Aspirational for Life: A Manifesto
“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.”
― Henry David Thoreau
“What do you want to be when you grow up?” It a question that is commonly asked of children, with the assumption that the children not only ought to be dreaming of a bright future, but dreaming BIG. We tell them, “You can be anything you want to be, doing anything you want to do. The future belongs to you.”
But soon the children start to grow up, and a curious thing happens. The children grow in knowledge, in skills, into adults with the potency to make things happen in the world on a grander and grander scale. But that push to dream big often shrinks.
Why don’t we ask adults what they want to be in the next 20, 50, 100 years with the assumption that their aspirations – and their abilities to accomplish them – ought only to keep growing?
Yes, there are those of us who will hold fast to that youthful flame, who know that our ambition and our drive for more is central to what’s best within us, who inspire and guide others to reach to achieve their own potentials. But why is that not most, if not all, of humanity?
Every human being ought to be aspirational for life. Every human being ought to keep dreaming bigger and bigger, and not just dreaming but acting, taking on the responsibility to keep growing and transforming dreams into reality. This is the mission and the call of this manifesto. This is a project I’m calling “Aspiration Pursuits”. This is a journey of exploration and the beginnings of a movement for change.
It's a movement because, I recognize that certain fundamental changes are necessary if we are to create a culture that empowers everyone to be effectively aspirational for life. Some of the necessary changes run very deep indeed. And the goal is not one that can be achieved by just one person working alone.
It’s a journey because, while I can confidently say I’ve gleaned insights from both ancient wisdom traditions and cutting-edge science to tackle this problem of expanding aspirations, as far as I can see, no one has got it all figured out just yet, least of all me. I see myself as having traveled several steps down the path, hopefully enough to point out useful observations while gathering a sense of what’s ahead – but this road is long, and much of the territory remains uncharted.
As a luxury travel agency owner who works with entrepreneurs to plan and manage high-end destination retreats, masterminds, and VIP Day events, I’ve witnessed the shortcomings of various brands that position themselves as “aspirational”. As a mastermind facilitator and coach myself with a background in the psychology of flow, self-actualization, and peak performance, I’m only too well aware of the self-imposed impediments and limiting beliefs that keep so many shackled with heads bowed and hearts heavy, instead of blazing forward to realize their distinctive potentials.
The obstacles are numerous and oftentimes nuanced. For example, there are the lures of the comforts of the status quo – which may even have been admirably hard-won, but overtime harden into precarious rigidity. There are the pulls of envy and resentment – which may temporarily soothe a bruised ego, but will never provide the motivation or tools to achieve a truly flourishing self-esteem. There are ambitions proceeding from a scarcity mindset that if attained may provide short-term relief, but never full-fledged abundance. There are desires that veer toward the Scylla and Charybdis of crass materialism on the one hand or dubious spiritual claims on the other – and getting lost in the entanglements of either of these monsters will just impede the development of a healthy, holistic mind-body integration.
Plus, not all goals are good. The world doesn’t need serial killers scaling their mission or operations. There is a well-documented “dark side” to peak performance that requires us to establish frameworks and standards so that our efforts will ultimately result in actual flourishing.
There is a deep philosophical question: what, exactly, constitutes “success”? It will take a multi-faceted inquiry and approach to develop answers that are both consistent with our common nature as human beings and applicable to each of us as complex, unique individuals.
The first step, however, is clear. We must insist to rise.
We must lift our heads and insist on the upward gaze, insist on greatness, nobility, and exaltation. This will give us the motivation and fuel necessary to do the hard work of discovering what is worthy to pursue, and why, and how to best accomplish it.
The goal of the Aspiration Pursuits project is to unravel all these issues to their roots while exploring potential solutions in order to empower more human beings than ever before to be aspirational for life, continuously growing in their ambition, vision, understanding, and power to create good in the universe. It is time to envision the most ambitious and lofty sky castles we can, and also do the deep work to provide them with the solid foundations necessary so that they will stand. It is time to dream bigger than we ever have before, as well as go beyond dreaming to build in reality.
Are you committed to a life of development, becoming, and the relentless pursuit of excellence?
To your ever-growing success, - Joia