Today was one of those days. I had a lot that I wanted to accomplish and I was productive to a point, but then I got hung up and couldn’t work on the projects I wanted to work on, which resulted in frustration and wanting to chuck my sewing machine out the window and eat large amounts of dark chocolate. I didn’t do either, but I felt like it. I work well under pressure, but sometimes the busy-balance is just right and then something else is piled on top and I want to crawl into a hole. Today wasn’t a bad day, but it was just one of those days. I know tomorrow will be better.
Due to the frustrations experienced, I don’t have anything new and exciting to share. As I was sitting at my laptop, staring at the screen, writing something, deleting it and rewriting it, I remembered a post I started writing a couple of weeks ago, when I was so inspired that my fingers could hardly keep up with the words formed in my head. I don’t know why I abandoned it, but I think it was meant for today.
So, you may think that a lesson from Rockefeller would be about making and managing large amounts of money, but it’s not. It’s about dreaming big.
A couple of weeks ago, I was watching National Parks, a beautiful documentary by Ken Burns. It makes you want to pack up your family in a Ford Fairmont station wagon and set out to explore some of the most breathtaking places in our country. I love how Ken Burns tells larger stories of history by using smaller stories of individuals who somehow played a part. One of those small stories in National Parks was about a man named Horace Albright, who had a big dream. He wanted to make the Grand Tetons and surrounding valley a part of Yellow Stone National Park. He plugged away at making that dream happen, but kept hitting roadblocks and dead ends.
One day, he had an opportunity to share his dream with a private investor with enough money to make it happen – John D. Rockefeller Jr. He took Rockefeller and his wife through the valley and told them about his dream as they watched the sunset over a beautiful view.
Nothing happened during that meeting, but a few months later, Rockefeller asked Albright to visit him with details of making the Tetons a part of the park. At that meeting, Albright shared a modest proposal with cost estimates on purchasing only some of the land he had talked about when sharing his dream a few months earlier. Rockefeller stopped him. He was only interested in an “ideal project”, Albright’s entire dream.
Rockefeller bought over 30,000 acres of land based on Albright’s revised proposal and two years later, Congress created Grand Teton National Park.
(Albright at the dedication of Grand Teton National Park.)
I was so moved by this story and challenged as well. I think Albright thought the way a lot of us do. I have this huge dream, but I need to scale it back if I’m going to be realistic. Somewhere along the way,”realistic” and “big dreams” became opposites. I don’t know why or when that happened, but it’s a real bummer to big dreamers and I think it’s an unspoken rule that keeps us from reaching and working towards what we really want. We’ll settle for a shadow of our real dream, because that seems more realistic.
This story, to me, was an awesome reminder to not do that! I don’t know the exact words Rockefeller said to Albright, but in my imagination, I hear him saying, “Your dream was bigger than this. Why doesn’t your plan match your dream?”
I could really relate to this, because I’m someone who has huge dreams when I’m quietly sitting alone, but when I actually put pen to paper, I get “realistic” and start explaining to myself why my dreams are silly and out of reach. I’m not saying you’re not dreaming big enough or you’re not following your dream or you need to go steamroll everyone who isn’t 100% on board with your dreams.
All I’m saying is that this little piece of history challenged me. And I hope it challenges you as well.
If you like this post, you might enjoy A Lesson from the Dust Bowl.
All of the photos shared in this post are from pbs.org.