Before You Were Famous

Young people are the best about dreams. Unlike grownups, they see the possibilities first and get excited about what could be. We see the difficulties first and we focus on how hard it will be to accomplish the dream.

“I’m gonna be a basketball star.”

“You know how difficult it is to play in the NBA? Only 1% ever make it. You’ll have to eat better, get in shape, and practice for hours every day.”

“I’m gonna be an astronaut and go to the moon.”

“You know how difficult it is to be an astronaut? Besides, no one’s been to the moon in over forty years”

Sound familiar?

If a student tells you about their dreams—try not to shoot them down with the difficulties. Let them dream. In fact, encourage them to dream and get excited about it. Grab a piece of paper and have them sign it. Tell them, “When you go to the moon and you’re crazy famous, I’m gonna sell this online and make a stack of cash.”


You’ll see a smile that’s impossible to forget. Trust me. I’ve seen it and I still have the autographs to prove it—a soon to be chief of police, world class golfer, NBA star, and Olympic gold medalist to name just a few. If you want to add a little pizzazz, keep a specially colored file folder in your office. When the kids ask you what it is, tell them it’s your Star Folder and you keep it so you can prove to the world that you knew them when...

If the dream never comes true—so be it. That’s not the point. The point is that you’re on their side and they know it unequivocally. So don’t focus on the difficulties, focus on the possibilities, focus on the person.

By doing so, you’ll engender trust. The greater the trust, the deeper the relationship. The stronger the relationship the better the communication.

School safety is predicated on the concept of reciprocity—I’ll watch your back if you watch mine. In 75% of all school attacks someone knew about it before it happened (most often a student) but didn’t come forward.

It begs the question—why not?

Why didn’t they tell someone!

I can’t help but wonder if these students had really great relationships with adults—adults who they trusted and were absolutely certain that they could tell them anything and the adult would only be supportive and 100% on their side—if more would have come forward.

We’ll never know.

However, I think it’s safe to say that if students can’t share things that are vulnerable to negative and adverse reactions with adults, then there’s a really good chance that they won’t.

Every day, every engagement, every conversation is a chance to prove to students that they can. Let it start with supporting their dreams regardless of how realistic they may be.


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