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Do Your Children Have Permission To Dream?

"Dancing is bigger than the physical body. Think bigger than that. When you extend your arm, it doesn't stop at the end of your fingers, because you're dancing bigger than that. You're dancing spirit." Judith Jamison

Judith Jamison performing The Solo Cry.

Think back to the first time someone told you that you couldn't be an astronaut, or a ballerina. Or remember what happened the time you heard your artistic masterpiece described as "scribble scrabble?" Consider as an adult the effect those thoughtless comments had on your personality? Our children are born learning to cry for what they need and be pretty content if they're fed, dry and loved. Then the growing and learning starts. What is your child learning about his potential to change the world? What message is she getting about her value and the worth of her dreams?

You may have heard the story, either in one of my talks or in a post, that in second grade I wanted to be a ballerina. There was a classic picture in our classroom of ballerinas in a circle. They looked so beautiful and free, that I decided I wanted to be one. My second-grade teacher, Mrs. Olsen, told me that "black girls can't be ballerinas." It was 1966 and it was apparently ok to say that to a child. Putting that dream away, I modified my expectations of what I could be, based on what I saw those who looked like me doing. While I likely would have grown out of the idea of being a ballerina, the lesson I learned was, "temper your expectations of what life can be." Fortunately, I have grown out of that lesson, too. (I detest the phrase: "Manage your expectations!")

None of us can go back and live second grade again, and I for one would never want to -- well except maybe to be less well behaved in Mrs. Olsen's class. We learn our lessons; some that shape us and some that damage us. Perhaps we are gifted with people who come alongside and say, "Sure you can!" We grow, change, and experience some measure of success if we put our minds to it. We survive.

But what would happen in future generations if your second grader, or 8th grader, or high school sophomore, was given encouragement to dream bigger than what they see? What cures for disease might be discovered? What art could be created? What solutions to world problems might be found? What would happen if we didn't imply that they should "manage their expectations?" In his book, "The Assignment," Mike Murdock presents the thesis that we are all created to solve a problem. Could we be murdering solutions before they happen because they come wrapped in our children's dreams? What might happen if you became a protector of your child's dreams until that child can protect them him or herself? Will you dare demonstrate to them the value of a dream by living your own?

Yes, I’ve written a children’s book about purpose, and you are welcome to buy it here: However, what’s more important is for your child (or grandchild) to see YOU demonstrate the pursuit of your own dream. What matters to you? What are YOU willing to risk to be the solution to a problem? Join us at the book signing on May 22nd (register here) for a series of activities that will help you and your child value your dreams even more. I can't wait to see you. You are loved.

PS to the Mrs. Olsens and others like her: Judith Jamison was 78 years old on May 10th, so she was already dancing when you told me I couldn't be a ballerina. There is someone today doing what you are telling a child she can't do . **Licks out tongue***

Michele Aikens is the CEO & Lead Coach of Sepia Prime Communications & Coaching. She is usually better behaved than the above comment would indicate. Email her at, to talk about your dreams. You can follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

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