Sitting in a 95ºF arena with sweat dripping from all the godforsaken parts of my body I find myself listening intently to my nephew, Anthony Martinez as he is delivering his graduation speech to the student body as his school's valedictorian. He is not a super talkative guy generally speaking, but nonetheless he's mustered the energy to nervously address the parents, grandparents, cousins, brothers and sisters who have come out to celebrate this pivotal moment in the life of their respective graduate. He begins by delivering the business-as-usual thanks and platitudes to his comrades cracking some jokes along the way to scattered hoots and hollers from the stands. But then his tone changed and the message he chose to leave his classmates with is "It's OK. Give up on your dreams."
At first blush the crowd falls silent. "What the hell did he just say?" I hear in the stands behind me, audible murmurs all around. Anthony proceeds to offer an inspirational message encouraging his fellow grads to be strong enough to fight through adversity and when ones dream is shattered-and it will be-or directions change be powerful enough to persevere, assuage feelings of defeat and adapt to whats next. You could cut the tension at the beginning of the talk with a knife. It was palpable. A lot of people got super introspective super fast-and that was met with anger, or resistance, or discomfort albeit momentarily. Its a hard message to hear until you realize its actually in your best interest to do just that.
We are commonly asked to make a plans or choose directions long before we are actually capable of making decisions. This practice can set an aspirational bar or expectation that is easily and often not met leading to feelings of insecurity that can affect our decision making process, hinder growth and simply put, do more harm than good. But what if we taught that it's actually OK to not know at the same time and allowed room for hopes and dreams to evolve and change as we do.
As children we are asked what we'd like to be when we grow up and are often met with astronaut, policeman, fireman, teacher, basketball player, veterinarian or motherfucking hustler. Not a lot of plumbers, architects, systems analysts, front-end developers or directors of account services in there. The point I'm trying to illustrate is as a child, a high-school graduate and even well into adulthood we are gathering the necessary information in order to make those kinds of decisions-and its a moving target. I'm not saying we shouldn't play this game with kids or allow them to aspire-we should-but letting them know that its OK if it doesn't work out is a wildly important caveat.
Dreams are important. Supremely. They are the things that drive great people to achieve great things so I don't mean to cheapen them. Most dreams however typically feature the place you aspire to arrive at, not the path getting there. They include the flat black Lamborghini Centenario not the 80-hour weeks worked for a decade invested to be able to buy that car. It is for that reason we must prepare our children and get our own minds right. We cannot know all the variables it will take to achieve a particular dream therefore its is paramount that we instill a confidence in ourselves and others that failure and shattered dreams are just part of the process, expected, anticipated-and ultimately overcome.
It's not going to be easy, but it will be worth it. In Anthony's closing words, "buena suerte y hasta luego."
Are you a dreamer? A doer also? I would love to hear your thoughts and insights. Please comment below and share what you have learned or techniques you employ that have made significant positive impact in your life or business.