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Creatively inspiring you to follow your dreams.
There’s been a lot of talk about Steve Jobs’s talk at Stanford’s Commencement Address in 2005. If you want to watch it yourself, go here. I personally found his speech on living your dreams inspiring. But of course I would right? I love inspirational things.
Then, I read this blog by Psychology Today called, “Should You Follow Your Bliss”? And I wasn’t so sure. Freelance writer Sarah Estes Graham shared my enthusiasm for Jobs’s speech, but with some reservations on how it could apply to all people, not just Steve Jobs. It watered down my passion just a bit.
I clicked on over to this article from Atlantic Monthly that she mentions called, “Follow Your Bliss-Sort Of.” I was even more distraught.
Journalist and senior editor Megan McArdle said:
“The problem is, the people who give these sorts of speeches are the outliers: the folks who have made a name for themselves in some very challenging, competitive, and high-status field. No one ever brings in the regional sales manager for a medical supplies firm to say, ‘Yeah, I didn’t get to be CEO. But I wake up happy most mornings, my kids are great, and my golf game gets better every year.'”
McArdle felt that Steve Jobs was talking about what he knew best and that was how to be Steve Jobs. But what does that mean for the rest of us?
She concluded her article with what she tells budding journalists:
“…there are a lot of people who want to be journalists, and a shrinking number of well-paid steady jobs. Usually, what I tell them next is that it’s not a tragedy if they don’t do what they thought they wanted to do at 22; that they have more time than they think to figure out ‘what they want to do with the rest of their lives’; and that the world outside of school and words is more interesting than they probably suspect. That they should be prepared to take the risks involved in pursuing this career, but also to cut their losses.”
I think it’s great advice, but here’s my 2 cents.
I think both McArdle and Graham have a point. There is a difference between reality and fantasy. And no one ever wants to encourage bright-eyed students to believe the impossible is possible right?
Hmmm…I’d beg to differ.
I agree that Steve Jobs was a rare visionary and that there will be less people like him and Oprah and the other guests who speak at schools like Stanford. Maybe we can’t all quit our day jobs and pursue our dreams. And yes the truth of the economy and the state of unemployment are less romantic than the ideal he speaks of. But what’s wrong with hearing his story, having hope that we can fulfill our dreams and allowing ourselves to be inspired by its possibility?
Watching Steve Jobs, I didn’t think he was giving us a how-to, but a what-if or a why no. On a day to day basis, with Debbie Downer news reminding us about how far we’re falling down the rabbit hole, why can’t we revel in the romanticism? If not, why even try? Taking away the hope that we’ll achieve something (maybe not Steve Jobs grand) important to us is not just depressing, but it’s inhuman. It’d be like telling your 6-year-old all the reasons why everything he ever wanted in life is not only impossible, but doesn’t exist.
I also understand that people who feel like their dreams are too out of reach or who don’t know what their dreams are can feel discouraged in the light of someone that successful. And I agree with what McArdle says to college students about being okay with not know what they want to do with their life. I truly believe that life is about growing and when we grow our dreams change. We’re not supposed to know what we want to do for the rest of our lives. We’re only to know what we want to do now.
In my opinion, Jobs and these two writers are talking about two separate things. Yes, we should be realistic about what we can or can’t do. We shouldn’t try to be a Steve Jobs or an Oprah Winfrey. We should be the best of ourselves. And that’s what I got from his speech. The hope, possibility and inspiration to pursue what’s right for us. Not to fight to be someone else. The former will help motivate us to keep persevering when our dreams feel to far away and the latter will mostly end in failure.
There are moments meant for celebrating. Getting my first online column for The Writer for example, made me feel like a champ. I felt the same way when I was asked by this lady to be interviewed on her radio talk show. And I was certainly excited when an Oprah show producer contacted me to be a possible guest on her OWN network show. But amongst every victory, every insanely wonderful treasure trove of opportunity lies the lull.
You may know it as the place where nothing happens.
It’s quiet here when everything whittles down. You can almost hear your heart beating through your chest. Part calm. Part terrifying. It’s the stillness that comes from a multitude of places.
1. You’re in-between places.
You might know you want to make that job to fulfilling your purpose, but you’re not ready. You’ve got one foot in the future and one on the past and you’re terrified to make the leap. Saddling two place is not a comfortable place to be. But when you’re not sure where to step next, the middle ground is where you must go. Be patient. Remove the obstacles like fear and lack of information by taking away judgment and being in the present moment. Sometimes we’re stuck because it’s not the right time to take the next step.
2. You’re burnt out.
Burn out is quite common especially for the type A perfectionists out there. But be glad for it. Because it is your signal to stop, drop and start relaxing. You might think that doing so is impossible. You have that deadline, the decision that still needs to be made, the kids that need your attention, that boss that’s demanding it. But it’s imperative that you make time for yourself. Trying to be creative when you’re spent is like grasping onto sand. Ideas and thoughts will quickly slip through your fingers.
Going through a break in your life doesn’t need to cause a breakdown. Although it’s scary when there is a pause in your otherwise hectic schedule, it’s a good sign. It means change is on your way.
My mom would always tell me to watch when the trees are still. “It’s the calm before the storm,” she would often say.
Storms sound scary don’t they. Even threatening. But they can also signal change and a clearing away. A new start. If we let the stillness be, we might eventually get there, learn why they came in the first place. It may even be the excuse we need to refresh our spirits, discover new ideas and open our eyes to wonder.
Think of the possibilities.