When he was 10, he'd wanted to be a major league baseball player.
When he was 12, he'd wanted to be a writer.
And when he was 18, he'd wanted to be a manager.
Looking back, it seems the older I watched him get, the dumber he became. Dumber in the sense that he increasingly embraced the world's rules for success. After all, his then 18-year-old mind reasoned, in order to be happy, you have to have lots of money. And the best way to get that seemed to lie in acquiring a well-respected career--isn't that the track that everyone else was following? The ten year old that-he-was had instinctively known all along that playing ball, what he truly loved, would've been his true definition of success. But he wasn't listening.
By the time he was 12, he'd begun to compromise. Writing was fun, he thought, and a little more "realistic" than tackling the long odds of becoming a major leaguer. And wouldn't it be great to make major contributions to the world like the famous writers he studied in school?
But by the time he was 18, fun had been reasoned out of the equation all together. Management was the ticket. Not because he chose it, but because others told him he was good at it. And then there were those raises and promotions, and more positive feedback from companies all too happy to have purchased him to chase their dreams. Isn't this success, he thought, as he judged himself to other's standards.
16 years later, still successful in the eyes of those impressed by titles and business suits, the ten-year-old that he was paid him a surprise visit. Looking at his suit, and then at the kid's baseball dream, all of a sudden he didn't feel successful at all.
What does one do, I thought while I watched him, when one realizes that he'd spent 16 years running in the wrong direction?
He swallows hard and changes direction.
Too late for baseball, I watched him move back into writing. I watched his values change. How odd, I thought, to see how much his external actions changed from just an internal value shift. As his entire world turned upside down, I watched others shocked by his changes, confused because they couldn't see the internal compass he was now navigating by.
I watched his doubts, I watched his fears and darn if he didn't have a success or two that matched his new definition. His definition. As his confidence grew, I watched him slowly begin to show others how they too, could follow their dreams. So finally, I had to ask him.
What is the one piece of advice you'd offer others?
I didn't hesitate in my answer at all. I would listen to that 10 year old, I said. I would listen to that 10 year old.
Mike Johnson is an energetic writer & entrepreneur. Learn more about Mike's offerings at www.MikeJohnson.biz