Reach for the stars

I encourage my kids to dream big.  I encourage my clients to dream big.  I dream big.  I love the story of the underdog who conquers, and genuinely believe for every Goliath there is a David.  

Telling our kids to reach for the stars is something we need to encourage as parents, but you can’t encourage this action without explaining the rest of the equation.  Because for every measure of inspiration, there must surely be an equal dose motivation, a generous serving of strategy, with a side of good timing.  

Anyone can come up with an idea, but not everyone can make that idea into a business, and not every business will become a success. In fact, according to Bloomberg, 80% of entrepreneurs who start businesses fail within the first 18 months. I would wager that these entrepreneurs dreamed big and were motivated, some may even have had the right strategy, but something went wrong somewhere.  For some it may have been that their timing that was off or they ran out of money and resources.    

For many start up business, the finances, or lack of funding is their main constraint.  Helping your child understand their constraints is not bad parenting, but showing them how to overcome or work around these handicaps, will always be more powerful.  This is the start of teaching a strategy.  A good strategy identifies where the opportunities lie certainly, but more importantly it identifies where the challenges are, and when you will need to think creatively.  

David, although the accepted metaphor of improbable victory, didn’t pretend Goliath didn’t exist.  He could see him and he approached him with a strategy that he could execute.  He was too small for armour and was unskilled with a sword.  He knew he wasn’t as big or as strong as Goliath.  David could see Goliath for what he was and what he wasn’t.  He worked with what he had to work win, and still won the fight.  5 stones and a slingshot.  That is creative thinking at its best.  

I don’t think it is necessarily the job of the dreaming child, or their parent to come up with the strategy, but usually someone needs to.   Lofty goals are a dime a dozen.  A strategy to achieve the goal is less common; and a well-executed plan is surprisingly rare.  As parents, we need to be brainstorming with our kids “how” they reach for the stars, not just whether they can see a star.


Photo Diego Hernandez