As kids we could do anything…be anything. The future was wide open.
Then we became passive -- or rather, life happened around us. People started telling us we couldn’t do some of those things we dreamed of. As we grew from childhood into teenagers, parents transitioned from people who encouraged our dreams into naysayers who pointed out the holes in our dream. They no longer believed we could be a fairy ninja musician that flew on rainbows.
You do not discover the future. You create it with the actions you take today - This Could Help
Then life started to happen to us and it only got worse.
I had a friend who I’ll call Mike. From grade six until the end of high school we were best friends. He was easily the best, most versatile musician I knew. He could learn to play any instrument he set his sights on.
He played well enough that over the summer he’d learn something new and then when school started, the former ‘best’ person in the school band would be demoted because Mike was better.
But, as talented as he was, Mike's parents never believed he could make music a career. They picked something he had a mild interest in, and would only support him in pursuit of that path.
All other paths were shut down.
[Tweet "Why have you let all those other paths get shut down?"]
I had another friend I’ll call Bob. He too was a great musician. He played drums for hours each day.
His parents built him a drum studio and helped him purchase a number of drum kits.
His parents helped him go to drum camp and took him all over to play in any random band that would let him play.
His parents let him make choices and helped him follow through on those choices as best they could.
Can you guess which one of my friends is a studio musician in Nashville, playing with lots of big bands, and which one is a carpenter who struggles to make ends meet?
If you guessed that Mike is the carpenter, you’re right. As I recall it, Mike had more natural talent than Bob but Mike got his dream pushed down so many times he now just lets life happen to him.
The extra sad part is that Mike doesn’t even play anything anymore. When we get right down to it together he feels broken inside when he plays.
Broken because it it reminds him of the potential he left behind.
This isn’t a post about your parents and how they can harm your dreams.
If it were, then we could look at my family and wonder how I've been able to run a successful business for years, while most members of my immediate family regularly experience unemployment and are almost always at risk of losing their houses.
I have two younger brothers and we all grew up in the same family. The difference is that they always talk about how ‘bad things always happen to me’ or ‘nothing ever goes my way’.
Life happens to them.
[Tweet "Be like Chuck Norris and happen to life."]
Yes, there are some things that are simply out of our control. Despite our best efforts we do not control the day we die.
We can try as hard as we want and our children will still choose how to behave. The only thing we can choose then is how we react to good/bad behaviour. Parents may say that their kids make them angry but that’s not the truth, it’s just easy to say.
[Tweet "People don’t ‘make’ you angry - you choose to respond with anger."]
It’s hard to admit you have control. When you look at life in the face and realize you have control and can help create your future, you must also look over the other side and realize that when failure happens, you helped to create that too.
In addition to being trained that our dreams are too crazy, many of us are trained from an early age to believe that failure is bad.
Failure isn’t bad. As Edison is oft quoted as saying:
I didn’t fail to make a light bulb 1000 times, I figured out how not to make it.
When you walk that hard road of realizing you have control and you look failure in the face, the only solution is to find the problem and try to fix it so that next time you don’t fail.
The next time, your efforts will yield success.
This is a harder road to walk. One with no excuses where you admit your failure. But it’s also a more rewarding road to walk.
It’s a road where you can be confident and hold your head high because you are in control. You can affect the outcome of the choose-your-own-adventure book that is your life.
What are you going to do with the control you already have in your life? You don’t have to go find it or wrestle it from the jaws of a dragon.
You already have it. You just have to choose to use it and stop making excuses.