Follow your dream?

Should you?

I had a conversation with someone who has been quite successful as a serial entrepreneur. Since I have a lot of spare time, I wanted to pick his brain and get some pointers what I could follow his footsteps. His brief answer was that he just had been lucky, right place at the right time. He also said there are some people who are cut out to be a leader, founder, and entrepreneur. And, most people are not. He said God (whichever god depends on your religion) has set out a path for everyone. People have different strengths, and he doesn’t believe in working on improving weaknesses, but reinforcing strengths.

One of the books I like is Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. One principle in the book says that the state head must know how to utilize his generals’ strengths best. If a general is good at offense, he should be deployed in offensive position. And if a general is good at defense, then in defensive position. You can’t blame a general for not doing his job if he was assigned with a job he cannot possibly do well. It makes total sense……

So, what if your dream is not in line with your strengths? Or what if your strengths are not enough to reach your dream? Books and TVs are full of stories about people following their dreams, persevere, and actually achieving them. How about others who have followed them but never made them? There are many athletes, both professional and Olympic, who in spite of their best effort do not make it at the top. What about those countless artists and musicians? When do you realize that perhaps your strengths are not in line with your dream or just not enough? What do you do? Then, is it about different levels or definitions of success? Should an athlete be satisfied with making it to the Olympic teams?

It’s especially meaningful to me since I have two kids of my own. As a parent, I would tell them that they could be anything they want to be. Would I be setting them up for big disappointments? Shall I just tell them that there are different levels of successes, and they should set low goals? Jack Welch is famous for setting “stretch goals”, which may not be applicable for kids, but I really ponder over the whole thing.

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