This is the last part of the Mind of a Child series, which explores the need for big dreams and role models in becoming great men. Read the first and second part of this series to get the most out of this article.
The greatest men in the world have had enormous respect for children. From Jesus to Gandhi to Thoreau, the inherent wisdom of children has been cherished by truth seekers the world over. But what do we have to learn from children? And how can adopting the mind of a child make you a better man? Follow me for a series of articles and find out.
“I want to be an astronaut.” “I’m going to be the goddamn president of the United States.” “I’m going to climb Mount Everest.” “I’m going to be part of world peace.” “I’m going to start my own business and help feed the poor.”
This is just a smattering of the dreams that kids imagine, and it’s really a poor representation compared to the amazing stuff they come up with. Kids dream big by default, and the only thing that separates them from living big is adult beliefs like: “I can’t do that. I’m not good enough for that, and I’ll never be good enough. Let the rich kids pursue that, I’ll just be this. Poor little me.” Unfortunately, these are the thoughts that characterize adulthood today.
There are no dreams that can exist simultaneously with reality when limited “adult” thinking is present. Two-hundred years ago people would have thought you were crazy if you said you were going to power the Northeast by harnessing Niagara Falls. But fortunately for the world, one man had a dream that he didn’t give up on. Kids don’t know they aren’t capable of accomplishing something until older people tell them that they can’t. And the more they hear “Nope, not realistic. Can’t do that,” the more they believe it, and the smaller they live. Kids exercise the distinctly human trait of hope until they allow their hope to be dismantled by “realism.” Lucky it is for our race that this unfortunate event hasn’t happened to every great innovator or achiever. Without hope, we would have nothing.
Revive your dreams
What are some dreams that you had as a kid that have since died? What are some passions of yours that have gone unexplored because people said you couldn’t? Resurrect the dreams of your childhood and combine them with the responsibility, persistence, and goal setting of your adult self. Dreams and long-term goals are the things that motivate men to become better each day; without them, you have nothing to strive for and to grow into.
If you’ve forgotten about your dreams or don’t even know where to begin, the journey to your greatest self will start with a single question. If you ask what you love, what you are here for, what you can do for others, and how you can make this world a better place, you will find your dreams. If you devote yourself to your dreams and if you persevere in reaching one step closer to them each day, your dreams will be a reality. Need some inspiration? Just spend a day with an awesome kid who has yet to be beaten into conformity, and learn.
Have a hero
The minds of children are constantly looking for great examples to emulate; they do this to grow and to try difficult things vicariously through people who have already achieved success. Having role models and heroes is pure genius, and you couldn’t invent a better way to improve yourself, but kids do it naturally. They experience the success and failures of another person, and in doing so, they learn. The more role models a kid has, the more their imaginations spin, and the greater their desire is to achieve in the real world. The same applies for grown men.
Role models and heroes are incredible for the development of character. At some point, we all learn that our heroes are human and completely fallible. Moreover, we learn that heroes are the types who have failed more than any other person would dream of because they wanted to achieve something so badly — because they had faith in themselves. If you don’t have strong role models that exemplify humility, integrity, perseverance, courage, and character, you won’t learn that failure is an unavoidable fact of life. When people grow up without role models and heroes, or when they lose them, failure becomes a dreaded horror instead of a badge of honor for daring to achieve.
Having role models and learning about their experiences will enable you to dream bigger, fail more, and thoroughly enjoy the process of becoming your best self. The impossible is achieved every single day, from the single mother with two day-jobs, to the young man who discovers responsibility and purpose amidst squalor, and to the amazing feats of Alex Honnold. The more you steep yourself in the minds of your heroes, the more familiar you will become with achieving the impossible. Click this link for some amazing role models who can inspire the best man in you.
You don’t have to devote a shrine to role models like children do, nor must you shriek and faint when they pass before you. But if you want to be the best man you can be, try exploring new role models and learning all that you can about them to gain valuable knowledge for your journey. Though you won’t have an exact role model for your unique path, you can take all the experiences from those you admire to prepare yourself for unknowable successes.