Several months ago I watched a concert featuring Taylor Swift performing on a college campus (HarveyMudd). This school of 800+ students won a contest to have Taylor Swift perform an on-campus concert before the student body. Considering HarveyMudd was such a small school, I found it pretty impressive they won this contest. I was extra proud of their accomplishment because oldest son is a ’02 graduate.
Taylor shared some amazing stories about her song writing, the inspirational background of some of her songs, and how passionate she was about her music at a very early age. Listening to the songs with the added insight behind them made them even more enjoyable. For such a young person, I found her commitment to writing and singing music extremely impressive and inspiring.
The story that resonated most with me was when she shared conversations she had with her mom as Taylor started dreaming about her career. The conversations went something like this…
Taylor: “Mom, do you think I will ever be able to make an album?”
Tayler’s mom: “I don’t know dear.”
Taylor: “Mom, do you think I will be able to be a music star?”
Taylor’s mom: “I don’t know dear.”
While I do not remember exactly the questions that Taylor asked her mom, the answers her mom offered were what really resonated with me and caught my attention — “I don’t know dear.”
Taylor’s mom offered the most powerful, inspiring, and wonderful gift to her daughter in those answers.
“I don’t know dear.” There is nothing in those answers that says “yes” or “no.” There is nothing in that response that discourages or encourages the dream. There is nothing in those answers that says it is possible or not possible. Simply, “I don’t know dear.”
What her mom gave her was the opportunity in perseverance, in adventure, in discovery, in pursuit of the answer — “I don’t know.” You will have to find out for yourself and see what happens.
Dreams are very fragile ideas in the earliest stages of development. How they are supported, encouraged, discouraged, affirmed, or denigrated determines a great deal about their survival. The best intention of parents, friends, fans, and advisers can inadvertently destroy a dream by how they engage. Far too many times a dream falls to the wayside because it gets lost in the process of too much or too little interest, influence or involvement.
“I don’t know.” Keep playing your music and see what happens. Beautiful. The adventure and dream are alive!
We could all learn a great lesson from this approach. Instead of trying to clearly define where the dream will take us while engaging others to helping us determine its potential, all we really need to do is allow our energy and our passion to create the path and see where it goes. Action is progress and progress leads to an outcome. That ought to be enough.
Instead of trying to define what the outcome will be to decide if it is worthwhile, valuable, or amazing, embrace the unknown and let your commitment and your passion lead the way. “I don’t know!” It is a work in progress and we will find out when we get there.