When we moved into our current property it came complete with a basketball hoop mounted to a water tank. The hoop had been raised to a height that would probably challenge most NBA players, never mind us mere mortals. Well maybe just short NBA players. Probably not Steph Curry though… That guy has game. Anyways, I digress…
The improbable height of this hoop didn’t put off a then 2-year-old Jono, who made a bee-line to it with his trusty Lightning McQueen ball in hand.
He spent the next 15 minutes, what must have felt like weeks in his 2-year-old mind, trying to score. In reality he couldn’t even throw the ball a quarter of the way up, which prompted me to tell him:
“You are dreaming my man!“
He didn’t care. He just kept eyeing up that hoop and firing away. It was cute and inspiring at the same time.
Fast-forward to today and this same trait remains strong in Jono. He has the capacity to dream big. To dream well beyond his capabilities. If you’ve read my blog before you’d know that I coached his Rugby team this year. Leading up to every game day Jono is practically bubbling over with excitement.
“I’m going to score 100 tries! I’m going to get all of the rips! I’m going to win the trophy!” –Jono on the way to every game
The inconvenient truth is that in the 12 games we’ve played so far this season he hasn’t scored a try or gotten a rip yet (he’s getting closer though!). We have 4 games left, my fingers are firmly crossed.
He doesn’t let these boring facts get in the way of his dreams though and every week he builds himself back up again.
Sometimes he goes overboard and psychs himself out a little. Or a lot. That’s ok. Living up to our own expectations isn’t always an easy thing, if we set them high enough!
What always amazes me is that, given the right environment, these setbacks are so temporary it’s not funny. Children have a inherent resilience that we easily forget as we get older.
As parents we are the biggest risk to our children’s natural desire to dream. To dream really big. To chase those dreams and to keep picking themselves up when they come up short. It’s up to us to cultivate the dreamer, to support the attempt and be there to help them pick up the pieces if (more likely when) it all goes horribly wrong.
Dreaming big, like way beyond our capacity to achieve, isn’t a bad thing. It drives us to be better than we are today. Dreams, big or small, are the stuff of achievement. They are the fuel that run the machine, and the reason we get out of the bed in the morning. They can be more infectious than the most lethal virus.
The problem is that few of us retain the ability to dream big as we age. We shelve dreams in favour of simpler more attainable goals. Things like “I’d love a sleep-in this weekend.” or (while looking at your stirring baby, as I am right now…) “Please, please, please don’t wake up for another 5 minutes“. Little things seem a whole lot more important as the crushing reality of commitments, responsibility and “being a grown-up” take their toll.
It’s not that we can’t dream big anymore, it’s that we’ve forgotten how.
The sad truth is that we don’t even realise that it’s happened!
This was rammed home to me this week when Jono brought me a list of things he wanted to be when he grew up. I’m not going to spoil the surprise in this post because it ties in nicely with my next one (“The Imagination Station” – watch this space). Lets just say that it had a job listed for every day of the week. Not one of them is going to be an easy task, never mind seven careers at once.
My initial thoughts were cynical, “yeah right…” But then I reminded myself hey, Dream Big!
So what am I trying to say with all of this ramble?
Take a moment out from your hectic day. Try to remember what it was like to dream big, without the constraints of reality. Give it another go. Find a dream to chase.
And if you’re struggling to find one of your own, borrow one from a child and try it on for size… See if it prompts some subconscious muscle-memory back into life.
And don’t worry about stealing one – children have enough to go around!
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