In my stay so far on this earth, one man that has inspired me so much is the US President Barack Obama. Not just by his intelligence, or the fact that he is the first black man to be president of the United States, but the courage and the conviction to pursue his dreams.
There is a story of when Barack was dating his wife, Michelle, she asked her brother to go with him to a basketball game in order to form an opinion of him. During the game, Barack’s future brother-in-law asked him what his ultimate life goal was. Barack replied, “To be the President of the US”. The answer sounded so crazy to Michelle’s brother that he refused to mention it to his sister, seeing that she liked the young man so much and he didn’t want her to leave him. It was inconceivable to him that a black man would become the American President. This was not just the opinion of one man. The generality of black Americans did not see it happening then. Yet, all these did not deter Barack as he went on to have one of the most exciting political campaigns in history and make history as the first American President. This story of a man with conviction of what he wanted to be and what he was passionate about, combined with courage and determination is one I constantly remember to keep me motivated.
I have come to realize that most, if not all people have dreams and ambitions that sound crazy to others. They sound crazy either because no one has done that before or because others around them do not have the size of their dreams. It ends up putting in us a latent fear of failure so strong that we do not even try to reach for our dreams. Eventually, we scale down the size of our dreams to be in conformity with what the world around expects of us. We then end up living mediocre lives, beyond our potentials; or we live unfulfilled lives even if we are in comfort and wealth. It is really a sad thing to watch; even worse to experience.
I believe that in every person, God gives us passions and dreams which are linked to a purpose. The purpose for this purpose is that we use our passions, talents and dreams to serving others. Like I once wrote in this article, an easy way to discovering what one’s purpose is this 3-step test:
- What is that one thing or collection of things you do that comes to you very naturally, in no matter raw a form?
- What are those things that when doing, you lose all track of time and can do for hours without end even without the promise of pay?
- Whenever you dream about yourself in the future, (and we all do), what is that thing or what are those things we continually see yourself doing?
These 3 steps culminate in a job or vocation that achieves your purpose by benefiting others. This might be a job that is not in existence right now or one that very few people around you are involved in. But here is the catch: when God puts those dreams and passions in your heart linked to a purpose, only you feel those passions and envision those dreams. People around you can only notice it, and that is for those who are discerning. That is why it is very easy for them to discourage you about reaching for your dreams.
In spite of this, I believe that no dream is beyond being achieved. Infact, my desire for everyone is that they live to pursue their passions and achieve their dreams. Whenever I meet, hear or read of someone pursuing his or her passions, I get energized myself. But dreaming is not enough – one must also work towards achieving them.
You cannot be passionate about being the best cardiologist in the world and spend most of your time playing Football Manager rather than engrossing yourself in medical knowledge. Also, you cannot delude yourself about being passionate about for what you have absolutely little or no talent in. that is why the first of the 3-step formula to discovering your purpose starts with taking note of that which comes to you naturally.
You have to start where you are to begin to pursue your dreams. If it requires education and reading, throw yourself into it. Find people who are also on or close to your career path and learn from them, either by personal interaction or by reading what they have written. Find a mentor who will help you develop. But most importantly, do not wait until you have everything in order before you start to put into practice what you have learnt and what you desire to do. Remember, perfect is the enemy of done. As you start, you will learn from your mistakes and gain experience more than what books can teach you.
Pursuing your dreams is also more a function of what you should not do than what you should be doing. You have to make the radical decision to say no to engaging yourself in activities that do not fit into your dreams, and would just be a drain of your energy and a distraction. You have to focus on what you are doing.
My last point deals with how to overcome discouragement from those around you. Once you are convinced of what you want to do and where you want to go, talk about it a lot with those closest around you. This not only shows them how serious you are, but also commits yourself to that path. It is said that 9 out of 10 times you voice out your plans and intentions, you go on to achieve them. The next thing is to immediately start working out your dreams, no matter how rough it is initially. If your dream is to one day have a world-class animation studio, start with making roughly animated cartoon sketches on your PC. If your desire is to one day have a world-renowned youth football academy, start with involving yourself with a neighbourhood soccer team. These things go as an indication to those around you about how serious you are. It also visualizes for them what you have been seeing in your mind for a long time, and starts to win their support.
Whatever dreams and passions you have held in your heart for a long time is divinely put for a purpose. Do not let it go to waste. Dare to reach for it. Do not let the fear of missing the ball keep you from playing the game.
Remember, the impossible is most times simply the untried.
Image from sherisalatin.com