The Dream

“I wasn’t feigning confidence; I really was confident. I was sure that my plan would work and that it would work exactly in this way. Looking back, it seems somewhat astounding that anyone would take me seriously. But at the time I didn’t see any reason for these funders to doubt me.” – Wendy Kopp from one day, all children…

I was thinking more about why the article I mentioned yesterday moved me as much as it did. Besides the rush of reading about someone who just learned all he could about every aspect of a business he was interested in starting, I found another characteristic that I decided is a common aspect among some successful people.

So you want to start your own company? You want to write the Great American Novel? You want to win the Nobel Prize? You want to. You really want to. You can feel it. You can taste it. But you’re also worried. Is it going to work? What if it doesn’t work? What if it’s all just a pipe dream? What if you’re giving up the comfort of daily life and delving into uncharted territory just to find yourself miserable, lonely, and penniless in a few years?

You get scared. You want some sort of guarantee. You want someone to tell you whether your sacrifice will be worthwhile. Is it going to work or is it just a pipedream? You’re willing to shake up the status quo but only if the hard work promises to eventually pay off.

Here’s the answer to whether your idea will work: it will, if you think it will.

Sounds trite?

Well, it appears the common trend amongst people, who’ve succeeded when others hadn’t expected them to, is that they didn’t know their goal was unreachable. The guy who started his hedge fund at 18 didn’t realize it was a big deal. He wanted to make money. He found a way and it made a lot of sense. Whoever said that it was hard to start a hedge fund and nearly impossible to sustain success for many years, had obviously not mentioned all this difficulty to this boy.

Same goes for above-quoted Wendy Kopp, who started Teach For America. She said the only reason it succeeded was because she didn’t know it was impossible. She believed in it wholeheartedly. It made perfect sense to her. Why wouldn’t it succeed? She was too naive.

That’s what’s missing in most of us: childlike naivete. We are too practical. We have a long list of reasons why we can’t quit our stable job. Why we can’t pursue a dream. It’s not real after all; it’s just a dream. We toy with the idea of chasing after it each time we drink a lot or have an exceptionally bad day at work. But no more than that. Each year, it becomes even harder to imagine going for it. We’re grown ups now; there’s no room for daydreaming in the real world. We bury the dream and push it lower with every passing year.

I don’t want to speak on behalf of you; I can only speak for myself. Maybe you do chase after your dreams. Maybe you have no dreams. Maybe you’re already living your dream. All I know is that it’s been too long since I’ve even heard that little voice inside of me, let alone considered listening to it. I buried mine so deep that I’m not even sure it’s around anymore.

Maybe it’s time to start drinking.

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