As men we have many pressures upon us to perform and attain a particular lifestyle before a certain age. High achievers are often communicated (consciously and subconsciously) to win at everything, go into this career, buy this car, make this amount of money, have children at this age, be like this person or be like that person. The list goes and on and on. Our culture, (intentionally and unintentionally) has a way of shaping who we become as men and that is not always a good thing, especially if we are taking cues from various forms of entertainment media like music, movies, news, commercials and social media. No doubt that these various forms of media have become the #1 influential source communicating to us how to be a man and what to pursue in life. I am also confident in making the assumption that most of us have been taught and influenced greatly by our parents, guardians, siblings, teachers and friends. I know I have.
As a boy, I was mostly influenced by my parents and teachers and what I watched on television.
I was a 70’s kid and I watched shows like Fred Flintstone, Tom and Jerry, Scooby Doo, Felix the Cat, Mighty Mouse, He-Man, Batman, Voltron, Transformers, The Jetsons, Fat Albert, The A-Team, The Brady Bunch, CHiPs, Different Strokes, Dukes of Hazzard, Facts of Life, The Jeffersons, The Cosby Show, Family Ties and Knight Rider just to name a few. I also grew up thinking that I would be a fireman, a policeman, a professional basketball player, an architect, a professional billiards player or a designer. What was modeled to me and what I was exposed to as a child shaped the belief in me that I wanted to be one of these things. And one of these things only. I was a little naive and premature in my thinking as most 4-8 years old boys would be, but I was also immature and didn’t know any better as I didn’t realize that there were thousands of career or business options available to me until I got much older. The challenge of picking and choosing a career path or running with a business idea can also be heavily influenced by what others think is best for us; including their intentions for us.
Many young and adult men, (including yourself) struggle coming to grips with your identity and not knowing who you are. You more than likely didn’t have a clear reference of where you wanted to go in life and you didn’t have a full scope of the gifts and talents you had within you. Defining your dream takes time and only time will tell who you will become and what you will do. How many of us pursued degrees or started businesses because someone told us to? How many us were told to pursue a “real job” instead of following our heart to become a movie producer, actor, audio engineer, car designer, space explorer, etc? How many of us settled for a mediocre life based on someone else’s opinions and perceptions of us?
In some cultures, it is extremely frowned upon to create your own career, vocation, business path and life path. There is a tremendous amount of pressure and expectation as a young man to enter into a specific type of career, and with it an understood expectation to pursue a particular school, make this amount of money, marry this type of woman, drive this type of car, purchase this type of house and live in this particular part of the city. Now, I’m not saying this is wrong as ethnic heritage and cultural expectations run deep, but in the sense of branding yourself, I believe it’s important that you carve out your own greatness and move in a direction that fits your personal desires, clearly showcases your expert gifts & talents and brings personal satisfaction and an income.
As men, we must come to the point in our life where we make a decision to pursue our ideas and dreams and not allow other external influencers to make decisions for us. An aspect of manhood is “manning up”, drawing a line in the sand and committing to the dreams and the pursuit of the dreams we have for ourselves. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that you hastily pursue and make irrational decisions and forgo your responsibilities for the sake of following your dream, but what I am saying is that you move towards your dreams with a strategy, a plan and a roadmap to help you accomplish your dreams. What I am saying is that you need to identify rather or not you are following your dreams or someone else’s.
I believe that you cannot achieve a dream well that you do not own. When you own the dream, you become attached to it. Your dream will never walk away from you, but you can walk away from your dream. Dreamwalking happens all the time with men like you and I. When you own your dream, you are willing to put the sweat equity to create and build your dream. When you own your dream and are willing to pursue it will all passion, you make the commitment to accomplish it no matter how much time or resources it takes to accomplish it. When you pursue your dream, you must become clear on who you are as a man and remove the thoughts and feelings of what others think about you and what their dreams are for you – including your parents and other loved ones.
So how do you know when you own your dream?
- You are constantly thinking and talking about it
- You are strategizing and putting the pieces together so you can accomplish it
- You test yourself to see if you have what it takes to do it
- You research it and look for mentors (this could be a person, a book, a website, etc.)
- It brings joy and satisfaction to you
- It keep you up at night
- You become focused and “in the zone”.
- You become stronger as you perform it
- You begin to think that you dream is related to your life purpose.
So how do you know when someone else owns your dream?
- You don’t want to spend time with the person telling you about their dreams for you
- You don’t talk about it
- It physically and emotionally drains you
- You see their dream for you as a chore rather than a privilege
- It won’t feel right. It feels like you’re going against the grain
- Your soul and heart will tell you
- You get bored
- You would rather be doing something else
- You look for another job or opportunity because it doesn’t “fit”.
It is the responsibility of every man to come to grips with the burning career and entrepreneurial desires within himself and come to terms with how God made you and how He shaped you. Your gifts, talents, intelligence, thinking style, learning style were given to you for a reason and I guarantee that you were created to be an original and not a copy. If you haven’t already began the process of pursuing your dream, I would encourage you to begin today. Look back at your life and recall your dreams. If those dreams are dead, that’s okay, maybe you have new dreams based upon the current season of your life. Please know that there is no deadline on dreaming and know deadline on making your dreams a reality. The only restrictions to your dreams are the restrictions you put on yourself.