Dear all parents and friends,
Do you remember when your child was 4, 5, 10, or maybe 12 years old? Do you remember when you were 4, 5, 10, or 12 years old?
We like to ask children what they want to be when they grow up, and sometimes they come out with the “usual” things, like a doctor, fireman, policeman, or teacher.
And sometimes, we encounter children who may be a bit more daring and say things like, an astronaut, marine biologist, rocket scientist, or mayor.
As their parents and friends, we might smile and agree that’s what they should be. When children share their dreams with us, we tend to encourage them. We don’t bash it down, or tell them that they can’t do that.
So my question for all of us is this: why oh why when someone in their 20s, 30s, or 40s comes to us to share their bold desire to change careers, or make some other game-changing adjustment in their life, do we shatter their dreams?
Why do we focus on telling them all the reasons why it won’t work, asking questions like, “How are you going to make money doing this?” “Where will you get your clients from?” “Where is your business plan?”
While these kinds of questions may come from a place of care and concern, why can’t we also smile and encourage our dreaming daughters, sons, and friends? Why can’t we congratulate them on taking a step toward realizing their dreams and honoring their talents?
Why can children dream, but adults need to be shoved into boxes of success and safety?
If we did not have the dreamers like Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, Maya Angelou, Oprah Winfrey, Brett Shuttleworth, and Donna McCallum, where would we be? What would have happened if these influential folks had listened to the people closest and dearest to them saying, “You can’t do that,” “That is not a career,” or “Who is going to pay you to do that?”
We need dreamers in this world, especially in this time of chaos and Covid. We need people to help guide us in new and unprecedented ways to be the best version of ourselves—to encourage us to keep the faith that all will be well again.
Now I also know we should be careful to not take on the victim mentality, realizing that all we need lies within, and that we do not need to look to others for validation and acceptance of what it is we truly want to do with our life. However, support from family and friends helps make these life-altering decisions feel less scary.
If you’re the parent of an adult dreamer, remember there is still a child within this person who is excited about the possibility of making a difference in the world, who cares about your approval and encouragement, and who wants you to be proud of them.
My advice to parents and peers is simply this: please don’t crush the dreamers in your lives.
Even if you don’t fully understand what it is they are wanting to do, remember the “child” within—nurture and support that child. You could even do some research yourself on what it is they actually want to do so that you have a better understanding of the final goal.