On Leadership and Cowboys and Snowmen

Cowboys and Snowmen

I’ll confess… what I wanted to be when I was younger is no longer my career aspiration… I wanted to be a cowboy. A real American cowboy!

That may have been a side-affect of watching too many John Wayne movies as a kid.  Although my dream career as a kid was “highly aspirational…” It was far more realistic than the kid down the street from me. He wanted to be a snowman…

Although, growing up in Northern Minnesota, a snowman may have been a quite possible career choice.

On Dreams and Dreaming

The danger of having big dreams, it seems, is that dreams don’t always come true.  Dreams may not portray reality as time unfolds. Consequently, most of us lose the ability to dream big in our careers.

Considering how much time and effort it takes to have a successful career, it is surprising that we stop short of continuing our deep desires and we often stop dreaming big. 

This summer, we took our kids to Disney World.  At the end of a very long day, the park closed with a light show and fireworks display.  During it, the song “When You Wish Upon A Star” was playing, and I was caught by the line,

“When you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are…”

Adult, though as I am, I was left wondering why we stop believing that our wishes can come true.

Keep Dreaming, or Wake Up and Smell the Coffee

To get a handle on your vision of the future, ask yourself these questions:

  • Where do you see yourself in the next few years? 
  • What do you see yourself doing?

These can be difficult questions to answer. But your answers may help determine your current satisfaction and motivation levels, whether positive or negative.

For most employees, the days are gone of putting in a career with one company.  It is estimated that most employees will leave a position after less than 5 years. And in reality, many employees are leaving positions much earlier than that. 

Today’s employees are often expected to be more customizable, uniquely talented and qualified, and dispensable then they once were.

Creating Balance

In this down economy, people may be entrenching in current positions in hopes of waiting it out until the job market turns around. However, employees now are much more likely to evaluate their career choices based on what they want to do, instead of what the company wants from them. 

  • Are you in the position you want to be?
  • Do you want to be with the organization you are with for years to come?
  • How long do you see yourself in your current position/company?

How you answer those questions will likely impact the effort you put in, the relational level you invest, and the attitude and approach you take to your work and the organization’s long-term success.  Take steps now to get where you want to be, whether with your current organization or in a different one.  

You owe it to yourself, your organization, and the future success and happiness of both.  Don’t stop dreaming.

As leaders, what is the importance of being practical?  What dangers are there in dreaming big?  What big dreams do you have for your leadership and your career?  Are you in the right position with the right company for your dreams and their dreams to be accomplished?

Joe Plante is a Doctoral student in Organizational Leadership
He serves in training, leadership, & organizational development
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter

Image Sources: cooldesktopbackgroundsx.com

2 responses to “On Leadership and Cowboys and Snowmen

  1. I wanted to be a pilot like my Dad but he was always in a dangerous place where some people were shooting at YOU! (or in the case of my dreams – ME!). That part was not good but I was too young to think about that back then.

    So now, I have been a consultant in the Information Technology leadership arena for lots of years and I still dream of becoming a company owner where I can help those who are not fully engaged with some fruitful (paying) endeavors but want to be – an incubator of some kind! In the meantime, if someone comes up with a really good CIO position, I will be there to offer my best!




  2. Joe, I too wanted to be a cowboy. So I ended up as troubleshooter perhaps a weak but modern cowboy. Ok, maybe that’s a stretch. This is a very nice post with excellent content and very relevant questions. Thank for the learnings… Doug


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