If Adm. William McRaven’s commencement address at the University of Texas was the best, Shonda Rhimes speech at Dartmouth was a close second.
Rhimes spoke about a theme that I have occasionally posted about: should you or should you not follow your dreams… or your bliss or your gut. Is life a dream come true? Should it be?
Rhimes says it is not. Nerve, of all sites, agrees.
In Rhimes’ words:
When people give these kinds of speeches, they usually tell you all kinds of heartfelt things. They have wisdom to impart. They have lessons to share. They tell you: Follow your dreams. Listen to your spirit. Change the world. Make your mark. Find your inner voice and make it sing. Embrace failure. Dream. Dream and dream big. As a matter of fact, dream and don’t stop dreaming until all of your dreams come true.
I think that’s crap.
She continued with a meditation on happiness:
I think a lot of people dream. And while they are busy dreaming, the really happy people, the really successful people, the really interesting, engaged people, are busy doing.
Dreams are lovely. But they are just dreams. Fleeting, ephemeral, pretty. But dreams do not come true just because you dream them. It’s hard work that makes things happen. It’s hard work that creates change.
So, lesson one, I guess is: Ditch the dream and be a doer, not a dreamer. Maybe you know exactly what it is you dream of being, or maybe you’re paralyzed because you have no idea what your passion is. The truth is, it doesn’t matter. You don’t know. You just have to keep moving forward. You just have to keep doing something, seizing the next opportunity, staying open to try something new. It doesn’t have to fit your vision of the perfect job or the perfect life. Perfect is boring.
You want to be a writer? A writer is someone who writes every day, so start writing. You don’t have a job? Get one. Any job. Don’t sit at home waiting for the magical opportunity. Who are you? Prince William? No. Get a job. Go to work. Do something until you can do something else.
It’s not what you dream, it’s what you do.
To me it sounds like Rhimes, while an undergraduate at Dartmouth, took a course in Aristotle’s ethics. If so, good for her, and good for Dartmouth.
If not, hats off to her for having figured it out herself.