Leadership Mind Games

Gerwig 2014-07-09

Do you have a secret dream job? Or some other type of secret? Someplace you’d like to visit? Some hobby you’d like to take up? A particular car you’d like to own? Perhaps you’ve shared your secret with your family or friends, but you haven’t taken any actions toward achieving this secret dream. You’re afraid of ridicule or failure.

My parents will probably cringe that I’m sharing this with you, but when I was a little boy living in the Mojave Desert (California), I had a dream job. And it wasn’t a secret and I told my parents and maybe even my grandparents. I wanted to be a trash collector, a garbage man. I had two Tonka garbage trucks that I thought were super cool. Maybe my cool trucks influenced my dream. Or maybe it was because I only saw the garbage men once a week and I thought they got to play the rest of the week. Or maybe it was because they were allowed to hang off the back of the truck with one hand.

But for whatever reason, I desperately wanted to be a garbage man. As I got older and shared my dream, other kids started laughing at me. They thought I was silly. Surely I’d rather be a policeman, or a fireman, or a Marine (like my dad), or a professional football player. But a garbage man? Soon, I learned it was better to keep my dream a secret. I didn’t tell my friends that I wanted to collect other people’s garbage.

Of course along the way, my dream changed. I don’t exactly remember why, but I decided I’d rather do something else. For a while it was a dentist, then a draftsman (or architect), then an international banker. I learned that some professions were more acceptable than others. The same thing (a type of peer pressure) happened when selecting a university, a job, where to live, etc. You see I learned, like most of you, that some dreams are more acceptable than others. And what’s acceptable can depend on your peer group. Know what I mean?

When I was in elementary school, my family moved to Guam and I was exposed to the Asia-Pacific culture. My classmates, friends, and teammates were from Guam, Japan, China, the Philippines, and other Asian-Pacific islands and countries. Eventually, we moved back to the States. But my dream, my vision, was to one day live in Asia again. It was a dream I shared with some but not all. Most of my social circle thought I should either stay in the US or go to Europe. They weren’t supportive of a move to Asia. It wasn’t a hard secret, but I was careful with whom I shared it. Eventually, I had the opportunity to live and work in the Philippines. It was great. My dream had come true and I felt blessed. Now back in the States, I’d go back in heartbeat. I truly hope each of you have the opportunity to live and achieve your dreams.

So what’s the point of my article this week? It’s simply this, don’t allow others to throw a wet blanket on your parade. Don’t allow others to spoil your dream. Have confidence in your dream and go for it. If you want to be a garbage man, do it. If you want to be an engineer, do it. If you want to live in Asia, do it. Don’t allow others to talk you out of your dreams. Don’t listen to the naysayers and the critics. It’s your life and your dream.

As a leader, do what you can to help other recognize and achieve their dreams. Recognize that everyone’s dreams aren’t the same. Not everyone wants to be a garbage man living in Asia. Maybe your dream is to be a school teacher in Germany. Or a local volunteer in Atlanta. Or a stay-at-home mom in Canada.

The cool thing is that you get to fill in the blanks. You get to dream and make it happen. Don’t let others play mind games with you. Do your homework, pray, prepare, and then make it happen. Have confidence to stand firm when others around you want to be a Negative Nancy. Surround yourself with others who will support your dream.

A note if you’re married: Ask your spouse what dreams they have and then help each other achieve. My wife and I have done this. And we’ve successfully helped each other achieve some of our dreams. We still have some we’re working on. If you’re married, I encourage you to do the same. There’s a lot of fun and satisfaction in achieving dreams and helping others do the same.

Finally, don’t be embarrassed by what you want (assuming it’s honorable). Your dreams belong to you. If you want to travel to South America, great. If you’re a homebody and don’t like travel, great. If you want to be a professional photographer, great. If you’d like to write a book, great. You see, the world is full of various dreams. The key is to accept yours. Don’t live someone else’s life. Live your life. Live your dream.

Note: While living my dream, I had the opportunity to see these monks climbing down a waterfall in the jungles of Cambodia.

As always, the floor is open to your comments, suggestions, thoughts, and feedback.

Dr. is an agent of change and is able to balance the needs of the business and the needs of people. Dr. Gerwig believes and practices the values of performance and delivery of business metrics while simultaneously developing and growing people into leaders. You can contact him at RobertGerwig[at]LeadStrategic.com.

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