Don Miller, youthful dreams and astronauts

Mikey linked to this post by Don Miller. It annoys be a little bit. Not because I don’t think it’s true. My generation (ok, I’m turning 30 in less than a month, but I still get to be a Gen Y. Just. Because I know what “devo” means. And I may have used it once or twice before. And I write in this annoying conversational style. See?) is probably all those adjectives he says we are.

But so what if we think we can be millionaires? It’s not the responsibility of the older generations to disabuse younger folks of their dreams. If some 20-year-old is crying because he thought he could be a world class videographer by now, no one is going to hold you responsible for his disappointment. You don’t have to go around treading on teenagers’ dreams to insure yourself against future accusations of holding out false hopes.

It all sounds very cliched, but when you think about it, it’s true. If you tell someone they can’t do something, or that it will be very hard (and the subtext for “X is very hard” is “X is very hard and I don’t think you’re up to the task, that is why I am telling you”), then they won’t work hard to try to do it. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Supposing you said to a 15-year-old, “You want to be an astronaut? Great. Pursue your dreams. Here are the steps you should take to reach your goals. Join the military, take these subjects at school, etc…” And they listened, and took the steps to pursue their dreams. Suppose at some point they failed some exam, or some event beyond their control transpired so that they didn’t make it into the right program or whatever (I’m sure it’s very hard to become an astronaut!). This is actually a good result for them. They worked hard, they would have become more disciplined, they would have learnt much in the whole process. In fact, the most valuable lesson was in their “failure”. Again, sounds like a cliche, but it’s true when you think about it.

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2 comments

  1. All good points.

    I depends what tone of voice you imagine Don Miller’s thing being said in… and who you imagine reading it and agreeing with it!

    Because the youthful idealism and naivety that diddles with things that go nowhere IS a problem that young people SHOULD be disabused from.

    But it takes discernment to separate that kind of narcissistic idealism from genuine youthful optimism: they may LOOK the same on the surface, and talk the same language. But the good kind needs to be supported, not smothered.

  2. Don is right, but as you point out, rather unhelpful.

    I agree with you 100% on astronauts.

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