“Mr. Augie when I make it big it’ll be as a rapper.”
“I’m going to be a professional football player.”
These are just two of the many overly ambitious comments I have heard over the past 27 years. All of them have come from a courageous teen who had taken the step of trusting me with their dream. For this I am grateful. Along with being grateful, as a real friend, I often make a few suggestions and ask some questions. My approach towards all the young people I have worked with has always been to treat them as I treat my own children. What I have found has been anything but comforting.
If my children had made these comments I would have asked many questions to find out how much they knew about their chosen field. Also, as a means to give them advice, and perhaps most importantly, to find out how I can help them reach their goal; this is the true definition of support. To my surprise, other than what a TV shows presents or what a video game has portrayed or what their friends have said, most of my young teens know very little about their chosen career field. They imagine or assume many things which they deem to be factual without doing any research. Life has a way of making things sound easy.
Let’s take the music industry for example. How do you break into it? Well from the outside looking in, I would say that there is going be a lot of hard work involved. But work at what? This is the real question. I’m not in the music industry, but I know a dozen or so people who are and scores of others with who dream of doing so. Here are a few of the things they have taught me. You will need a social media presence across several platforms and you must aggressively publish on these same platforms. You will need to get noticed and have a special quality. This special quality must rise above everyone else’s. Or at the very least your quality must be appealing enough to get the attention of someone in the industry.
The effort required to become successful is not for cowards. It must be a consistent effort. You must consistently and continuously learn. You must be willing to go down this road alone. You must meet people, bear criticism, but above all you must believe in your dream more than anyone else.
Many of the young people I have worked with will never begin their journey because they never take a step towards it. One such young man came into my life about two years ago. He dreamed of being a rapper. He comes from a poverty stricken neighborhood and raised by a single, loving mom. During the course of our conversations he invited me to stop by his “studio” and listen to some of his music. A few days later I stopped by and listened to some of his music. The young man definitely had talent. He had a few songs, but not many. My advice to him was to establish a strong media presence and stay busy producing music. To date he has produced two or three videos and maybe an additional six songs. He spends his free time parting and hanging out with his friends. He still talks about making it big, but the idea of hard work and success is not taken seriously. However, he is expecting his big break any moment now.
Here is where he was failed by his parents. As a parent it is your job to help your child find success. First of all, you have to find out what he is good at and what he might be good at and find doors to open for him. The parent should guide their child in conversation and by exposing him to new people, ideas, and activities. We live in an age where information is literally at our finger tips. The Internet is full of information on most any subject. Too many parents I have met operate on their opinions. When I have questioned the basis of their opinions I have been dismayed to find out that there is rarely a factual basis. For the most part, they make decisions based on self-invented thoughts, whims if you please. Parents, of all people, should know how difficult it is to compete in this world and should open as many doors as possible for their children.
Dreams are wonderful, but without proactive steps they are merely illusions. Unfortunately many of my young friends find themselves in this stagnant mindset mostly due to their upbringing.