Real Life La La Land II: To Those who Wants to Dream

Real Life La La Land II: To Those who Wants to Dream

The first part of what I learnt from La La Land can be found here.

If you have watched the movie La La Land, then you must have been familiar with Mia and Sebastian. Mia, being an aspiring actress, and Sebastian, being a jazz musician with no clear prospect, depict common themes happening in our life, especially to those in their quarter-life crisis, aged between 20 and 30.

This second part is dedicated to those of us who might have dreams somewhere in our years of living, but — just as flame flickers and die without being fuelled — have let their dreams burnt into nothingness, or at least into ashes.

But, who might the dreamers be?

  • Ones who know how they measure their life
  • Ones who dare trying and failing

Ones who know how they measure their life?

In his book How Will You Measure Your Life?, Clayton M. Christensen emphasized that when we find ourselves stuck in unhappy careers or unhappy lives — just like the broke Jazz musician Sebastian stuck in his new high-end gig — it is often the result of a fundamental misunderstanding of what really motivates us.

In my post 7 thoughts worthy of being pursued in 2017, one topic that has come by my touched the topic of how creating an eulogy for our future self is a good way to align our resolutions in 2017 to our long-term goals. However, how do we know it — the things that make us tick?

A quick check that we can do: ask ourselves whether we are motivated by external or internal factors. While Jensen and Meckling, with their incentive theory, say that we can pay people to want what we want — over and over again, while Frederick Herzberg, with his two-factor theory, differentiate between hygiene and motivation factors. While Jensen and Meckling’s might work in some settings, true motivations doesn’t necessarily stem out of external motivators — in this case: incentives.

So, do your exercise and know what motivate(s) you.

Without work, all life goes rotten, but when work is soulless, life stifles and dies. — Albert Camus

Ones who dare trying and failing?

And even when the answer’s “no”
Or when my money’s running low
The dusty mic and neon glow
Are all I need…
… Climb these hills
I’m reaching for the heights
And chasing all the lights that shine
And when they let you down
You’ll get up off the ground
’Cause morning rolls around
And it’s another day of sun

— Another Day of Sun, La La Land

How many of us are worthy of this song Another Day of Sun performed in La La Land: of having nothing more than essential pieces needed for living and of getting back up every time we are being turned down?

I am skeptical, but let’s say most of us dares trying and failing. Instead of following the “proven” conventional path of living (study, get an internship, then a steady job and promotions, and so on) with hope that this track is bullet-proof, we realize that success comes at a price, and only for those who dares pursuing their dreams relentlessly.

In the movie, Mia broke her heart many times in numerous unsuccessful auditions — despite those being auditions that are organized by people who pay no respect to talents, just like those organizations where the ill-mannered ass-kissers are promoted over those with genuine interest for the organizations — and almost dismiss her chance to that final audition that propels her to fame.

But, then, how do we know that we should keep on trying or to stop when it hasn’t worked out for quite some time? 2 years ago, I wrote this short post and argue that: (1) we should know how bad we want it, (2) we should reflect, (3) we should ask for genuine feedback.

Maybe, the answer is have a bit of madness!

“The only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”—Steve Jobs

Let’s meet on the comment section below!

photo credits: Dreaming —

Real Life La La Land: From Sebastian To The Fools Who Dream(ed)

Real Life La La Land: From Sebastian To The Fools Who Dream(ed)


That’s what I think of the movie La La Land, starred by Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. If you have watched the movie, you’ll see my point. If you haven’t, please do (and then you can start re-reading from “Delusional…”).

Yet, I love it. I love it, mainly, not because of the lovely scene and surreal settings, but because I feel that the story hits home. Just like a soap opera, this musical magnifies our (mostly) ordinary life events to the extreme.

How many of us want to be an actress or a musician? Probably, not all of us aspire to become one, and maybe some of us are even still looking for that thing—the life we know we’ll love till the Death comes. By bringing events to the extreme, the movie nudges us (almost subtly) to see what little aspects of our life we might be ignoring at the moment, ones that drift us farther apart from our thing—our purpose.

When we are to choose the path to walk through, how do we choose? Are we like Sebastian of La La Land—that broke Jazz musician who chose to work, in a gig he doesn’t love, so that he can save up for his dream? While that may seems like a good idea, it has its curse.

As Sebastian began to live his newfound gig—by numbing his feelings—he started to lose his purpose. In real life, it’ll be like a young banker who took his first job, out of economy school, thinking to pay his study debt, who then keep on working in the banks as he’s now accustomed to his current living style. On one occasion, he said, “Maybe this is the best for me. This should happen for a reason.” Well, maybe. Maybe his dream of being involved first hand in social setting was never a real thing to begin with.

Another example, by Clayton M. Christensen in How Will Your Measure Your Life (and also his paid post in Harvard Business Review), is about how Honda entered the bike market in US: after failing to materialise its original plan to fight with the likes of Harley-Davidson, it realised that it might do better by changing its target audience and sold product — its success was enabled because Honda seized the unanticipated opportunity.

Saying yes to the opportunities that emerge before us might be a good thing, as it turned out so for Honda, but—unfortunately, there is always a ‘but’—we should do so remembering:

  • Will this new opportunity bring me closer to my goal? (Honda’s did, for its market share)
  • And, if we drift apart: Why do I dreamt that dream I have in the first place? and Does it still rings true now?

These are hard questions. Sebastian rationalised that his job was what his lover wanted for him, so he passed the blame to his lover. We might be doing so unknowingly, clouded by those external noise and / or our losing our faith in ourselves. When we encounter this, take time to stop and be still.

I’d close with a suggestion—almost an urge—for us to listen to the song: Audition (The Fools who Dream), and take what we can. Dreamers might seem foolish, they might fail and ache, but given the chance to go back to past, they’ll pursue their dream all over again (most possibly with new ways of doing).

Leapt, without looking, and tumbled into the Seine. The water was freezing, she spent a month sneezing. But said she would do it again. Here’s to the ones who dream, foolish as they may seem. Here’s to the hearts that ache, here’s to the mess we make. — Audition (The Fools who Dream), La La Land

—End of Part 1

If this story happens to resonate with you, do share with your friends / colleagues that you think will find this useful. Comments are very much appreciated.

This post is also uploaded on my LinkedIn.

Are You Still Friends With Them, The Ex-Colleagues?


“Does it mean my friends in my current workplace will not be my friends anymore? (Or are we friends to begin with?)

This question has been bugging me for a few weeks, but it’s only now that I could get my hands on it.

My initial hypothesis on this question is that our current colleagues, the ones we interact mostly with, will later be our friends.

Why? Continue reading “Are You Still Friends With Them, The Ex-Colleagues?”