Aspiration: Dream Well—You May Find Yourself There
I used to want to be a Power Ranger, but now I want to be an Olympic champion.
—Aaron Cook, British taekwondo champion
With 12 seconds left on the clock, Andrés Iniesta has the ball. He dribbles past a defender . . . sees Messi . . . passes a long ball across the midfield, which Messi controls easily. Now with the ball, Messi makes a fabulous turn and now he's past one defender, two . . . the goalie steps out—dives! Messi shoots high in the corner—GOAL!!!!!!
This is a description of my sons Charlie and Will (aged 11 and 9 at the time) and me in the backyard reenacting famous soccer players performing astounding feats on the field. My daughter Annie does the same kind of thing as she lip syncs Adele and Taylor Swift. This kind of emulation and aspirational practice is quite valuable, it turns out. When we spend hours envisioning that we possess particular skills and attributes, or emulating the mannerisms or personalities of others we admire, we move in the direction of that aspiration—we become capable of what we envision and aspire to.
Aspirations can come from many sources, but often it's from a person, fictional or real, whom we find heroic. Take Aaron Cook, who was born only a couple years before the television show Mighty Morphin Power Rangers debuted in 1993. Although the show was initially criticized for the constant use of violence, Cook, as a boy, found it mesmerizing and inspiring. He wanted to be just like ...