Martin Luther King and Courageous Goals

In August 2013 we saw great coverage of the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr’s “I have a dream” speech and the march on Washington. What greater a courageous goal could there be than that everyone is considered equal, judged only on the content of their character? How can we use this spirit of goal setting in what we do?

Some goals are big and some goals are huge, and Martin Luther King Jr’s goal was truly huge. However, he had the courage to speak of his dream in Washington in August 1963. By sharing his dream it became real and was owned by millions of people. As he spoke his truth and said “I have a dream” this became one of the most evocative speeches of all time.

Martin Luther King I have a dream pictureHowever the “I have a dream…” section was an unscripted part of his speech that he had not prepared. As he was speaking one of his supporters standing close behind him said “talk about your dream.” Can you imagine if he had not mentioned his dream, would the speech have been as powerful or memorable?

So how does this relate to us as coaches? Sometimes, I look at these great historical figures when on TV or You Tube and think of them as being fundamentally different to me. So different that I can’t possibly do what they do, or achieve what they have achieved, and so I might not be worthy of setting courageous goals. But this is not the case. We are all the same, physically and psychologically we have the same make-up, the same fears, vulnerabilities, aspirations and dreams. The degree or amount of these may differ, but not the type.

We should not be scared and hold back from big goals. Some goals take a few months, others take many years to achieve. This week, many commentators said that Martin Luther King’s dream has not yet been achieved. This could be a criticism, but it could also mean that the goal is so big and fundamental that it takes time. So we should not be discouraged by the passage of time.

With resolve and re-doubling of our efforts any courageous goal can be achieved. We may need to re-evaluate the ‘how’ but not the ‘what’. We may need to think of different ways to achieve a goal; over time the stakeholders may change, the micro or macro system in which we operate may change, etc. and so our approach needs to be flexible and responsive. Through awareness of the system we can identify new approaches for achieving the goal.

Consider how you can do this for yourself, or when working as a coach with others.

We need to be courageous to speak our dreams, and even more courageous to pursue them to the end.

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