The Blog

From Childhood Dreams to the International Space Station: An Interview With Guy Laliberte, Founder of Cirque du Soleil

Children seem to know things that as adults, we seem to forget. They play together, dream big, laugh, hug and enjoy life wholeheartedly, living each moment fully, not knowing the meaning of worry or stress.
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

Children seem to know things that as adults, we seem to forget. They play together, dream big, laugh, hug and enjoy life wholeheartedly, living each moment fully, not knowing the meaning of worry or stress.

Kids base their choices on fun and do what they enjoy most. If they love baseball or singing, they do it even if they're not the best, simply for the love of doing it. They follow their passion and their hearts rather than their heads and don't worry what other children think.

You won't see a 5-year old stressing over who will be at the playground tomorrow or if they'll get the blue crayon in art class- they just go with the flow of life because they don't know any better. We can learn a lot from simply watching how children enjoy just being alive!

When we're young, we dream big dreams and can describe a future for ourselves filled with wonder. We can see the details and the color of the car we'll drive, the size of our future home and have no problem visualizing ourselves as a doctor, a lawyer, an entrepreneur or whatever. As children, we can see it because we still believe in our dreams. Everything is still possible.

And then we grow up. As we mature and fit into society, we push aside the dreams of our childhood and cloak ourselves with the onerous mask of responsibility. We're taught there is a time when we have to grow up and get serious. The cost is usually paid for by the death of our dreams.

Today's Inspirational Luminary, Guy Laliberte, never grew up and found a way to integrate his childhood dreams, his love of art and entertainment, into his life's work. As founder of Cirque du Soleil, has brought a smile to our face, challenged our perceptions and has shared his talent with us. Through his artful entertainment we've been able to capture a glimpse of the man behind the curtain.

Aside from the obvious business reasons to respect and admire this man, what touches me most is his genuine spirit and pureness of heart. Making the world a better place isn't a tag line for Guy, but rather, it's the mission of his life. Love is a large part of the foundation on which he's built his life and it shows not only in his work but also in his philanthropic contribution to the world.

Guy gives back the same way he lives his life- the only way he knows how to- in a BIG way. Through his beliefs, his desire to make a difference, his ability, and even his dreams- playing big is an integral part of Guy's life, passion and purpose.

I spoke with Guy from the cosmonaut training facility in Star City, Russia, as he was in training for his mission to the International Space Station, departing September 30th, 2009.

His expedition to space is primarily to raise awareness for his non-profit foundation,, and spread ONE DROP's dream of "Water for all, all for water". By raising awareness, educating others and the construction of tangible projects, Guy's personal mission is to bring clean water to the world. And if anyone can be successful with a project of this scope, Guy's the man for the job. After all, there aren't many dreams bigger than space.

From listening to the 'fairy tales' his parents shared with him when he was young, Guy found a way to believe. Instead of focusing on the excuses and reasons why something wouldn't work, he focused on his dream and set out to make a difference.

What made this work for him? Was it just not accepting "No"? Was it not giving up? Was it holding fast to his childhood dream inside regardless of what showed up on the exterior? Was it evaluating the options and risks and just not being afraid? Was it being young and crazy enough and having nothing to lose? Most importantly, if it worked for him, will believing in our childhood dreams work for us?

As Guy enters quarantine to prepare for his 9/30/09 blast off to the Space Station, he leaves us with these words.

"Along the way, let's never forget that once we were children and that we were all playing together, without distinction of skin color, society level, or where people come from. Adults need to remember to play, and to be more childlike in our behavior. We've forgotten what that childlike experience was like. Me? I'm going to grow backwards and be a kid again."

So tonight as you tuck your children into bed, hug them extra tight and celebrate and learn from the fact that they still believe in their dreams. Teach them to be grateful for the glass of fresh, clean water by their bed. Then look at the stars and make sure they know that our fairy tales and dreams do come true, if only we believe.