Dream chasing is as American as apple pie (which actually isn’t that American, nor is dream chasing), after all, we learn from a very young age to admire those in our culture who had a dream and followed it; Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jordan, Michelle and Barack Obama, the list goes on.
So why do I feel so conflicted by a young man I know who has chosen to drop out of college to pursue his dream of music? We hear musician success stories on MTV, VH1, and other interview shows ALL OF THE TIME. I’ve told countless young people to find your passion and follow your dreams. Am I a hypocrite?
I’m not sure! It isn’t unreasonable to think that most people could benefit from a college or university education, and a career as a musician is a long shot. A college education provides a solid foundation for a future career. For some, college is the predictable path, often taken for granted. For others, it is a part of the dream. Either way, it is a highly valued qualification and experience to have in the “real world”! You know where people have jobs, salaries, health insurance (at least in the US, employment is essential to having medical insurance), retirement, and security. A college degree represents an individual’s ability to achieve a goal, follow directions, meet deadlines, work under pressure, be self-directed and motivated, employ common sense, problem solve, and follow through.
But clearly, a college education doesn’t a guarantee success and security, nor is it the only way to achieve your dreams. Choosing to pursue your dreams without a college education definitely isn’t the easy way out, it is most assuredly the road less traveled. It definitely takes many, if not more, of the competencies required to complete a college degree. So what does it take? This is what I’ve learned from my own experience and that of others, following your dream requires:
- Hard work
- And a plan!
Richard St. John also points out what he thinks it takes to be successful in this great TedTalk.
From St. John’s list, “push” is a critical element, which means surrounding yourself with people who are going to challenge and encourage you. They provide opportunity for growth and creativity. If you’ve only surrounded yourself with people who are stroking your ego, you have to wonder what’s in it for them. It’s the people who love and trust you who will question you, and ask you to ask more of yourself.
If you think you have what it takes (as listed above) or are at least willing to work 24/7/365 to develop the skills and attitudes you’re going to need, then you should be successfully on your way to fulfilling your dream whichever road you choose. Right?