Dream big. Do it. It's worth it. Don't let anyone smash your dreams.
I've had enough dream killers in my life, so I am consciously making an effort not to be that person to my kids. They want to aim for the stars, I'm shopping for rocket fuel.
But it's not easy. In fact, it's not my natural disposition. My inner me wants to be a critic. To play devil's advocate. To say, 'that's silly.' To dismiss. Being the encourager of dreams means that I'm going against my inclinations. It means I'm having to change some habits.
My oldest son once told me that he wanted to be a pastor, an artist, and the president. He put the emphasis on the word 'and.' As in, if he couldn't be a pastor or an artist, then the option for being president was eliminated. Honestly, if anyone could do all three of those at the same time, it would be my kid.
Ask Zu what she wants to be when she grows up, she'll tell you she wants to be a horseback rider. Great - that is a fantastic dream that I can get behind. I'll cheer her on endlessly to achieve that dream.
So far, that's easy. When your kids have plausible dreams - even ones that border on audacious, supporting those dreams is basic. Minimal effort required.
JJ, on the other hand, not so easy.
There comes a point when every rational thought in my being wants to tell people that there should be a point when you must stop dreaming. You want to be an astronaut? Well, they shut down NASA but that's a worthy dream. You want to ride a surfboard around the rings of Saturn? Whoa there toughie... you and I need to have a talk about making your dreams a little more realistic.
And that's where JJ is redefining what I consider to be a realistic dream. It's not easy, but it's worth it.
A while back, JJ told me, "I want to be Iron Man when I grow up." I've shared this story before, but his reply to me is essential to the spirit of anyone who considers themselves a dreamer.
JJ said, "I want to be Iron Man when I grow up."
"Well, the first thing you'll need to do is get very very rich." I replied.
Without any thought to the challenges in my instruction, he simply answered, "OK."
As if becoming very very rich was something that is commonplace. So easy a caveman could do it. If you want to be Iron Man, first get filthy stinking rich. And he shrugged it off. Sure, no problem. I'll get started now. He won me over. I'll be front and center at his press conference when he tells the world, "I am Iron Man."
So dream. Even if it is ridiculous or impossible. Do it anyways. It's worth it.