Thursday, March 17, 2011

Great Expectations

When I was about ten years old I met Charles Dickens. He came to me in the form of a book I found piled among other books in my Nanny's room. The title caught my eye and captured my imagination, Great Expectations, how grandiose and thrilling! I immediately plucked the book from the pile, climbed over her rocking chair and snuggled into the corner beside the dormer window between the three foot high stuffed Sylvester the Cat and a pile of handmade afghans.

I sat there for hours and read about how the fate of one poor boy was changed by either a crazy rich lady or an ex-con on the run. I loved the twists and turns Pip's life took and how one situation threaded into the next, it was the first book that I ever read that 'stuck with me' for years. I remember how I felt reading that story the first time because its the same way I feel each time I read it still. I am full of wonder and hope and questions about the future and how much we control our own destiny.

As I child, I thought that everything was left up to chance but as an adult I clearly see how our decisions, attitudes and friendships impact our future. How the truths we know about ourselves, the limitations we either cling to or release, steer us toward success or mediocrity. It is the people we align ourselves with who either push us into greatness or hold us is complacency. No one dreams of being mediocre when they are a child but yet somehow, so many people settle for the mundane, they become okay with being okay because becoming anything more is just too much work.

I constantly tell my kids that they have gifts, talents and abilities that can make them world changers. I encourage them to dream, to imagine all of the possibilities that their life could hold, but I also tell them that every dream worth achieving takes hard work. We talk all the time about how many tries it took great scientists, artists, inventors, philanthropists to find success and how hard they have to work to keep achieving the next great thing they are capable of. My kids need to understand that greatness isn't some kind of magical force that comes upon a chosen few, it is a hard won platform on which you stand to reach the next hard won platform. I need them to understand that being extraordinary takes work.

I see a lot of young adults floundering once they graduate from high school and university. They don't seem to be able to settle into jobs and adult life. They want more, think they deserve more but instead of chasing down their more and working for it they are waiting for it to come to them. It like they've stalled and are irritated that the world isn't handing them the good life on a silver platter as a jump start. Mark Twain said, "The world doesn't owe you anything, it was here first." harsh but true.

I don't want my kids to grow up waiting for good things to happen to them, I want them to chase after the dreams they have. I want them to tackle life and show it whose boss! I want them to thrive and find happiness. And most of all I want them to appreciate all the good things in their lives because they have earned them because I believe what you earn you respect and value for more than what you are given.

I found this video that is kind of funny but got me thinking about all of this in the first place, maybe it will get your wheels turning, too.

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