This week I covered a talk given by an Olympian gold medal winner, Bruny Surin, hosted by Rio Tinto’s Health & Wellbeing Committee. Amongst the many positive takeaways from the session (which ended with a pounding dance beat and a push up contest), what he had to say about achieving your life’s goals was something that really caught my attention.
Bruny shared his observations that being able to say your dream out loud, and actually believing you will achieve it, is something that gets harder and harder to do over time – but matters more and more as you get older.
Speaking to elementary school children, when he asks what their dreams are, they all raise their hands and are eager to say what they want to be and do with their lives. In high school, the teens are a little more reticent and there are fewer who are willing to risk exposure by saying anything, but there are still several who have passions they are unafraid to declare and who express what their goals are. But when it comes to adults – everyday people working their jobs taking in a lunchtime seminar like this one at the office – he’s happy if one person dares raise their hand and tell the group what their dream is in life.
Is it just a normal part of getting older that we allow our more reasonable selves to override what may be the wild and crazy dreams of our youth, or is it just that life weighs us down and we lose sight of who we really want to be and what we really wanted to achieve with our lives as we slog through our jobs? It seems we get better at getting things done, but worse at getting done what really means something to ourselves.
That just feels wrong. Why is it that as children we can imagine ourselves becoming who we want to become, but as adults (when we presumably have benefitted from education, life experience, skills training and exposure to new ideas and tools we can access) do we feel less empowered, less able, less confident, so much so that we’re even afraid to speak our dreams out loud?
Bruny offered his gold baton to the first person who was willing to share their dream. It took a while, but finally one person, then another rose to the occasion and accepted the challenge. Certainly there were others in the room with dreams of their own they were too intimidated to share. That doesn’t mean they’ll never get there, but taking that first step and actually saying out loud to yourself and others what you want to achieve will surely help you get there sooner.
What are you waiting for?