What’s your dream?

Today Laura Dekker, a 16-year-old Dutch girl, arrived in the harbor of the Caribbean island of St. Maarten. Unremarkable perhaps, except for the fact that she just finished sailing around the world, the youngest recorded person to do so–alone.

This is a venture that cost legendary explorer Magellan his life. Dekker battled the Dutch authorities who forbade her journey, she faced down her own self-doubt aboard her 38′ “Guppy,”  and en route she encountered all manner of harrowing maritime tribulations.

But she circumnavigated the globe. Why? In her words, “It’s a dream, and I wanted to do it.” As we ponder the big questions in life it’s easy to forget that sometimes there’s just a simple answer.

Who do you blame?

 “If we fail, it would be only our fault,” said an engineer in Tripoli quoted by Reuters. “Before we blamed everything on Gaddafi, it was easy. Now we can only blame ourselves.”

 When someone else is calling the shots there is an element of freedom in the repression.  Freedom to blame someone else for your troubles. And the more iron-fisted the control is, the more excuses you have for your own predicament—the more it’s someone else’s fault. It’s even more convenient if that someone is on posters, TV, or represented by statues. The name for your pain becomes ubiquitous.

 Not everyone in the world can blame a dictator or monarch for their misfortune or lack of success, though. But many have a radio show host or political figure-du jour that fits the bill. And others choose to fill this role with vengeful bosses, overbearing spouses, or controlling parents or in-laws. Not to mention the looming specter of corporations, government, or religion. There’s no shortage of people or organizations to lay blame, and we can usually find like-minded confidants to share in our woe.

That’s because complaining is easy. it’s not easy to take stock of ourselves and take the action necessary to remedy the shortcomings that hold us back. It’s not easy to topple those statues we love to point our fingers at. But it’s something that everyone can do if they choose. As Teddy Roosevelt said, “If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.”

So declare your own little revolution, throw some ropes around whatever it is you’ve been blaming, and topple it once and for all.

More business? Not today, thanks!

Shimmering rows of new vehicles gleamed in the late afternoon sun as I pulled into the dealership. The latest models of every style and color awaited my inspection. Ah, the potential!

I was in the mood to hear some special offers. I was in the mood for that new car smell. So I strode into the dealership and six men in ties paused in their conversation around a reception desk.

“Hi,” I said.

“Sorry, we’re closed,” one of them replied.


“Yea, we’ll be open again on Monday,” another fellow added.

“Monday?” I looked at my watch, it was five minutes past the hour. They nodded then turned to resume their conversation as I sheepishly backed out through the doors.

Closed? I thought as I walked across the lot. And the more I thought about it the stranger it seemed.  This wasn’t a dollar-type store, this was an establishment that sold 4000 lb vehicles with $45,000 thousand dollar price stickers. How did they know I didn’t have a blank check in my pocket?  How did they not want to find out? 

I know what it’s like to work long hours so I tried to think of ways to give them a break;  maybe it was a really busy day, maybe they all had important post-work plans, like a wedding or funeral. Maybe management was strict about the hours—some kind of policy or something. Even then, wouldn’t one of them have wanted to get my contact info to follow up with me first thing Monday? You would think.

I thought about the lengthy, costly, time consuming process involved in getting me into the dealership: the vehicles had to be designed, then manufactured, then shipped, and marketed. All that work to get the vehicle on the lot and someone like me through the door.

As I drove away with a plan to go elsewhere all I could think of was that being a leader in whatever business you’re in means being open to opportunity beyond 9-5.

Today more than ever, right?

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