I still remember laughing and making fun of a teammate on my 7th-grade AAU basketball team. His name was Zach and he was tall. That’s why he made the team. He wasn’t coordinated, he could barely dribble without bouncing the ball off his foot, and watching him shoot beyond a lay-up was embarrassing.
Zach and I would sit the bench a lot of the time. I wasn’t overly good either. If we got playing time, it was because the game was already decided. So I had a lot of time to be around Zach. He would constantly talk about how he was going to make it to the NBA someday. In my mind, this was a ridiculous dream. How could a guy who sits on the bench the majority of the game and can’t even make a lay-up half the time, think that he has a chance playing among the best basketball players in the world?
My phrase for Zach was “keep dreaming.” Not in an encouraging and supportive way, but in the snickering, discouraging, you are absolutely crazy for thinking like that, kind of way. I would make fun of his dream because it didn’t seem even remotely possible.
Fast forward to 2018.
Zach just finished his 18th season in the NBA.
He’s made 2 All-Star teams and over $100 million dollars.
He accomplished his dream and then some.
No thanks to me.
I’ve taken this to heart as a teacher.
Dreams are important. Dreams are exciting. Dreams are a driver for our lives.
That’s why I choose to tell my students to keep dreaming. Their reality is not my reality. Their dreams aren’t necessarily my dreams, but who I am to stand in their way?
I say keep dreaming not in a discouraging way, but one that is uplifting and confident building. No longer do I talk about how it’s not practical or statistically unlikely to do something. No longer do I come from a place of judgment, but a place of support.
When our students come to us and say they want to be a Youtuber for a career, I no longer laugh and state how absurd that is. I often ask what skills and experiences they believe they need to achieve this.
If they want to be an NBA player, I often ask them to research and figure out what some of the current NBA players practice routines are like to give students a sense of what it might take.
I look at Elon Musk as a prime example. The guy is a dreamer. He has critics galore that say what he is doing is impossible. Yet, here he is, putting his dreams into reality and blowing away what we thought was conceivable.
The reality is, we all have hopes and dreams and no matter how ridiculous we think somebody else’s dream is, it’s not our dream to let go of.
I’m thankful Zach didn’t give up on his dream because of an annoying teammate.
I’m thankful that we have the ability to dream and turn it into reality.
I’m thankful that my kids will be allowed to dream and dream big. Because you never know what might come from a simple dream.
So keep on dreaming.