Weeks in a row of sleepless nights. Stress, conflict, strained relationships. No social life, terrible diet. Racked brain, philosophical despair. All in the name of a project. Pushing for a huge deadline, kicking and screaming. Crossing the finish line at 4am and dropping dead to a deserved full night sleep. The punchline? Waking up and wanting to do it all over again. If that’s not passion, I don’t know what is.
“Surround yourself with people who believe in your dreams.” I love the quote, but it predisposes that you already have dreams outlined. When your dreams are not yet refined, surround yourself with other dreamers. Live and breathe conversation and collaboration with people who embrace lofty ideas, live outside of themselves and strive to change the world. Through these relationships, you can shape an actionable vision and live out your purpose. That’s a huge deal.
Many Gen Y folks (myself included) challenge the value of higher education. One irrefutable benefit to attending a university, however, is the opportunity to meet and foster relationships with other dreamers. College, above all else, is a forum to explore and learn. In few other places can you share in the joy of discovery or higher thinking with others.
Even with your dreams defined, always keep good company with people equipped to make a difference. Dreamers roll with other dreamers.
by William Arthur Ward
To laugh is to risk appearing a fool, To weep is to risk appearing sentimental.
To reach out to another is to risk involvement, To expose feelings is to risk exposing your true self.
To place your ideas and dreams before a crowd is to risk their loss.
To love is to risk not being loved in return, To live is to risk dying, To hope is to risk despair, To try is to risk failure.
But risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.
The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing.
He may avoid suffering and sorrow, But he cannot learn, feel, change, grow or live.
Chained by his servitude he is a slave who has forfeited all freedom.
Only a person who risks is free.
The pessimist complains about the wind;
The optimist expects it to change;
And the realist adjusts the sails.
The goal isn’t to make money; the goal is to exist. Once you’ve figured that part out, the next goal is to exist longer. Once you realize no one lives forever, the ultimate goal is to leave a legacy.
The only way you can leave a legacy is if you concern yourself less with profit and more with giving life all you’ve got. Sure, you should have a plan to make money. But if greatness comes first on your priority list, then have faith that the rest will follow.
You do not achieve goals by taking breaks here and there, chipping away when you feel like it. You achieve goals by consistently persisting forward and never taking a day off. Thirty minutes per day yields better results than three hours once per week. If you take a break, you will lose momentum. Lose momentum, and your passion project may fade to the back of your mind. You will lose.
If your mission is tied to your very core, then maybe you can survive output droughts. To intertwine your mission to your core in the first place, you need to consistently believe in it. There are feature films I have wanted to produce since I was eleven years old. I have no polished screenplays or financing to show for them, no plans to produce anytime soon. I touch these projects once every few months at best. But I wake up at night after dreaming about them every so often. They will not leave me alone. To make the films, however, I need to commit. I will need to start making daily progress to finish them. They will never get made otherwise.
If you want to leave a legacy before you go, push personal needs and wants to the back burner. Live life for a higher context – if not for humanity, then for your community, friends, and family. See past your own problems and look into the problems of others. Make it your mission to heal the wounds of the world. Target a problem you believe you can solve with your talents, and do not rest until the job is done.
The world will notice. Before long, your needs and wants will be fulfilled in thanks. Your deeds will enrich lives, your name will live on, and life will be good. But only if you do it for others, not yourself.
What’s the point of telling people your goals?
You could tell to collect feedback or talk it out. But do you really want to risk someone dissuading you or talking down? It could hurt your goal.
You could tell to seek praise. But you haven’t succeeded yet, so what is there to praise? Few people in your life will really care enough to give you the glowing support you are looking for. The lukewarm response might put you down and choke your inspiration. It could hurt your goal.
You could tell to keep people updated or manage expectations. But what if your plans conflict with the interests of others? They might try to talk you out of it. If you mislead others with your plans and then fail, you can damage your relationships. The pressure and uncertainty can bog you down. It could hurt your goal.
You could tell to have others hold you accountable. But what stake do other people really have in your goal? Are they reliable? By passing off accountability for your goal to another person, you pass off responsibility for your goal and distance yourself from it. It could hurt your goal.
Think hard before sharing your plans with others. Depending on who you are sharing with and the reason why, it could be a good idea – or it could be fatal. I am often guilty of sharing my plans without purpose, and I am beginning to notice effects.
By telling other people, you separate yourself from your goals (as if you already accomplished them … but you haven’t). You only make it harder for yourself to succeed.
Anthropologist Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
There is no such thing as a one man show. No single individual can truly bring about change or an impact on his or her own. One may be able to initiate alone, but it takes at least two to see things through. It requires resources, time and talent beyond our personal scope to really make a difference in this world.
Get over it. Stop focusing on what you can do. Focus on what we can do together. Find your place in the talent pool, surround yourself with disparate skill sets, and venture out to do good together. There is no “i” in “team.”