There are many ways educators and parents alike can encourage youth’s boundless possibilities. There are typical ways and there are atypical ways. The purpose of this article, is to suggest one of those atypical approaches.
This atypical approach starts with an important truth I came across in the past decade, which is a belief that anything is possible, and that the future has had a tendency to be promising when I believed it would be. You may be asking yourself, “Why is this important?” It is important, because many students and youth are truly interested in having their lives get better, whether it be to get better grades, to someday go to college, or to one day be considered successful. Unfortunately, the majority of them think that having these things happen to them would certainly make their lives better; however, they don’t truly believe that any of it ever will. Too many of today’s youth believe that true success and achievement is something that exists, but remains elusive. Too many believe that success is something that will never really happen for them.
This is why my writing of this article is imperative. It is imperative, because in order for our youth to succeed tomorrow and in the future, they not only need to learn what it takes, but they also need to learn how to believe in tomorrow, today. Therefore, I wish to speak to you, the educator or parent, whose job it is to inspire tomorrow’s leaders. In order for our future leaders to believe and succeed, it is absolutely critical that you are a believer in the possibility of those dreams coming to pass first. The reason is, because a person who lacks belief, never develops it in another.
I’ve been fortunate to be optimistic for the majority of my life, so my past experience with believing the world to be cold, harsh, and limited has been minimal. However, there were a few periods in my life (in the early 2000’s) where I did live in a very limited and cynical way. As one might guess, those periods ended up becoming some of my life’s most miserable memories, but oddly my most defining. When I was adamant that the world was against me, when I believed that my future was bleak, and that my prospects for a better and brighter future were few and far between, life pretty much agreed with me, and let me tell you, it was not fun.
I remember myself in those times as being devoid of motivation, lacking an overall interest to be creative, and having absolutely no wish to think beyond tomorrow, because I somehow knew, (erroneously at that) what tomorrow held for me.
Fortunately, this unfavorable period of my life only lasted about three and a half years, although it seemed much longer. I came to a point one day where I felt like the best parts of my life were in the past. I hated the job I had, I despised my life at the time, and I felt like tomorrow wasn’t going to get any better. I remember thinking to myself, “what happened to my life?”. Some would say this sounds a lot like depression, and who knows, maybe I was slightly depressed, but I would venture to guess that this is a scenario that so many people experience day in and day out. I came to the realization that I was a member of the walking dead, and it took my stumbling upon the following quote by Henry David Thoreau to help me truly realize this.
As I was reading Thoreau’s book Walden one weekend, his quote “Most men lead lives in quiet desperation and go to the grave with their song still in them”, jumped out at me. It made me think about how right Thoreau was, how short life is, and about how so many people do appear to lead lives doing exactly what they don’t want to be doing. The quote resonated with me deeply as it helped me see that my life was the way it was because I had convinced myself that I was stuck, because I reasoned with myself that the probability of achieving what I really wanted was so small that I shouldn’t even try.
After being touched by this quote and epiphany, I made a decision to not be typecast as one of Thoreau’s men living life in quiet desperation. I decided to dream again, to believe in those dreams, and to be open to life’s possibilities instead of shut off to them. I re-opened my mind to learning again, devouring book after book on achievement, prosperity, finances, leadership, and entrepreneurship. As “luck” would have it, the days that followed my self-described awakening have shown some truly amazing improvements. Since then, I have been able to break out of my comfort zone, travel the world, run with the bulls, get engaged in Paris, earn a paid fellowship to a top tier University, earn my MBA from a private University, start a few businesses, purchase the house of my dreams in the neighborhood of my dreams, and have amazingly continued to live life in a remarkable way.
Again, I share this with you this because I want you to become a believer in life’s boundless possibilities. It is essential because our youth’s better future starts with your belief in it. I’ve seen too many adults as well as kids, cut themselves off from experiencing their dreams because of a lack of vision, and their belief in it. There is an ancient quote that states “without vision we perish”. In order for our youth to truly believe in themselves and in their better future, you’ve got to believe in it first. To activate others, we must first be activated. So here’s a call to action. Let’s start believing in boundless possibilities, because our collective future really does depend upon it.
As an educator or parent, what are some other ways you can think of to get our youth to believe in themselves and their future?
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