When people share their goals with you, do you help them launch their dreams—or try to bring them back to Earth?
In his book The Man Who Listens to Horses (Ballantine), famed horse trainer Monty Roberts tells about the time one of his teachers in high school assigned a paper called “My Goals in Life.” The teacher, Mr. Fowler, was interested only in practical goals—not fantasies about going to Hollywood to become a movie star, and the like. But young Monty had a serious dream. The son of a horse trainer, he longed to own a thoroughbred racehorse facility. Monty turned in a detailed plan to achieve his dream.
Mr. Fowler returned his paper with a failing grade. “It’s a wild, unattainable dream,” he told the teen. “I know your family and background; it would not be possible.” He insisted Monty rewrite the paper.
The next day, after talking with his mother, Monty returned his original paper to Mr. Fowler. He included a note saying he believed in his plan and the teacher shouldn’t limit his aspirations. Mr. Fowler didn’t respond at the time, but Monty got an A in the course.
Monty ultimately achieved his dream through hard work and determination. Many years later, he received a call from Mr. Fowler, who wanted to arrange a tour of Monty’s stables for his church group.
After the tour, Mr. Fowler told the group about the term paper and the note Monty had written. “There was a time when I told Monty that this was unattainable,” he said. “Now we’ve all had a good look around, and seen how he proved me wrong.” His student, he said, had taught him “the most valuable lesson I ever learned.”