During childhood we were read fairy tales to show us a world of possibilities; that we could do anything no matter what. We dreamed of the kind of person we would be someday. Memories of those stories kept us motivated to carry on when the bullies came, the name calling started, the awkwardness of puberty set in. We knew that someday we’d be the hero/ine. We’d come out on top.
Funny how just when you’re old enough to be able to make fairytales come true, you’re told that you’re living in a fantasy world and it is time to grow up. As a result, you spend the next stage of your life coping with the disillusionment, certain you were cheated out of your shot at happiness, and trying to find workarounds.
It seems like the most successful people somehow manage to weave the two together.
Take Steve Jobs, who was quoted saying, “I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.” I interpret this to mean that it is great to have a dream, but the successful dreamer sticks with the dream until it is brought into reality. This can be applied to more than our careers. It is a way of life. A way of thinking.
Ask yourself this question.
When your optimism for achieving a goal runs out, what do you have left to get you there?
A lot of people will change the goal when their tolerance for waiting for “someday” fades out. They will say, oh well I guess it wasn’t meant to be. On to the next thing (which they hope will be easier to achieve). Successful people persevere with the same goal until it is reached. They dream big, take small steps and simply arrive.
For a long time in my life I thought that I was a very scattered person in terms of my goals. I felt like I had many things I wanted to achieve and they weren’t necessarily related. I often thought I was a failure because of this. I realized later that what you see on the surface is not necessarily the actual goal you are chasing. When I looked deeper, I saw the golden thread that weaved it all together.
Let me give you some examples of what I mean by inviting you on a journey though a part of my life – my college career.
I love to sing. I heard there were tryouts for the coveted spot of lead vocalist of the Big Band. I was a freshman and everyone told me not to bother auditioning because a freshman never gets selected. There were plenty of advanced musicians with more experience and know-how to choose from. I auditioned my heart and soul that day and poured years of pain and passion into every note as I sang a jazzy version of “Summertime” from the opera Porgy and Bess. A week later, I learned that I got the spot. I was the first freshman to do so and I led the way for the next ones.
I was proud but then I thought, what in the world did that have to do with being a Biology major?
The years went on and in my Senior year I wanted an independent study in the Biology dept., but my research idea was dropped by the lead researcher at the last minute due to changing priorities. I was now facing the new reality of failing out of school since that was my whole grade that semester. So, what did I do? I nagged the hell out of every department head in the Science building; Biology, Chemistry, and Physics, with the belief that someone had a project they wanted to get off the ground and were waiting for someone like me to come along and bring it to fruition. Finally, a Physical Chemistry professor took a bite and I said yes, even though I knew it would require some serious crash courses in advanced Microbiology and an understanding of laser technology even before I could begin! So, I found more professors willing to take a chance on me and teach me on the side what I needed to know. I asked for an extension and worked through the summer. I completed the project and not only did I successfully answer the research questions, but I also took it a step further and ended up creating a Biochemistry Lab that was used to help students understand more deeply how this enzyme worked for years to come.
So what’s the point of these examples? How do these seemingly unrelated goals relate to the core message of this post?
Here’s how…lying beneath everything I’ve done my whole life is a burning desire for answers and an unrelenting drive to use my potential to help others reach theirs. I believe this is my purpose. This is what motivates every decision I make and every goal I set. And in that way, no matter what I do on the surface, underneath the main goal remains the same.
Persevering each step of the way is from a commitment to arrive at the destination I’m driven towards. When I’m at my best I can feel the creative sparks flying everywhere. I am dreaming big AND I am making it happen even when people say it is impossible. This is sometimes called, Flow. It occurs every time our passion and purpose align in perfect harmony and we stop thinking and simply do.
You don’t have to compromise your dream of being the hero/ine in your own life just because you’re an adult and there are responsibilities. The greatest responsibility you have is to yourself.
Don’t let anyone ever convince you that growing up equals giving up.
— with love from aneternaltraveler 😉