Stop pursuing your dream with reckless abandon!
I love listening to motivational speakers because, most often, it's like listening to stand-up comedy.
"Do you have a dream, ma'am? Yes ma'am, you in the front row, red sweater. Do you have a dream? May I ask what it is?"
"Um... okay... to... to have my own cooking show."
"And what an incredible dream that is! Give her a round of applause for her courage folks."
"Ma'am... you've just admitted to us what your dream is... that took courage. Now the biggest step is over with. We're all going to be here to support you along your journey as you pursue your dream. Pursue it with gusto! Pursue it with vigor! Pursue it with a reckless abandon!"
Oh my gosh, shut up and sit down. Everyone but you knows the lady probably has $15,000+ in credit card debt, a mortgage, three kids, a decent job that took her years to get to and no connection to Martha Stewart whatsoever.
These guys make money off of your willingness - no, your eagerness - to buy into this idea that you can just up and go and "pursue your dream with reckless abandon." Their books top bestseller lists, they're booked to speak across the country and the only thing they're selling is empty hope. Before this gets too down and out, there is hope! They just don't preach it.
The problem lies in their own philosophy of how to pursue your dream. Reckless abandon.
reck·less (ˈrekləs/) adjective: reckles - (of a person or their actions) without thinking or caring about the consequences of an action.
Reckless abandon is a phrase tossed around by people who mean well, I'm sure. It means to go all out, to leave nothing behind, to give it all you got no matter the consequences. At first glance, it seems like an energetic sort of mantra! But take a second glance and it'll dawn on you that rarely, if ever, are we benefited by pursuing something recklessly. Recklessness has a track record of getting people into trouble.
When you face all odds and ignore that very fact, rushing into the fray without a plan of attack or at least a plan of defense, your butt gets whooped.
Mindfulness, mobility and a deliberate plan of action will - 99 times out of 100 - get you further toward your dream. Rather than pursuing dreams with reckless abandon, pursue them with calculated strategy (it's easier than it sounds). Here are the three steps to get you on solid footing before you act.
1. Be aware of the brutal facts
During the Second World War, the Prime Minister of Great Britain, Winston Churchill, created a department outside of the traditional command structure that reported directly to him. This office was called the Statistical Office (now called the Central Statistical Office or CSO) and its sole purpose was to report the cold, unaltered, unfiltered facts to Churchill on the war efforts. His strength, he knew, was also his weakness. As a charismatic and bold leader, his tendency was to make charismatic and bold moves. As you might guess, these moves would be risky at the expense of thousands of his troops. To combat this risk, he formed this small task force that provided the appropriate checks and balances to his charisma by telling him, with no bias, the facts of the war. This allowed him to assess the situation and take action based on the truth, no matter how stark.
For us, this means we must have a no-nonsense approach to the reality of our situation. Are you pursuing a dream that will cost you $1,000,000? Don't be shy about it - embrace it. Are you pursuing a dream that means you may have to move to Brazil for a couple of years? Scary, yes, but the sooner you see it as a very real possibility, the sooner you can confront and plan for it.
Understanding the facts means you won't be caught off guard and you're prepared for the worst. The funny thing is that once you lay it all out on paper - ever bare fact - it's not as scary as it would be if it was a hazy possibility floating around in your head. More importantly, by getting it all out in the open you find that the worst case scenarios often aren't all that bad and sometimes even leave you with some cool stories to tell the grandkids.
2. Put yourself in a position to act
I admit, I have no expertise on the subject, but I love reading about Guerrilla Warfare. To me, it's incredibly intriguing because, counter to most ideas of warfare throughout history, the size of your army no longer holds as much weight. In fact, the size of your army may become your weakness by making you too cumbersome to move quickly.
Traditionally, we understand Guerrilla Warfare in the context of Vietnam during World War II. However, with minimal research you can find instances of similar tactics emerging in Spanish armies against Napolian during the Peninsular War, Chinese armies under Mao Zedong and others. Mao Zedong even wrote a work called "On Guerrilla Warfare" (an original title, to be sure) which influenced Vietnamese leader, Vo Nguyen Giap.
Guerrilla armies were broken into small units with the ability to act and move quickly. In this respect, we need to set ourselves up to act and move without burdensome logistics. For example, debt has an encumbering effect on our ability to financially act and move quickly. The money that we make, until our debt is paid off, isn't truly ours. Living and operating under this weight can be stifling both physically and creatively. Putting ourselves in a position to act and move with flexibility and minimal risk means ridding ourselves of these limiting factors. Making a $10,000 investment that has a risk factor of 50% is scary even when you're debt free. Add in $10,000 worth of debt and it's a near impossibility.
Practically, this means that your first couple of years of pursuing your dream with calculated strategy might look like paying off debt, downsizing the house, getting the kids off on their own, building up a small nest egg or a variety of other actions that put the decision making power back in your hands.
3. Create a plan
In the tale of the Trojan War, the Greeks had been fighting an uphill battle for ten years. Finally, understanding the odds were against them, they concocted a plan that involved building a giant wooden horse, hiding a small guerrilla army inside and pretending to sail away. The Trojans, seeing this wooden horse as a symbol of victory, pulled it into their city. The Greeks then sneaked out at night, taking the city by surprise.
I love that this story illustrates the need to have a plan but also reinforces the last point of small guerrilla task forces. The Greeks knew that fighting a losing battle meant more casualties, more years in the field and a slim hope for victory. Thinking outside the box - or inside the horse - they were able to achieve victory with even less force than they had been using previously.
Reckless abandon bought them ten years of fruitless war. Calculated strategy bought them victory in a night.
I hope that, while I push you to pursue what you love, I also equip you with the necessary tools, thought processes, battle-tested strategies and mindful matter to help you do so with great success. Got a topic you want me to cover? Shoot me a message! I want you guys to come out on the winning end.