About a month ago, while having dinner with a family in Mexico, their little seven year old son was explaining Jiu-Jitsu to me. He vividly described a special move in while taking huge bites into his cheeseburger. My seven year old friend was extremely excited and imaginative about martial arts, which he barely actually knew anything about.
Even though my little friend had no experience with martial arts, he had a passion to learn about it. He would make remarks that would make people laugh, because he was sharing the picture of martial arts that he created in his imagination. It seems that almost every child is born with this kind of imagination, and it isn’t until adults tell them to be more realistic do some children lose their ability to imagine.
Like kids, everyone has ideas. Although they may not be as outrageous as the ones that your kids come up with, most of them are ideas that have not been manifested into reality yet. In fact, most of our communication on a regular basis consists of sharing ideas.
Anything that has been built, compiled, or written started as an idea somewhere in someones head. And the things that have brought the most change to the world we live in often started as impossibly ambitious ideas in the heads of people who dared to dream. Many of these things started as ideas or people that were looked down upon, deemed impossible, or outright shunned at first.
These people were the ones who were extreme optimists; people who saw the world for what it could be instead of what it was. These people shared their picture of the world that they created in their imagination, in a similar way that my little friend talked about martial arts.
A couple weeks ago, in an interaction on Twitter, I shared an idea that I had about the education system and how it could be improved. Immediately, I was met with opposition from people who claimed to be experts, calling my ideas “a sweet sentiment” and starting their responses with “meanwhile, back in reality…”
“I’m not out of my mind but I might be out of yours.” – Jason Westerfield
The remarks on Twitter didn’t offend me. They simply made me realize that not everyone has the radical optimistic idealism like people similar to I do. Most of the time, it’s easier to be the one who says it can’t happen than it is to be the one to take risks based on outrageous ideas, but being the optimist is definitely more exciting and fulfilling than being the realist.
Elon Musk is one of my favorite entrepreneurs because of his knack to endlessly take risks on his outrageous dreams. After successfully starting and growing a service named Paypal that everyone said was doomed to fail because no one would use it, he took a loan to pay for rent because he had invested all of his money into a private space company and an electric car company. Elon Musk is a man who dreams outrageous dreams and risks everything and changes the world.
What my little seven year old friend and Elon Musk have in common is the overwhelming place of optimism that they operate out of. Bluntly disregarding the opinions of naysayers, the only way to see change in the world around you is to be willing to take steps toward your dreams.
The cup is half full, but I’m going to fill it all the way up.