I am a firm believer that everybody should have a dream
A dream of what they would like to achieve
As someone who can often be described as a motivational speaker I think it is important to provide content in my presentations that encourage those listening. To inspire. To lift up.
This kind of inspiration comes with a caveat.
I REFUSE to tell people to follow their dream without a sense of context. This context is that they should push hard for what they want to achieve and realise it is a combination of hard work, talent, skills, network and sometimes luck.
When I first embarked on my journey as a speaker a lot of my style was influenced by the rhetoric of dynamic preachers and motivational speakers. I loved the way they could make you believe that anything was possible. I still love the charisma and encouragement they provide, but we part on one area. I refuse to tell anyone they can be anything they want to be.
Do Dreams Have A Sell by Date
As a general rule no, but some dreams do.
Some dreams are limited by opportunity, age, location and of course scarcity.
I meet and speak to hundreds of young people who desire to be athletes, entertainers, astronauts, entrepreneurs and entertainers. I encourage them to strive for excellence. To build on the skills and talents they have but also to understand that it is very, very competitive world. That sometimes success will depend on timing, being in the right place at the right time, damn persistence and no one is successful on their own.
That a dream will keep the fire alive of what they wan’t to achieve, but a plan is what is needed to carry out the dream. I have this caveat because I have seen so many people, young and old, think that positive thinking alone is going to be the reason they will achieve something. Some dude(ette) tells them they can achieve anything, when the hype is done and they have no tools, it can be a struggle helping them to cope with the nightmare.
Each to their own, but this is my caveat.
Optimism or Pragmatism?
Does this mean that people shouldn’t dream?
Of course not, but prayers, walking over hot coals and getting hyped by a charismatic speaker is not enough.
I have presented on TV. I am a TED Fellow. Have travelled the world as a speaker. Met and interviewed Sir Richard Branson and probably experienced some things in my life that others have dreamed of. Of that list presenting on TV was the only one on that list that was a dream of mine.
I have been fortunate enough to be in the right place at the time.
Added to this I have had very supportive parents, an environment of people who totally encouraged excellence. Although I don’t speak it about as much I have also had to endure some horrible racism, both overt and covert which seriously dented my confidence.
This hasn’t stopped me from having dreams but makes me quite pragmatic as to how I see the world and the advice I would give to others. I am especially sensitive to those who don’t have the supportive infrastructure that I have and that most successful people who are put up as role models have as well.
Dreams with Context
Our civilisation has thrived on dreams.
Many of my historical heroes overcame slavery and abject poverty to get where they were and turned the world upside down. I am both inspired by those who buck the trend and made their mark in history.
Thing is outliers aren’t the norm. Otherwise they wouldn’t be outliers.
Maybe I should be more positive. Optimistic. So here goes.
If people want to tell people they can do anything they want I am happy for them to do so.
Here is my thing. Show them how. Demonstrate how you have done anything you wanted to.
At least then they have a template and not just empty words.