Let me tell you about Ralph. Ralph was seventy going on eighteen. He considered himself to be young at heart. I met Ralph almost six years ago through a study abroad program. Throughout his years as an entrepreneur, Ralph was able to build a comfortable life for his family. He was humble and always had a smile on his face. Ralph had a positive outlook on life and loved to travel the world. One day while eating dinner, a group of students asked Ralph how he achieved success and happiness. His response: “Your mind is not your friend. Therefore, you need to control it.” I didn’t grasp the full meaning of what Ralph said until recently. A ten-year-old forced me to think deeper into Ralph’s words.
Let me explain...
At WellTraveled, we enjoy giving interactive travel seminars to students. At the end of each seminar, students complete an anonymous survey including questions related to travel. We ask students to identify the obstacles that they believe are holding them back from traveling the world. The responses are usually the same: age, fear and money. Recently, I had the privilege of conducting a travel seminar in a 5th grade classroom. While reading through the survey responses, one student’s stood out to me. This particular student stated that “not being smart enough” was an obstacle to travel. This bothered me. When I mentioned this to my wife, it led to a deep discussion regarding the power that self doubt can have on an individual, young or old. We pondered the idea that speaking things into existence can change one’s mindset drastically. The first person that came to mind was Ralph. I remembered what he had said almost six years ago, “Your mind is not your friend. Therefore, you need to control it” and immediately it hit me...
Your mind is not your friend.
Many of us encounter those inner thoughts that tell us that we cannot accomplish a goal or be successful in pursuing our dreams. We may say words like “I can’t do that”, “I can’t follow my passion because…” or like the 5th grader wrote, “I am not smart enough”. As a result, our mind shuts down our ability to take action, and we get discouraged from taking the first step towards our goals. This is simply our mind playing tricks on us.
Therefore, you need to control it.
Instead of saying “I can’t”, we should say "this is how I can" or "this is how I will". This tricks our mind to begin to think of ways of accomplishing those goals. As a result, we begin to shift to “I can”. Suddenly, we take back control.
Growing up, I dreamed of traveling the world. Like the many students I speak to however, I thought that I needed a lot of money to do so. But this didn’t stop me from dreaming. When WellTraveled was just an idea, Brandon and I shared some of our travel goals. The one goal we shared was to travel to all seven continents. Yet, we were left with the question: how will we make that work?
If I had the opportunity to speak to that anonymous 5th grade student again, I would simply say: “Never think that you are not smart enough to do anything. Just remember what my good friend Ralph told me: Your mind is not your friend. Therefore, you need to control it.”
Educator & Parents - how do you provide your students and children with the support that encourages them to dream big?
Students - think of one goal that you have and create a plan on how you will accomplish it. Make it a point to share your goal with your family, friends and teacher. In addition, if you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be? What would you do? What would you see? Dream big.
Stay Educated. Stay Empowered. Stay WellTraveled.