The myth of pur­su­ing your dreams

Sun.Star Pampanga - - FRONT PAGE -

WHEN I was still in­volved in Mul­tiLevel Mar­ket­ing, one of the strate­gies we used to con­vince peo­ple to join was to show them the key to get­ting their dream house or their dream car did not lie in their lit­tle jobs but in “do­ing their own busi­ness.”

It was of­ten nec­es­sary for us to de­mo­nize em­ploy­ment as a kind of mod­ern day slav­ery. There would be “bali­wan” meet­ings when those who were suc­cess­ful would en­cour­age prospects to re­sign and “fire your boss” be­cause they were not work­ing for their dreams but rather for the dreams of their em­ploy­ers.

This men­tal­ity still per­sists in one form or an­other and we have heard per­haps one too many “in­spi­ra­tional” speak­ers echo that sen­ti­ment. Just re­cently, I came across some­one who said: “If you will not pur­sue your dreams, other peo­ple will drag you to be­come their slave to ful­fill theirs. It’s called em­ploy­ment.”

This is a false di­chotomy. Be­ing em­ployed is not slav­ery, nor should it be seen as an op­po­si­tion to the pur­suit of your dreams. It is an agreed-upon ex­change of time and la­bor for wages -- you ap­plied for a job and your em­ployer agrees to give you one.

Not ev­ery­one is an en­tre­pre­neur, and that is as a good thing be­cause who would en­trepreneurs em­ploy if ev­ery­one wanted to be one? And why should pur­su­ing a dream be slanted to­wards be­ing an en­tre­pre­neur? Some peo­ple could very well dream to be a high-rank­ing of­fi­cer, but still an em­ployee, and there ought to be noth­ing wrong with that.

Why not in­stead see em­ploy­ment as a step­ping-stone or as a means to achieve your dreams? There is a lot that you can learn from be­ing em­ployed es­pe­cially if you get a good boss. But even if you get a bad boss, there are also many things to learn, es­pe­cially on things you should not do when you de­cide to start your own busi­ness.

There are never-end­ing lessons you can glean by just be­ing ob­ser­vant. Why is it that a highly paid co-worker is mired in debt while a rel­a­tively lower paid one man­ages just fine? That’s a les­son in how to man­age cash­flow and ex­penses right there. Why is the seem­ingly in­tel­li­gent su­per­vi­sor be­ing ig­nored and dis­liked by many while the bois­ter­ous of­fice clerk gets a lot of af­fec­tion and sup­port? That’s a les­son in lead­er­ship and in­flu­ence.

Pur­su­ing your dreams doesn’t mean throw­ing cau­tion and plan­ning to the wind and shout­ing, “Just do it!” Very of­ten, you will end up fall­ing flat on your face as I have ex­pe­ri­enced time and again. Of course, you read of the suc­cess sto­ries of peo­ple like Steve Jobs, Jack Ma, J.K. Rowl­ing, and so on, but you have to un­der­stand that the rea­son you read or watch about them is pre­cisely be­cause they have made it. If you could read or watch the lives of the many peo­ple who worked just as hard as them but didn’t make it, for what­ever rea­son, you would re­al­ize that there are a whole lot more of these than the for­mer.

Statis­tics in the US show that half of busi­nesses do not sur­vive past five years, and only a third make it past 10 years.

When my wife and I were in New York, we signed up for a short tour of the Juil­liard School which is fa­mous for its pro­grams in dance, drama and mu­sic.

We were shown an im­pres­sive con­cert hall, an op­u­lent theater, hun­dreds of prac­tice rooms, a dance stu­dio over­look­ing the streets below and so on, and then we were also shown a rel­a­tively new of­fice that as­sists stu­dents in plan­ning out their ca­reer paths.

They had also re­al­ized that a lot of stu­dents en­roll to “pur­sue their dream” but have re­ally no idea on how to go about do­ing that in a very prac­ti­cal sense, or have no clue on what sac­ri­fices need to be made.

In­deed New York has a lot of artists sell­ing their art on the side­walk and street per­form­ers singing and danc­ing in the parks and sub­way sta­tions.

There is a point when dream meets re­al­ity and if your head is float­ing too much in the clouds, you will be in for a rude awak­en­ing when you come crash­ing down the pave­ment. Best fol­low the ad­vice of Theodore Roo­sevelt: “Keep your eyes on the stars, and your feet on the ground.”

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