What if it doesn’t work out?


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Gavin is sitting in class, watching a video about professional athletes who are broke today, and he’s thinking “what about all of the athletes who are successful?”? Why are they focusing on failure? Why do they want me to accept working in an office? He’s engaged. Good questions.

Before diving too deeply into this, a couple of clarifications. This isn’t an anti-school message. Teachers have a daunting task before them and limited time to positively effect kids who spend a lot of time with negative influences outside of school. I think teachers need more resources, time, and flexibility. Gavin and I discussed this as well as his opinion of office jobs and other endeavors. In fairness to him, knowing the type of young man he is, I don’t think he looks down at people who work in an office. Gavin is a nice guy. His comment reflects the identification of a distinct contrast between what he heard at school and what he hears at home. But before we get into that…

I looked up the definition of dream. Noun: an unrealistic or self-deluding fantasy.  Verb: waste one’s time in a lazy, unproductive way. I searched for a more inspiring definition. Noun: a cherished aspiration, ambition, or ideal. No verb indicating dreams to be a good use of time. Why? Because you are free to dream but dreams without action are only good during nap time.

Intentional implies personal ownership of a thought, decision, or action performed with purpose. I meant what I said, thought, or did. Ownership is assigned to me by me. Consider the synonyms: deliberate, calculated, conscious, intended, meant, willful, purposeful, and preconceived. This is not a test. I am not dreaming. Something is happening and I intended it to happen. I am taking responsibility. Right or wrong, good or bad, I am moving forward. What if the decision was a bad one? Is that considered a step backwards? Purely semantics. Decisions move us forward. We can’t go backwards. The lasting impact of any decision will be determined by  the decisions (reactions) that follow. Granted I might make another mistake, make things a little worse, but I had to move forward to do it, and by continuing to move forward I can fix it. Stop worrying about mistakes and the theoretical “steps backward”. I have two decisions in front of me at all times: I can sit here stuck and dreaming or I can move forward with intention in a specific direction. Dreams are good, healthy even, assuming we don’t get stuck dreaming.

Direction is a course along which someone or something moves. Dreams tend to be specific and big in nature. They make us feel small, vulnerable if we fall short. We encourage others to pursue their dreams, emphasize them as the ultimate life achievement. But is it the right thing to do? Particularly with kids? I honestly believe it is insane for anyone to think a seventeen year-old will or should have a defined idea of what she wants to do with the rest of her life. How many kids get pressured into picking a profession, waste a bunch of time and money, only to change directions or worse yet stay the course and get stuck doing something they don’t truly care about? I don’t have statistics but I think the numbers would surprise us.

I don’t pressure my kids to dream, and if they do have a dream, I don’t try to shape what it is. Interests, not dreams, guide them. As a father I encourage our kids to pursue their interests knowing those interests will likely change over time as they grow. Is that bad? Absolutely not. Life is a damn long time. Why pressure kids to make concrete decisions about life when they’re ill-equipped to make them? It feels like we rush kids to grow up but fail to offer a structure supporting said growth. We should slow down, spend more time with them, focus less on far-off destinations, be present, and enjoy the moment.

Intentional Direction. I have an idea where I’m going and why.  I’m interested in it and take responsibility for my actions. I’m guided by what interests me, what I think I want to be. There’s no definitive path beside the path I’m on, and as my interests change so may my path. I am flexible, present, and prepared to adapt as the world and I evolve. I may achieve my dream but won’t be tied to it. As I change my dream my dreams may change and that is ok.

What if it doesn’t work out.

Things will go wrong. We know it… but we don’t like to talk about it much. We avoid the conversation, avoid doing things that may not work out, steer away from scary stuff and play it safe, in safe jobs, far away from things we really want to do.

There is no safe job, there is no safe place, no matter where I go, I will never be able to hide from knowing I could have had a plan, needed to take chances, should have taken chances. What if it doesn’t work out? Try again? Do something else? Ask for help? Change directions? Try harder? Be smarter? Develop a new plan?

All of the above. I should be honored, obligated to fully exercise, the potential I have in this moment. How many people will never have the chance? How many will try, only to have it squashed by a true life tragedy? Most of us will never know the hard things known by those who leave us too soon. I’m not suggesting I will do it for them but I will at least consider the unique opportunity I have for a fleeting moment to fail, wake up tomorrow, and try again.

Dream less, act with intention, and simply point my potential in a direction… not fully known where it will take me. What if it doesn’t work out? I will move forward. I will teach my kids, other kids, and others to be in the moment, but not get too comfortable, or attached to the good or bad within it. We have places to go. We have things to do, things we may have never dreamed we would do… but in the end will probably be the things we were meant to do if we allow ourselves to get there.

I offer this stream of consciousness for your consideration and discussion. #findyourlimits #DHT #thepath


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