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Are you a dreamer…or a wisher?

Growing up in the 1960s my dream was to be an astronaut. The U.S. was focused on putting a man on the moon. “Star Trek” was my favorite TV show. My dream came crashing down when I got sick on the Farris Wheel at our local street fair. Then I got sick on the Jack Rabbit roller coaster at Kennywood in Pittsburgh. Motion sickness and being an astronaut don’t mix.

I watched Jeff Bezos and his Blue Origin flight this week. That had to be quite a ride. Wally Funk is my hero. At 82-years old she has logged almost 20,000 flight hours and even passed astronaut training in the 1960s. That is impressive. She never let go of her dream and seized the opportunity when it came. She was mentally and physically healthy and fit. The late radio host and author Earl Nightingale said, “Success is when preparedness meets opportunity.” When the opportunity came for Wally Funk to fulfill her 60-year-old dream, she was prepared. We can all learn a lesson from Wally. I would still love to take a trip into space. I wonder if…

Looking back at my “dream” to be an astronaut I realize now it wasn’t a dream at all. It was a wish based on hope with little or no action on my part. I thought about how cool it be flying in space, being weightless and visiting strange new worlds. I never studied in detail what astronaut training was like. I never considered if there were ways I might overcome my motion sickness issues. I just gave up. I had a wish to be an astronaut not a dream.

The difference was apparent a couple of years later. In eighth grade I was introduced to engineering. This time it was different. I began reading about engineering and the different types of engineers. I learned about the work an engineer does. I liked what I saw and made the decision to become an engineer. Once the decision was made, preparation began. In high school I took high-level science and math classes like advanced physics and calculus to prepare for college.

Preparation paid off but there were still challenges. College calculus went well. On my first college physics test I scored 59 out of 100, then 69 on the second. If I didn’t finish with an average of 70, I would have to retake the course putting me a year behind. We didn’t have funds for a 5th year of college. My dream was at risk. Quitting like I did with the astronaut wish wasn’t an option. After a lot of study something clicked for me. The next two tests were a 93 and a 95. I finished my degree in 4 years and went on to a successful engineering career. The difference between a dream and a wish is the willingness to prepare, to do whatever is necessary and not give up when things get tough.

Hope in the future is important. Without hope we might not have the courage to dream. Hope is not a plan. It takes more than hope to achieve a dream. It takes a vision of what we want to accomplish followed by preparation, work and perseverance. As a high school coach in 1999 when our captain said, “Coach, we want to play for the State Title.” Everything changed when the entire team bought into the dream. They practiced harder. They believed they could win every game even if sometimes they failed. They overcame more adversity than I have room to tell you about. They fought from behind twice in the State semi-final against the #2 ranked team in the state to finally win in overtime and achieve their dream. Those young men gave me the ability to dream again. Because of one young man’s dream our team broke a barrier. Subsequent teams knew what was possible and continued to dream high, leading to 16 regional and 5 state championships.

A dream is powerful. Americans are masters at dreaming and making dreams come true. Our country was built by dreamers not wishers. Disneyland and Disney World grew from Walt Disney’s dream to have a place where he and his young daughters could have fun together. Walt Disney said, “If you can dream it you can do it.” I bet Jeff Bezos and Wally Funk agree.

When the U.S. space shuttle program shutdown in 2011 the United States had to rely on Russia to ferry U.S. astronauts to the international space station. Today three U.S. companies have put humans in space in 2020 and 2021, all led by dreamers:

* Blue Origin led by Jeff Bezos had its first manned flight this week.

* SpaceX led by Elon Musk is currently taking crews to the international space station at 1/3 of the cost of the space shuttle.

* Virgin Galactic led by Richard Branson. Had their its first crewed launch in May 2021. Richard flew on the July 11 flight. His message from space was, “If we can do this, just imagine what you can do.”

These are incredible accomplishments. More important we have three companies that developed vaccines for COVID in less than a year! We don’t hear much about their leadership, but they certainly had a dream and were able to achieve it, saving thousands of lives.

Shale Crescent USA has a dream to bring high wage jobs back to this region. The vision has consumed us. We planned, are doing the work and have persevered through challenges. The job creation has started. Our soon to be released study will show why we can compete with China and win. We learned how manufacturing in our region will dramatically reduce global emissions. Based on the study, the most important thing American consumers can do to reduce emissions is to buy products made in the U.S. More on this very soon.

Are you a dreamer or a wisher? This week is another reminder, all things are possible.

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Greg Kozera, gkozera@shalecrescentusa.com is the Director of Marketing and Sales for Shale Crescent USA. www.shalecrescentusa.com He is a professional engineer with a Masters in Environmental Engineering with over 40 years’ experience in the energy industry. Greg is a leadership expert, soccer coach, professional speaker, author of four books and numerous published articles.

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