You know those conversations that take a total of 2 minutes, but stick with you for hours and hours after? I had this amazing conversation today with a teenager who is entering those exciting years of their life where everything is a new possibility for where they might find success. We were talking about dreams/goals for 2017 and this teen’s dream is to be the best in their class and to win a particular competition.
I suggested perhaps there could be other dreams/goals for 2017 that are completely within their control… Not an action that requires a competition to decide or a ranking to prove (because there’s always going to be some better and worse than us). I suggested a goal like the number of hours of practice each week, spending time actually enjoying the task at hand.
Well the conversation didn’t end very well because to this young, ambitious firecracker, it felt like I was raining on their parade of big dreams. This teenager was just going to do what needed to be done to be the best and win – and that’s that. Why bother with menial stuff like focussing on practice hours?
I want so much for those big dreams to come true. But I also wanted to share a leg up in life – big dreams are actually arrived at by process. I wish I knew that earlier. I wish I was choosing things as a teen because I enjoyed the actual task, not just the outcome.
Process isn’t just getting to an outcome, it’s learning to be on the journey, it’s learning to learn, it’s learning to master, it’s being ok with failures and triumphs along the way, and realising that there is no destination – there is no end because it’s all part of the process.
The thing that’s stuck in my mind from this conversation is my background knowledge about this teen. They are desperate to be heard – desperate for success so that they can claim their worth. But without this building block of knowing how to engage in process, every new dream for this teen is like a ‘get rich quick’ (or more like get skills quick) scheme. And when they inevitably give up after not getting their big dream outcome, it’s another punch to their already fragile gut.
This hasn’t been sitting well with me, because not everyone can have the privilege of years of musical lessons, or sports coaching, or language lessons. These seem to me as a common place for children to learn the starter skills of process, and without those experiences or similar influences in someone’s life, where can they learn process fundamentals?
I don’t know.
But what I do know is that my tact will change, because I love talking to people about their pursuits. I’m going to start pronouncing that silent word that follows the phrase ‘Dream Big’. Because the real phrase, and the real path, to achieving goals and dreams is to dream big process.
I guess that’s where my head will have to rest at for the moment.
What do you think? How can the joy of process be shared if the glory of outcome is all we talk about? And what would you say to this teen?