TED Conversations

Mohammed Al Medfa

This conversation is closed.

What would you tell children about pursuing their Dreams and Changing the World?

Hi everyone,
I'd like to ask you all what you would tell young people, whether your own children or people you've never met - about pursuing their dreams and trying to change the world?

With permission from each of you, I would like to ask to quote some of the answers that are provided in a video I'm creating for a project of mine that is all about encouraging people to pursue their dreams and aiming to better enable them to do what they truly want in life. I'd love to credit each of you by name, but if you'd rather I don't, just let me know.

These quotations will be put alongside some beautiful works of art about dreams to create a kind of 'Dream Wall' that is filmed as part of the video.

I'm looking for any honest feelings you have. And am really excited to see what this great community thinks about something so wonderful and, I think, central to this period of great opportunity.

Thank you so much.

  • thumb
    Nov 20 2011: I would begin by exposing the small child to a broad base of stories, experiences, and learning so the child would from his earliest days feel a connection to the Earth and living things. In particular I would seek to cultivate in the child a sympathy for others, regardless of superficial differences. That sense of universal interconnection and the values that reflect mutual responsibility should precede the discussion of the child's decision about his role.
    As the child gets older, I would continue to nurture an excitement about learning, an openness to experience, and an interest in trying to understand what others believe, how others feel, and the conditions in which they are living. Alongside this I would encourage the child to develop skills and understanding in a broad range of disciplines so that when the time comes to choose a direction, there are choices to consider, and so that years down the line, when his interests change, he has an option to make his contribution in a different field.
    I would offer the message that opportunities to explore and to serve are wide open and to prepare well for a variety of ways to serve. I'd want my children or students to know that children and adults dream about ways to make the world better, but I would want them to see me take positive actions every day in that direction so that they develop an early and daily habit of adding something positive to their world.
    • thumb
      Nov 20 2011: Thanks for such a thoughtful and empowering perspective.
  • thumb
    Dec 2 2011: I'd tell them: "Go for it! You can achieve your goals! You can change the world! You are a gorgeous piece of this everything that is everywhere at all times! You have infinite potential! You are powerful! You are great! Do everything with love!"

    Here's some powerful quotes:
    “Behind me is infinite power. Before me is endless possibility. Around me is boundless opportunity. Why should I fear?" - Mac Anderson
    "What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
    "Be the change you wish to see in the world." - Mahatma Gandhi
    "Don't curse the darkness - light a candle." - Chinese Proverb
    “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” - Nelson Mandela
    "The only limit to your impact is your imagination and commitment." - Anthony Robbins

    And here's a link to a beautiful song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aIFY9h8DImg
    • thumb
      Dec 6 2011: Thanks a lot Andreea! Hahah actually as a matter of fact, John Lennon's "You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one" line is going to be the first shot that we see in this whole sequence involving everyone's contributions :)

      All the quotations you've put forward are great, and I particularly like the Mac Anderson one, its really powerful!
      • thumb
        Dec 8 2011: Awesome! I can't wait to see the video! & Yes, Mac Anderson's is really powerful, one of my favorite - uplifting!
    • thumb
      Dec 12 2011: I love it. It is just what I think!
  • thumb
    Nov 21 2011: I have told my children from before they were born in to this world that they are here for a purpose. It is their job to figure out what the purpose is and how to fulfill it in the best way they can. I have not always been successful in allowing them to explore that purpose on their own, sometimes I get in their way and try to influence them with my own ideas and somehow I realize my mistake and back away.
    There will be difficulty and trials as they make their way through this world. They will fail and be very sad and they will succeed and be so happy; both outcomes will push them along the river to their next stop on the journey. It is the best that I have to offer them and though it is so wonderful in theory the practical application is the hardest thing I have ever done.
    • thumb
      Nov 22 2011: Thank you for such an honest and touching answer.

      I think all things that are truly worth doing, require us to give of ourselves. Because its a part of one's self that forms the essence of any great or wonderful deed. But in doing so, we surrender and we grow. And to be aware of the times that we sometimes get in the way is such a powerful strength, because so many would never even realize or imagine that there is anything wrong with their actions. This awareness empowers us to always reach further and be better. And thats got to be part of what life's about.
  • thumb
    Nov 21 2011: This is a topic very near and dear to my heart. It is why I moved to Laos this year. I am working with a local school (and it's no coincidence that it's called "Sunshine School") to empower students and staff to explore the possibilities of creating positive impact in their local community.

    What I've encountered in my work is that the limitations of adults (the teachers) become the limitations of children (the students) so if our children are to change we must first change. So the beautiful thing that I am observing in this process is how the students become the teachers and the teachers become the students. We all learn from each other. Oh and something else which is vital for children to make the seemingly impossible possible is support from their parents, families and community, even if that's a simple message of ecouragement: "you can do it, go try".

    Here is a powerful little 2-minute video that inspires us to imagine the possibilities, or in your words to pursue our biggest dreams. http://vimeo.com/28607481

    Keep me posted on your developments. We need more projects like this!
    • thumb
      Nov 22 2011: Thank you so much for the video and all of your wonderful feelings. I could not agree more about with everything you said about the the joint journey of growth between teachers and students. And about the vital need for support and encouragement. One of the design philosophies thats quite central to what I hope to do with Utopian is that identity is not a matter of where you have come from, but what you aspire towards. What you believe in. The way we reduce people's identities to things they have little control over (Age, nationality, name etc.) rather than the things which they decide, and which truly define who they are (Goals, Dreams, Passions, Concerns and Hopes for the world) - truly robs us of easily getting to know each other. What if when you met someone you asked 'what is your dream?', rather than 'where are you from?'.

      So many people don't even know what they truly desire. Because society isn't 'designed' to value or empower those beliefs. The wonderful thing about the digital world is..you can build societies around any perspective, and if enough people believe in that perspective, then that perspective defines the community's reality.

      I directed a production of Othello when I was 17, and every one of the 30-something people involved were all students my age or younger. And I didn't realize it at the time, but the most amazing thing about the experience we had was that we were truly 'creating' something. And so many of them say they grew and were changed by the experience, and talk to me about it years later. I think there's nothing more exciting than empowering young hearts and minds to chase the horizon :)

      Not that youth is about age, to me, youthfulness is a belief that the future will be better than the past.

      Thank you so much!
  • thumb
    Nov 20 2011: I think the fundamental about pursuing their dreams are passion and enthusiasm.
  • kaley p

    • +3
    Dec 3 2011: It's so important to do what you love! At times it can be hard to pursue your dreams, but keep at it. There are so many options and opportunities in your future be open to them and try your best. It only takes one to start a movement that makes change.
    "Be the change you see in the world." -Mahatma Gandhi
    • thumb
      Dec 6 2011: Thanks a lot Kaley. I think you're so right that we need to be open to opportunity. I always think that when people say something can't be done, its just like they've already lost by giving up before they've started. How can trying and not getting there ever be worse than giving up by default? Thanks!
  • thumb

    . . 100+

    • +3
    Nov 21 2011: Hi Mohammed - excellent project

    First This: Treat everyone the way you want to be treated.

    Second This: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DvtxOzO6OAE&feature=related

    Sounds like a wonderful project

    Best wishes :-) :-)
    • thumb
      Nov 23 2011: Thanks for your statement Juliette, its been a long time since I watched the Pursuit of Happyness but I was sure Will Smith was going to say what he did, after he realized what he'd just done. Definitely the kind of conversation that's right in line with what were talking about.

      I'm glad you like what were doing and I'll be sure to link everyone to the video and make it easy for all of you to stay up to date and get involved in your unique own way with the big stuff we hope to achieve. :)

      Thanks again.
      • thumb

        . . 100+

        • 0
        Nov 23 2011: My pleasure Mohammed :-)

        I love all the TED talks you list here. One thing stuck with me the most:

        "Really achieving your childhood dreams is wonderful. And the only thing that feels more wonderful is helping others reach theirs."

        - Randy Pausch

        p.s His talk in 2007 is what drew me in to TED :)
        • thumb
          Nov 23 2011: That's great Juliette! I'm going to incorporate that into the video, I know that many many people found the way he faced his condition and the words he shared with us so inspiring. That's such a wonderful thought that is so central to how each of us can help create a brighter tomorrow. I like to think that the better future we all hope for is already here. It is the combined result of all of our individual dreams, all of our personal ways of making the world and our own lives better. We just need to unlock those dreams, help each of us take the first step, and soon we'll realize, as I myself am realizing, that so many people feel exactly the same way you do. Thank you so much.
  • Nov 20 2011: Dream big my child! Allow nothing to reduce your thoughts and wants. Do not become like everyone else, want more, want better, want them for everyone else. Learn from others, create your own opinion, travel, see the world, gain insight, knowledge of what the world needs, of what it lacks. Finally Id say Evolve dont just try and create something, evolve beyond what you know. Conquer, expand what is unknown.
    Some Men dream things as they are and ask why?
    I dream things that never were and say why not!
    • Nov 21 2011: Hi Tiago, women dream big too.
      (just sayin') :) Good and excellent post!
  • thumb
    Nov 20 2011: Don't be afraid to dream "big" as you embark on a new path. Consider this the first day of the rest of your life.

    And did you know, i've read in an article, that according to Gallup Consulting’s research, “the best way to develop people and net the greatest return on investment in their growth is to identify their talents, then help them add the skills and knowledge that build strengths—the ability to provide consistent, near-perfect performance.” This indicates that if you do something you love and have a talent for, you’ll excel. Remember that you’re not alone in the pursuit of your dream! Never ever scared to dream "big" as you can, because we have power toward it!

    A little word from Ayn Rand, it's a really persuasive quote indeed : "The world you desired can be won. It exists, it is real, it is possible, it is yours."

    Good luck to your project

    • thumb
      Nov 20 2011: Thanks a lot for your thoughts, the great quotation and the support!
  • thumb
    Dec 12 2011: My Mother used to tell me I could do anything I wanted to do and be anything I wanted to be.

    I believed her.
    • thumb
      Dec 13 2011: Thanks Thomas! This will make a wonderful wonderful quote.
  • thumb
    Nov 27 2011: I just want them to be passionate about something and do some GOOD out of it. After all, that is ULTIMATE GOAL of DREAMING and that is to do what YOU do BEST because you want to(not because others said so).

  • Nov 24 2011: Youth is being a clean new brush, before you can paint your world, you need to touch the right kind of paint.
    ("Get ready.")

    The world might not look good to you when you leave it but you must, absolutely must, paint over your bad marks and leave your good marks. ("Strive to do good.")

    Because you will never get the chance to complete it. ("Find some friends.")

    Sometimes you'll dry out. ("Take it easy.")

    But enjoy the fact that you are only commissioned. ("Thank God and your parents.")

    ---That's what I'd say. I wish I helped. Peace
    • thumb
      Nov 26 2011: Thanks a lot for your contribution Mohammad. I like the distinct style with which you've written it. I think it'll work out well :)
  • thumb
    Nov 22 2011: I always believed that dreams come true. And it's somehow possible in our daily life. The mind of child it's like a clean paper. In a childhood we had more bright imagination than now. Why it's so? Because child has a strong faith in his dreams. He believes that this or that can exist and it's exist for him making his world interesting. Another question how to guide child's mind correctly, so he/she become a better person, a worth man or a woman of society?
    I think solution is the best movies without violence, fairy-tailes with a good ending. From the beginning parents should notice what their child like the most: painting, singing or maybe he is a good enterpreneur, so parents can help their child do develop his skills and arts. Parents should believe in their child. And this belief will grow constantly in the heart of a child, it will grow with him. He will feel his importance, his application in this world. He will know that he wasn't born accidentally, but there is some ground before it, some meaning, some purpose.
  • thumb

    Raya Gh

    • +2
    Nov 21 2011: Big dreams are easy to have but not many have the courage to pursue them. It's easier to tell yourself that you probably can't achieve it so why try. But life's too short for the easy way, give it a shot, if you fail you'll have an indescribable sense of determination and if you succeed well then your dream just came true, find another one.

    Who says one person can't change the world, one can and one will. Be part of something big, try as hard as you can not to fall into the herd and become your own self, so one day you can say I regret nothing.

  • Nov 21 2011: I would tell them to believe in something no matter how weirdo, different or great it is. I would tell them to follow that belief of him no matter if they make laugh of him, piss bimonthly the ground or get in the way. I would tell him to follows his beliefs, because there are from him and no one can borrow that, dispite the people who say that he isn't going to make it. Dispite the people who put obstacles in the way. Dispite myself. 

    I would tell him to follow their beliefs because if he doesnt does so nobody will.
    I would tell him to follow his beliefs because if he doesnt does so, he wouldn't be human. 
  • thumb
    Dec 17 2011: I find this to be a topic of deep importance, especially for me. I am currently working to receive a bachelors degree in dance and musical theater. Both of my parents support my dreams for a career in the arts, as they had careers in the arts as well. I realize that to be in a dance company or a musical is a hard life to live. Auditioning to get the job, then barely making enough to survive when you do get the job. But I have found that I would rather be happy doing something I love everyday, waking up and realizing I get to spend my time doing something that I couldn't survive without than going to work just to make money. As Sir Ken Robinson said it is who they are, I find my what I do is who I am. I will always follow my dreams even though I know it will be hard. I would tell a child that you should do what makes you happy because in this day and age so many people forget that it is about the journey not the destination. It is said that happiness is a journey not a place. You have to find what makes you happy and do it. Spend life waking up happy to go to work rather than dreading the day. Why waste time? Live in the now and for yourself.
    • thumb
      Dec 17 2011: Thats wonderful Erin! I support your completely, especially as a person who loves performing on stage myself. I'm actually trying to organize something primairly theatrical in nature as part of Utopian (the company that I'm starting (which this video relates to)). The project is called U-Art, I've got some pretty radical plans about how to track the whole production process online and open-source the brand at the end of it to let other performance groups band together around the idea, and make it something that anyone could organize their own version of (Just like TEDx). I'm having my first meeting with a bunch of students who'll be taking part in a couple of hours actually! I'd love to keep you informed about it if you like, since we're trying to create an avenue for artists and performers to find each other and collaborate with each other around doing what they love. :)
      • thumb
        Dec 19 2011: That sounds amazing. I would love to keep informed on your projects. I've always wanted to do something radical for art and the artistic community. Your ideas sound wonderful. It would be great if the artistic community/world had a way to come together and share ideas, much like TED. Some of the most eye opening ideas are expressed on TED and if art had something similar as an outlet it could far surpass expectations and preconceived notions that people have on art. Please do keep me informed, I would greatly appreciate it.
        • thumb
          Dec 19 2011: Thanks Erin! Since this thread is going to close soon [Reached the maximum 1 month I can leave it open], I'll send you a message directly when we've launched our video and I'll be sure to tell you more about U-Art in the future too :) I totally believe that the world of creative expression needs to embrace the power of technology to 'benefit people' as much as every other industry. I think there are so many performers, actors, musicians and artists (As well as everyone else really) who could have so many more opportunities to turn their combined skills into something greater than the sum of the parts involved. I know how I think that could start, and I hope we do get there. Its always great to hear other people who feel the same way. I'll be sure to keep you updated!
  • thumb
    Dec 12 2011: I would start by quoting Goethe:

    'Whatever you can do,
    or dream you can, begin it.
    Boldness has genius, magic and
    power in it...'

    Don't let anyone make you believe you can't achieve something without having tried at least once first. Persistence, if the key doesn't fit, try another door, another window, learn to climb. Being unlucky is not an achievement. Put the work in, commit and practice integrity, the chances of achieving these dreams will increase greatly. Give yourself permission to aim and miss but be ready to pull yourself together and try again.

    And finally, what I'd say is that the world doesn't need to change it just needs to be treated better. Practise love, compassion and integrity and the world will already be a better place just by you being in it.
    • thumb
      Dec 19 2011: Thank you Helena! I'm sorry I didn't comment on this earlier, I agree so wholeheartedly with your last sentiment. I just wanted to make sure I added my thanks before the thread closes!
  • thumb
    Dec 12 2011: Gather people like you and chase your dreams together.
    The world is so hard to be changed because the good guys don´t get together.
    Change the world toghether!
  • Dec 8 2011: Think small...start with one idea. And, go from there.
  • Dec 7 2011: The Process is everything
  • thumb
    Nov 22 2011: Giving!!!! The secret to a happy life. Oh, sure, at first taking seems so gratifying and filling but somehow one remains empty and never quite sated. Then one day as we are freely giving, joyfully giving something expands within and the key turns in the lock and we understand. That is the best day! To discover the concept of giving and sharing is the best gift of all. Mohammed Al Medfa, I wish for you a life filled with joyous giving.
    • thumb
      Nov 23 2011: Absolutely Sherrie! You know one of the things I've written down about what we hope to achieve with Utopian is that:
      "We aren't interested in making products for people to use. It's not about that, it's about enabling people to achieve the circumstances required to give the most they can to the World. Our goal is to enable your goals. our dream is to make your dreams come true"

      I do not believe it is impossible to achieve these things in a way that affects many many people, because the things that limit most of us, come down to things which we can influence: Self-belief, providing a platform for the expression of new ideas and endeavors, enabling people to more easily see the projects of others like them, providing a stream of opportunity to take part in small or large ways around the things that you are passionate about, making it possible for people to see where their abilities may be needed and to lend a helping hand.

      I hope that we can make these things come true for many people. And I believe we can.

      Thank you so much for your wish for my life, I hope so too and hope the same for you.
      • thumb
        Dec 6 2011: if there is one thing I have learned in my life it is that my opinion of what I can do far outweighs the opinion of any other person. if I believe that I am amazing and bright and full of possibility then... I am. if I believe that I have something to prove, something that makes me less than someone else then the energy around me changes and others look upon me as if I am less than, as if I must prove to them that I am worthy or right.
        If you, Mohammed Al Medfa, with your organization can reach out to youngsters across the globe and give them the idea that they are amazing and bright and have something to share then I support you wholeheartedly. It is less about Self Esteem and more about Self Awareness and the knowledge that one is truly capable and has something to GIVE. I tell my children that if they want to be a photographer then they must go out and take photographs. I tell them if they want to longboard and make longboards for others to enjoy, then they need to go out and ride on longboards and practice until their legs ache.
        it is very simple, do not sit around wishing that you could do something- GO OUT AND DO IT. If you are passionate and it is your calling, your gift, then everything you need will find a way to get to you and you will become what you do.
  • thumb
    Nov 22 2011: Well there's so much to share and write about this subject.
    But by personal experience, i would like to tell every child or any human being for that matter that the key to all success and all the hapiness in the world lies within each one of us!
    Our biggest gift as a human being is the power to chose! Always chose hapiness in life and all other things will fall in place. There's no such thing as a perfect world or a perfect job or anything. The ability of humans to adapt is the force that always keeps us moving forward.
    But most importantly i would tell, never be afraid to ask questions! never think abt what others might think of you, be perfectly comfortable with yourself, always! There's only one you in the world and you cannoy be compared to anyone else!
    This goes for all the parents also. just believe in your children, let them follow the path they chose, be there to guide them ,to love them whenever they need you for there is no right way to live a perfect life!
    Just be yourself and "Do not take life seriously for noone gets out alive anyways".
    Stand for what you believe in.
    • kaley p

      • +2
      Dec 3 2011: I love that you talked about the power of choice, and even more the power to choose something different. Children often change their dreams and choose something different. I would encourage children to dream as much as they like and choose as many times as they want.
    • thumb
      Dec 6 2011: You've touched on a lot of really important things Saurabh. I think you're completely right about how everything good or bad is a series of choices, and well it made me think of an interesting comparison:

      We talk about an 'infinite' universe. But what we really mean is a universe that is continuously 'expanding' at an ever greater rate (At least as far as I've read :p). If we pause right now the universe may not be infinite, but for all intents and purposes it is, since we cannot 'pause' time and it will always expand at a greater rate than our ability to reach it.

      So when you mentioned how there's no perfect job or world, in a 'static' sense, its about adaptation and continually making the right choices. That made me think of how the universe can be 'infinite' by growing without ever actually being infinite. And that the most 'perfect' world, is one which continually makes the right choices, rather than one which simply exists in a static state of perfection.

      And of course everything else you've said is great too. Actually one of the main things we're trying to put across in this video (and in the actual projects Utopian will be starting after we launch this), is the power of humans to CHOOSE (Like Kaley pointed out), and thus change their lives and their world. So yeah, I'm really excited to see other people feeling the same things are important as those which I thought were really fundamental!
      • thumb
        Dec 6 2011: Thanks for your appreciation, i really feel its a great project you are working on and looking forward to its completion, All the best man!
  • thumb
    Nov 21 2011: I gets me a lot lately and the more I think about it the more it seems to natural to act like that .
    Well if I could tell anyone how to live their lives in order to fulfill it to the full capacity I would say " Live your life as a crazy one" .

    If you're asking why ? Well .. Like I said it gets to me a lot lately , the apple commercial that says "Those who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do", and I really believe that somewhere this is the way.

    If you're brave enough , step up ! be different ! think different ! stand up for what you believe in and never give up or give in to the opinion that most people think of.

  • Nov 20 2011: Like your comment.... Diversity is what the world and your very existence is all about. It is only when you expand your horison do you realise that perceptions evolve all the time, with no absolutes.
  • Nov 20 2011: Find your passion. The rest will come.
  • thumb
    Nov 19 2011: Every difference that can be made to the world starts with a dream,never stop dreaming and imagining!
  • thumb
    Dec 19 2011: Hi all, I would like to greet you first. I have just registered to this site. My profile is not filled in yet. I will in a few days.
    But I am lucky to join you here, as the topic touches very essential aspect of human happiness, dignity and human progress in general – attainment of dreams. Having said so, I just want to briefly add some new and important, as I believe, insight. It’s the role of God’s blessing for our success in life. Just a hint: if something went wrong somewhere in your life, no matter how deep you failed, remember, the God is watching us – as I believe, and if you have “credentials” in heaven and if your dream deserves his blessing, - he will help you to attain it by all means.
    Thanks and good luck in your endeavors.
  • Dec 19 2011: You can only go as far as you dream.
  • thumb
    Dec 19 2011: Alright everyone!

    This conversation has reached the maximum duration I'm allowed to keep it open. So unless I create a Part 2, I think I'll just have to let it close here :(

    I've received so many great responses, and gotten to exchange thoughts and feelings with generous, thoughtful people who clearly don't accept that the way things are, is the only way things can be.

    I'm so glad I started this conversation, even more because of all the wonderful and positive beliefs and perspectives I got to hear from people, than for the statements that I was seeking.

    I'll let all of you know via your TED profiles when we launch our video announcing Utopian, and hopefully most of you will find your statements in our video :)

    I'm really happy that our first message about the power of people, was the result of people who came forward of their own accord to share their beliefs and their hopes for positive change.

    Thank you all dearly.