Saturday 8 November 2008

Putting Obama dreams into perspective

Trail-blazers are not templates

If I see another inane blog that tries to ride the Obama success wave into passing the need to achieve to the next generation, I would most probably become violently sick.

Senator Obama in his achievement is a trail-blazer that reveals just another opportunity to achievement, he is not the way or the path to success – in fact, his path to success was so unlikely, there were unbelievers up till the very moment that victory was declared.

Why not you?

I find it mischievous and silly that suddenly most parents who have written about their child being able to reach the heights that Senator Obama has reached are probably much younger than Senator Obama who is 47.

If I recall, Senator McCain at 72, was about to become the oldest ever first term president, so it goes without saying that those parents might well aspire to high office rather than already conceding to a defeatist complex and immediately passing the mantle of high ambition to their children.

Now, if those parents really do see their kids aspiring to the highest office, I hope they are already breaking their backs giving their kids the best education in the best development environment, having them mix with leaders and commoners alike and charting a clear course to this high office since they can now see the future – unlikely.

So, who came after?

We dream but rarely walk or run towards that dream, we are full of fantasies and hopes which are fine for determining a course but never really engage on that course, rather we hope that we would be translated to the new place by miracles, accidents, luck or chance.

What am I saying here? There are many English mothers who would have dreamt when Margaret Thatcher became the Prime Minister of Great Britain in 1979, their daughters could become great leaders too, but 29 years on, there is no woman in the horizon going for that post.

Role models are just stars

Imagine how many pathways we would all be looking down if for every first and highest achiever we decided our kids would one day become one and every of those achievements.

A good example is in the week that Senator Obama became the first African-American President-elect, Lewis Hamilton became the first black F1 champion – I should think parents would now enrol their kids in presidency and F1 School?

I do not think so, people like Tiger Woods, Venus & Serena Williams, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Nelson Mandela and many more who are high achievers and first amongst equals are role models, but being a role model does not mean that they are ready for cloning – they are not templates for success, they are revelations of possibilities.

When Tiger Woods won, I would not have been surprised that some parents might have booked golf lessons for their kids without knowing if a birdie or a bogey was a bird, a score or a joke.

They are stars, they allow us to look up, see an array of lights in the sky, point to significant situations and aspire. They are not dies through which we can force our kids so that the resulting mould is a clone of the role model.

The open doors is usually far off

These possibilities only become realities to individuals who capture a vision of what the successes of their role models mean and find a way to work harder and excel at whatever they do.

These trail-blazers might open doors, smash glass ceilings, bring down hurdles and reveal what is possible, but they usually do not have hordes riding right behind them through the openings they have created – we can all aspire to be president, we would not all become president.

The danger is not getting sucked into a do-or-die ambition where the quest for great achievement takes away our humanity and turns us into cold and calculating malevolents.

We can and dream and should dream, we can ride the waves of the successes of those who have gone before us, but one man’s great success does not suddenly confer that victory and status to every child who witnesses that day.

At most, it reveals what is possible, what happens in a lifetime might not get us to the gates we have aspired to pass through, the ability to re-evaluate and reconsider our situations in relation to where we are should lead us to become the best we can become – nothing is impossible, but do we know what is possible and what we can make possible for ourselves?

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