Well maybe Willie Nelson said it slightly differently: "Mammas, don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys / Don't let 'em pick guitars or drive them old trucks / Let 'em be doctors and lawyers and such / Mammas, don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys / 'Cause they'll never stay home and they're always alone / Even with someone they love."
I heard Willie's song the other day and I reflected on what my answer might have been when I was asked the question all children are asked at some point, "What is it you want to be when you grow up?" The question might come from a teacher or a parent or grandparent, but at some point, we are all asked the question.
There are some statistics that point to the fact that approximately 30 percent of people end up working in careers they dreamed of as children. So what happens to the other 70 percent of us? Maybe our dreams and desires changed as we matured or went through school and found other interests. Maybe when we graduated there were no job openings in our field or in the area where we lived, so we were forced to find other work. In some cases, even for some of us well into the latter part of our careers, we never quite knew what we really wanted to be or do.
I don't remember exactly what my answers were when I was a young boy and was asked what I wanted to be, but somewhere I do remember seeing myself following in the footsteps of my grandfather. But what I do remember is the feeling I had when I was already well into my own career and asking my own children what they wanted to be when they grew up. And I remember their answers. I loved to ask them the question over and over again and as they aged their answers did change, but their dreams did not, and that is the point.
I believe our responsibility to our children, our nieces and nephews, grandchildren or people we mentor at any level is to help them learn to dream and help give them guidance as they go through their journey. Of course we want the very best for those in our care, and we can never give in to forcing our hand upon where their dreams will take them. It would be wonderful if they became doctors and lawyers and such as Willie Nelson sings, as long as that is what fulfills their own goals and dreams.
Here's the other point. We see more and more that our children are being raised in an era of social media and are receiving input from many sources with a variety of views. Without proper guidance, social input and influence could either work to shape the future of our children or rob the true passions of our children. It is so important that we make sure to counter balance the social input with good questioning and listening skills so that we can give them the very best chance at becoming and/or doing whatever it is they would like to do. We are not flying the airplane nor landing it for them, we are just providing some navigation along the way.
So how about you? How about the young people in your own life? Do they have hopes and dreams of what they would like to be one day? I would love to hear those stories at firstname.lastname@example.org, and when we can help someone else become all it is that they want to be, it really will be a better than good week.
Michael Norton is a resident of Castle Rock, the former president of the Zig Ziglar Corporation, a strategic consultant and a business and personal coach.