Author's Note: I wrote this for a prompt in one of my classes. I thought I'd share it with you. The prompt was: Describe a dream that you or someone you know had that did not take flight. What kept it from soaring? How can you use this information to help your ability as a leader?
In my psychology book, there is a quote:
"I am, somehow, less interested in the weight and convolutions of Einstein's brain than in the near certainty that people of equal talent have lived and died in cotton fields and sweatshops."
Steven Jay Gould, The Panda's Thumb, 1980
I have not known many people to fail from their dreams, but my late uncle was one of them. He wanted to be a major-league baseball pitcher. In the minor league, he blew out his elbow. He went on to have a good life, got married to my aunt, owned horses, moved down to Florida into a beachfront condo, and owned a pizza restaurant. He I assume, was not who this assignment was about.
My father wanted to go into wildlife management when he was in his first year of collage. He decided that being in wildlife management didn't pay really well and went into construction. After being in construction for 25 years, working at different companies, and owning his own construction business, he shut down the construction business. He is now working with my mom to open a major-league fast pitch softball team. He is not who this assignment was about.
Instead, let us address why people fail, and look into how people thrive.
Imagine a cliff. This cliff is one of those cliffs that you only see in cartoons, a strait drop to the ground below. The cliff goes down about a quarter of a mile from where you're standing. Look strait ahead of you now. In front of you, is a chasm. Across from this chasm is another plateau. The chasm is just wide enough that some ware in the back of your mind, you know you can't jump it. It's just impossible. You want to get to the other side. You want to jump. You don't want to die. There is nothing around you that will get you from where you are to where you want to be. You edge your toe cautiously forward. The cliff that you're standing on widens to stop your toe from going off the edge. The opposite cliff inches that much farther back. The chasm is still the same. Cautiously, you take a step forward. The ground expands to meet your foot, and the other cliff continues to inch away. You jump. The ground from your cliff reaches out and catches you.
This is where one of two things happen, they might have happened already.
Angrily, you sprint towards the other cliff, paying the chasm no heed. You want to get there. You need to get there. You keep running and running, sprinting and sprinting.
Or you stop. You see that there is no way that you will ever get to the other side. You sit down. You go home. You give up. You might have already turned back when you saw that you couldn't jump the cliff, you may turn back now, or whenever.
You're still sprinting though, you haven't seen any reason to give up yet, or you see many reasons and ignore them all. You stop sprinting too. A thought has come to you. You look around, and the landscape is different. You pull out your GPS and look at your coordinates. Despite never getting off your cliff, you are where the other cliff was. What Could Be has turned into What Is. You can sit back and enjoy your view, or you could sprint after the new What Could Be.
These two people had two very different ways of handling the situation of the never-ending cliff. One person became frightened from the size of the cliff or the drop, or they became frustrated by the sheer impossibility of the task. The other person didn't get frightened by the cliff, or give up because of the task. They didn't view the task as "impossible" to achieve, they viewed it as "a bit unlikely", so despite the cliff or gap, they were able to get to their destination.
Many storybook heroes have persistence as one of their traits.
I was reading "Summer Knight", a book from "The Dresden Files" by Jim Butcher. In this book, Harry Dresden is faced agents impossible odds and the possibility, no, near-certainty that there will be either another ice-age or heavy global-warming if he doesn't complete his neigh-impossible mission. He has enemies to his left, right, and climbing out of the sewers, and doesn't know who to trust. Many other people would go home, put a bag over their heads, and wait for the apocalypse to come. Harry fights through friends and enemies alike, and with tooth and nail to complete his mission and save the world. Harry doesn't know the meaning of Stop, and has to help everyone that asks.
Another example is the consulting detective Sherlock Holmes. He just doesn't stop. Not for food, not for sleep, not even to give his friend Watson a break, when he is on a case. He sees the case to the very end, sometimes breaking the law to find the solution (The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton). Not many people though, know that he has an older brother, Mycroft. Mycroft is smarter than he is and is better at deduction, Sherlock says that he could be the finest criminal mind in Britten, yet he isn't. Even though his talents proceed Sherlock's own, he calls on his little brother to help him. This is because Mycroft has no drive. He wouldn't even lift a finger to see if his own theories are right. This shows the main difference between the Holmes brothers. Sherlock works to be the best.
There are other heroes that have this trait, the Doctor (Doctor Who), Samuel Vimes (Discworld), and Batman. All of them don't stop, even though they are up agents impossible odds.
Leaders help others to ignore the gap between What Is and What Could Be. They tell others to keep looking up, to keep focusing on the cliff that will never be there, but convincing people around them that they could get there.
The Doctor is a leader. He helps others see What Could Be, and show them that they could make it to What Could Be, despite the gap. A good leader, like the Doctor, will help people see What Could Be, and help them over the gap.