Last week I went to a business-networking event to listen to a successful businessperson share her success story. I won’t name who it was, but she certainly enjoys a remarkable career as a self-made entrepreneur.
She was a great presenter and very likeable. I guess you would describe her as your quintessential motivational speaker echoing messages around the conference room like:
“You just have to love what you do!”
“All it takes is self belief – confidence is everything!”
“If I can do it, you can do it!”
Her audience was captivated. As I looked around the room people sat on the edge of their seats, soaking in her words, in hope they too would follow her down the path to overnight success.
“All my dreams can come true if only I have the courage to pursue them…”
How many times have you walked out of a session like that pumping your fist in the air singing “I am the greatest” like Mohammed Ali, before logging onto Facebook and sharing your favourite ‘follow your dreams’ meme?
But then a few months later you look up from your day-job desk, rub your sore neck and realize not much has changed in your life. That’s because when it comes to the inspiration success stories, not everyone is giving you the full picture.
You’re not always told about the fortunate connections – people in the know, or people who can introduce you to the people in the know.
You’re not always told about the security of a high-salary earning partner that can keep a family’s financial wheels in motion.
You’re not always told about the support of family living close by that can pitch in and help with the kids, the house…whatever it takes to keep your head above water while you chase the seemingly impossible.
All items of pure circumstance.
But things that enable some of us to take bigger, bolder steps towards our dreams than others.
At the same time you’re not always told about the sacrifices – the sleep deprivation, the time away from the family, the marriage breakups.
A friend of mine is a journalist. While she’s happy being a journalist, her passion is creative writing – all she wants to do is give her day job and write books. And I know she’d be good. She’d be amazing, in fact.
But she can’t. She can’t just give up her day job because she has a mortgage to pay, a child to feed and groceries to pay.
“Look, I could give up the day job and eat baked beans for my art, but that wouldn’t be fair on my son and my husband. I’m tired of people telling me to just follow my dreams. If only it was that easy!” she said to me.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying that those in fortunate circumstances have it easy and don’t deserve their success. Regardless of their circumstance, I have no doubt they have worked tirelessly to turn their dreams into reality.
I just wish that when they spruik their stories to us – enticing us to believe ‘it could be you too’ – they were a little more honest.
That way the rest of us can stop questioning our own talents and beating ourselves up when we find ourselves returning to our ‘day-job’ desk yet again to meet the demands of day-to-day life.
And I’m definitely not chopping down tall poppies here. I have no doubt there are people who have worked tirelessly and taken massive risks to follow their dreams without any backup and in difficult circumstances.
In fact I LOVE hearing those stories. They’re the stories I WANT to hear. They are people I can learn from and be inspired by.
Like Alexandra Cain said in this article, I want to hear the real stories about those dreams that do come true.