Anything You Want to Be Achieving more; but not the impossible BY: Troy Murphy | October 2016
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Dream killers! They’re out there. Some want us to fail, under the guise of logic, give endless reasons to not follow our dreams. Any great achievement requires working through the resistance. Drifting from well-trodden paths, draws attention, and invites discouraging remarks. Perhaps creative and courageous ventures are threatening. “People don’t do that!” they chide. But not all criticism, even discouraging comments, are without merit. Discounting all criticism can be hazardous; some discouragement is grounded in wisdom. In order to accomplish anything, we must first imagine it; but not everything imagined can be accomplished. Some thinking is magical—even foolish. Many sacrifice wisdom, follow impossible dreams, and crash in painful disappointment.
We unconsciously avoid facts that dampen dreams. Readjusting dreams is tiresome; we lose the emotional spark lit by the bright hope of escaping the ordinary of today. Yet by ignoring wisdom, we invite costly consequence.
Many bright young men and women choose careers based on the glamour achieved by the most successful people in that field—the few veering from the crowd. We love stories exposing the lives of the fabulous few. These success stories create friendly fodder for dreams. We delight in the hero who ignores conventional wisdom, surpasses expectations, and achieves greatness. While we glamorize the few, we ignore the majority. The majority who veered from time honored wisdom and failed.
Some careers sparkle. We see those who obtained wealth, fame and fulfillment in desired careers and say, “I want that.” We are dreamers and naturally drift to examples worthy of dreaming about. We can obtain some of these dreams. But the dream alone isn’t enough. The demanding path to success must be reasonably understood. The youthful dreamer—and mature dreamer—often misunderstand the challenges required. The aspiring youngster struggling to finish his fashion degree may find the degree alone doesn’t lead to a high paying career. A deeper investigation reveals the difficult competition, with most of the graduates settling for less glamorous (and underpaid) employment. Market conditions, individual abilities, family connections and capital all influence the height of achievement. Ivanka Trump may run a successful clothing line at high end fashion stores while an equally capable person may not transverse the significant obstacles, settling for middle management at Old Navy.
Should we chase dreams? Absolutely, at least some of them. Each person, each situation, and each dream is different; complexity. Realistic views of abilities, resources, and necessary steps to achieve a dream will guide decisions, and determine the amount of sacrifice. After a thorough investigation, we may return to time honored principles of success—not because we are a quitter but because we are wise.
"We unconsciously avoid facts that dampen dreams. Readjusting dreams is tiresome; we lose the emotional spark lit by the bright hope of escaping the ordinary of today. Yet by ignoring wisdom, we invite costly consequence."
This complexity applies to all—not just young impressionable minds. We are hypnotized by the sweet serenaded, “You can be anything you want to be.” This is not always the case. Certainly, many—If not most—can achieve more but settled with less. But this doesn’t imply there are no limitations. We will never become rich selling a ten-dollar gadget that requires nine-dollars of materials and two hours of labor—no matter how delightful the dream. The business plan is a bust; the numbers don’t add up. Advice from a business consultant might unveil the obvious problem with our business venture. We can ignore the consultant, labeling them as negative and a dream destroyer; but continuing in ignorance will be costly. The discouraging advice can be full of wisdom.
Sometimes dreams are shortcuts, a hope that distracts from the difficult task of succeeding. The long path to success can discourage, draining energy and wearing on confidence. As we stagger through the ordinary, the sweet beckoning of a shortcut is enticing. “You can be rich.” Marketers capitalize on our unrealistic dreams. They tease us, creating a necessity and providing the path—when neither the necessity nor the path exists. We fear missing the chance of a life time so we take costly detours without skeptical examinations. The promised shortcut momentarily provides relief from the dusty paths but dreams based in fairy tale land ultimately fail. Left with the ruins, we are left to gather the shattered pieces of invested time and resources, hopefully wise enough to return to the time-honored paths of success. Some spend a lifetime chasing dreams that never materialize, living on exhilarating dreams of something big to come.
I watched an uncle chase dreams, each new venture promising to be the big one. He stumbled upon moderate success occasionally, only to invest the meager returns in another faulty dream. My father took a different path. He obtained a degree in engineering; he thriftily saved money, wisely invested, and retired. Glamorous, maybe not. Successful, arguably so. I followed his path.
Some opportunities are worthy of great sacrifices. A watchful eye may unveil new avenues. But haphazardly jumping at every attractive side road may lead nowhere. We will never perfectly know which opportunities to chase and which to politely turn down; we must wisely discriminate, seeking wisdom from those with experience. But while waiting for our chance of a life time, we would do well to bank on the time-honored elements of success: education, prudence, and determined hard work.