I once listened to a radio interview where someone said, in essence, “Nobody has the right to destroy a child’s dream.” This instantly rang true to me. I have yet to determine why this message came across so powerfully to me, seemingly out of nowhere. But I have not let the absence of an explanation in any way deteriorate my conviction in the truthfulness of this statement.
Nobody has the right to destroy a child’s dream.
This philosophy seems closely tied to “the American dream” and “the pursuit of happiness” referenced in the U.S. Declaration of Independence. The origins of this statement represent the thought that every person has a right to pursue happiness.
Interestingly, happiness is not limited by any single definition. The founding fathers did not try to dictate what things or activities constitute happiness. They simply wanted to recognize the existence of a fundamental right (something greater than society’s bodies of government) of each person to pursue happiness.
I love working with dreamers. Inventors, by their very nature, tend to dream of things that are new to them. Not everything turns out to be new within the broader context of society and technology, but the “pursuit of something new” is an integral part of “the pursuit of happiness” for many inventors.
Even corporate bodies, which are constructions of government statutes and regulations, often profess a focus on innovation. While some may argue that these fictional entities are primarily focused on the monetization of innovation, instead of the raw discovery of innovation itself, these organizations can only exist with the support of real people who are individually and collectively driven by innovation.
Perhaps the pursuit of happiness should be considered from an analogous perspective: “the pursuit of happiness” is merely a restatement of “the happiness of pursuit.” Who among us hasn’t felt the excitement that accompanies dreaming of something that seems beyond our reach? Certainly, the “thrill of the chase” is exhibited in many aspects of our life, including the social search for companionship, the professional search for promotion, the excitement of pitching the next big client, the suspense of a last-minute goal, the camaraderie of fans who love the sport as much as you, racing toward a PR, and so many more aspects of our lives.
This is why nobody has the right to destroy a child’s dream, or anyone’s dream for that matter. To destroy the dream of another is to limit their pursuit of happiness and, ultimately, to deny them the happiness of pursuit.
Sure, there are many times when we feel we know better because we’ve been there, we’ve tried and failed, or we’re confident that we can accurately anticipate the impending failure. But that does not justify denying someone the opportunity of pursuing their dreams. Ensuring the personal safety of those entrusted to our care may be the only exception to this position. Obviously, we should not allow minors and certain other people to incur the potential of personal danger in the name pursuing happiness and excitement. But outside of that constraint, we should be supportive rather than restrictive.
If we find ourselves in a position to deny, belittle, or criticize the dreams of another, then we are also likely in a position to encourage the happiness of pursuit. We can offer advice that will help them avoid obstacles on their happy journey.
If we are not doing so already, I suggest we take a new perspective on the dreams of others. Look for opportunities to help others find happiness in their pursuits. If we each have the fundamental right to pursue happiness, then we must acknowledge that we don’t have the right to interfere with another person’s right to pursue happiness. And the next time we encounter a “child” no matter their age, let’s commit to joining them in the happiness of their pursuits.
[This post was originally published by Jeff Holman on September 17, 2014 on LinkedIn]
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