It’s easy to let life happen and dampen our dreams. For many, it’s even harder to dream at all now because of the uncertainty of what will happen next. Put your head down, eyes to the screen and march on has become the call of the virtual office warrior.
We are taught to be practical in pursuing our goals. Before we can ever allow our passions to blossom and our dreams to be felt on a visceral level, we are often discouraged from going after “something so impractical.” As you read this last statement, perhaps you can hear a naysayer from your life that discouraged you from your “road not taken.”
I’d like to share two true stories in hopes that you will open yourself up to a passion or talent that you have back-burnered as impractical or impossible.
A video of Nigeria’s Madu Mmesoma Anthony, 11, went viral recently. In it he makes beautiful ballet moves barefoot on rough pavement amid a downpour. NPR featured his story and compared his dance to Gene Kelly’s classic performance of Singing in the Rain. Madu’s passion for ballet overrode any concern he had for what’s practical.
Here’s what Leap of Dance Academy and Madu said in a recent Instagram post:
“Everyone must have had a time when they wanted to quit because someone thought it wasn’t right for them to do what they were doing or just to spite them or even to take them off the path God has planned for them. There were moments we didn’t want to continue, the reasons to stop was so evident. But we continued, not because we were stronger or better but because we have passion. There were moments of…….you shouldn’t do this because you are black, (Nigerian) underprivileged and you wouldn’t make it to the professional stage. But we continued.”
Madu’s efforts didn’t go unnoticed. He’s been offered a scholarship from the American Ballet Theatre and starts this year. Dreams can come true by staying committed and resilient.
You might say, “Well, that’s easy for an eleven-year-old, what does he have to lose?” I’m sure others in Madu’s environment could respond quickly with the downsides. Another example appears in my book, Seizing Success: A Woman’s Guide to Transformational Leadership.
Many women are busy trying to meet others’ needs or expectations at work and at home. They often don’t invest the time they need in themselves to discover who they are, what brings them joy, and how to create success for themselves in the world. When I first met Holly, she didn’t yet realize just how badly she needed a career change. Holly held a senior director’s position with a large company. Her work focused on marketing strategy and sales in the technology space. She was good at it, but she wasn’t fulfilled.
Holly felt trapped in her job. She is a single parent and the main source of support for her teenage daughter. The thought of leaving her well-paid position with health benefits to do something else was overwhelming.
When Holly let herself dream, she remembered how much she loved baking cookies and arranging them in creative ways. She saw in her mind’s eye cookies in colorful letters, word puzzles, and even company logos. She loved to make cookies, especially around the holidays. Her family and friends raved about her delicious, attractively decorated creations.
“What if I left my demanding job and started my own cookie-baking company?” she asked herself. Then reality set in and she stopped daydreaming. Holly continued in her day-to-day routine, feeling torn between her passion and her responsibilities.
Finally, Holly dipped her toe in the water and started baking on the side. She used her marketing skills to develop a business plan and began bringing in bigger and bigger orders. Holly left her full-time job to start her own “confectionary communications company,” Eatyourwordscookies.com, which focuses on word messages of all kinds, from “Happy Big Birthday” to “Congratulations on your Retirement.” She also transforms her cookies into corporate logos for high-profile business events and gits for employees.
What’s calling you right now and will you give yourself the time to explore it? I hope you do.