One of the hardest challenges to overcome in my life has been the voice of reason coming from my parents, elders, mentors, wife, and friends.
I am a dreamer. I dream big. Well, I didn’t always dream big, but I do now. Whether I believed in the dream or not, I began dreaming big as I worked in my first job as a mortgage clerk after college. There were two dreams I spent countless hours and reams of printing paper on: owning a used Lexus and buying my very own island.
To clarify, I wasn’t daydreaming about $10 million, $50 million, or $100 million islands. I was budget conscious in my dreaming, keeping a limit of $250K, and spending more time looking at the low end islands.
I think you’ll identify with this:
“Being realistic is the most commonly traveled road to mediocrity.” – Will Smith
Conventional wisdom is fraught with traps. The conventional way IS safe, but at what cost? Independence? Individuality? Self-Expression?
What is more important? Avoiding risk or being true to yourself? You’ll learn a lot about yourself and others by how you answer that question.
I grew up with a ton of conventional wisdom advice. Despite a brief rebellious streak in high school, I’ve played it safe most of my life. And as long as I have, something has been dying and crying out for more on the inside. Yes, I might have more money. Yes, I might have a better reputation or standing in the community. Yes, I might be liked by more people. But if I never express myself as I truly am, I have gained acceptance by being false. I have received benefits for lying. And that’s not who I am.
So? Am I being a visionary? Or am I just unrealistic?
This question has plagued me throughout my adult life. I earned a reputation of being a dreamer with no clear grasp on reality or the consequences of dreaming without being realistic. With issues like ADD and others, I learned to see myself as damaged goods. Never underestimate the power of agreement. As soon as I received a diagnosis that I accepted, I began to see myself differently. I lowered my expectations for myself. I treated myself with kid gloves. And for a while, I couldn’t tell whether I my latest dream of the future was justifiably unrealistic or the result of some sort of internal disconnect.
So when you step out into the realms beyond conventional wisdom, you will encounter resistance. And this resistance will be most effective when it is incorporates at least a shred of proof. When your past failures are used against you by those you love, your faith in the dream will be tested. Are you who you say you are? Or are you who they say you are?
I think ultimately you can answer that question with your actions. You either do something to back up your dream and launch into your destiny, or you talk and talk and talk and make excuses for why it never happens. That’s when you find out what you’re truly made of.
*Thanks to LifeHacker for inspiring this post with their coverage of the Will Smith video.