blog stats, comments and shares on my website. A while back I determined to stop looking and focus on serving and on the fact that I get to do this for a living. It’s made all the difference and has opened the door to some amazing opportunities lately 🙂

  • Tammy Helfrich
    Posted at 07:20h, 01 August Reply

    “See what matters. Look beyond what doesn’t.” SO great!

  • Scott Asai
    Posted at 14:29h, 01 August Reply

    It is really hard NOT to focus on the results, especially when we live in a world where we want it yesterday and I have the tendency to be impatient too. I think focusing on the process is helpful knowing that you’re making progress to where you want to go.

  • Greg
    Posted at 13:43h, 05 August Reply

    I am very discouraged by the results of my dream. I have a video up and I know it is good and I want to explore other avenues with it, unfortunately, it has all but failed to gain any traction (probably mostly due to its inability to be viewed on mobile devices). I would appreciate hearing feedback from ANYONE on what they think. Please?? (Due to copyright “issues” it can only be viewed on non-mobile devices. But I hope you can watch it anyway!)


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