The content of this month’s newsletter is harvested from a diverse crop of inspiration; a keynote speaker, two recent college grads, and one great tag line.
I attended an industry event last month, and “Go before you’re ready” … was on a slide in the keynote presentation by USAF, Lt. Colonel Dan Rooney. Dan Rooney, call sign, “Noonan”, is a USAF fighter pilot, a golf pro, a man of devout faith, a dedicated patriot & philanthropist, and the founder of Folds of Honor. Folds of Honor is a foundation that gives scholarships to the children of fallen and disabled veterans and first responders.
While I picked up lots useful and thought-provoking content, being the parent of two recent college graduates, and a mentor to a handful of young work associates, “Go before you’re ready”, struck a chord that still resonates a month later. The soul of the Lt. Colonel’s presentation was about chasing dreams, how we can help people chase their dreams, and the importance of not waiting. He spoke about living a full life, finding purpose for yourself and for others, and chasing that purpose, those dreams, and that fulfillment. The message is one that I truly believe applies to anyone who is starting their career, thinking about changing careers, or even for someone looking to make any kind of positive change in their life.
The message I hope to convey to my children, my mentees, and all of you who took the time to read this newsletter, is that I truly believe our vocational and personal possibilities are practically endless. As fluffy and perhaps naïve as it may sound, you need to believe that in today’s world, you can be anything you want to be.
The key word in that last sentence is want. It’s not easy to be anything you want to be. It’s actually pretty difficult. Because we live in a world where anything is possible, sometimes the most difficult part is figuring out the what.
- What is your potential?
- What are you good at?
- What do you want to be good at?
- What do you love to do?
- What is your dream?
- What is stopping you?
When you figure out what your dream is, what your want is, you start to get clarity on how you’re going to chase it and achieve it. When that want becomes stronger than your discomfort, you figure out the how. It’s important to understand that there will be some discomfort along the way. In most cases, if the personal journey were easy, the destination is probably not going to be that great. It takes courage, it takes patience, it takes belief, and it takes a little bit of caution… but just a little!! Another great line from Dan Rooney’s presentation is, “Courage and comfort can almost never co-exist”.
Allow yourself the freedom to change your mind, but don’t change your mind, or give up because it’s too hard. When Gina Davis’ character (A League of Their Own) wanted to leave the team, because things were becoming “too hard”, Tom Hanks’ character says, “Yeah, it is hard. But it’s the hard that makes it good.”
Chasing dreams, fulfilling passions, reaching your best potential, would not be nearly as fulfilling if it was easy. The only awesome thing in life that’s easy is a hot fudge sundae… even then, you have to heat the fudge.
Figure out your dream. Discover what you’re passionate about and turn that dream into your reality.
Okay, now let’s say you found that dream, that want … that passion. Is it realistic? Not to the rest of the world, is it realistic to you? The check list is short:
- Is it your dream?
- Is it someone else’s dream for you?
- If it’s someone else’s, does it come from a place of love, support and caring? If so, does that dream fit?
- Do you believe it makes you better, happier, fulfilled?
If the dream fits, chart your course!! Better put, chart your own course! Don’t let anyone tell you what you can’t do, but it never hurts to listen to the advice and counsel from people who you trust have your best interests at heart. This is where great mentors come in.
It’s important to realize that there will be doubters and naysayers along the way, even from family and friends. It’s sometimes just human nature to ridicule or try to downplay someone trying to improve their situation. Maybe they’re jealous, maybe they’re afraid of being passed up, or left behind… maybe they just don’t understand. When you are chasing YOUR dream, you must find a way to block that out. It’s important to consider any advice that comes from a positive place, and to weed out the junk. You owe it to yourself to chase the dream, you owe it to the people who believe in you to chase it as well. You owe the naysayers nothing.
There is a great quote by James Baldwin: “Those who say it can’t be done are usually interrupted by those who are doing it.”
When I started writing my blog page, ‘The Large Man Chronicles’, a lot of people asked why I thought I could do something like that. It was as if I didn’t have the right to write! (See what I did there?) My only answer was that it was just something I wanted to do. I travel a lot, I see funny, beautiful, and interesting things along the way, and I thought people would enjoy reading about it. I believed I had stories to tell. I believed I had something to say about the human condition, and I believed that I would find an audience of readers who could relate… and so I did. My want to tell a story, and to explore my creative side, was greater than the discomfort that came with the criticism I received. Maybe I wasn’t ready to be a good writer, but I wanted to tell stories, so I wrote them anyway.
If you are chasing a dream, reaching for the stars, trying to reach your full potential, and you wait until everything is just right; the right time, the right place, the perfect financial situation, you’re likely to spend the whole journey just waiting. Please, don’t do that! Very rarely do the stars perfectly align.
“Go before you’re ready” doesn’t apply to skydiving, but it fits your personal and professional goals and dreams like a tailor-made suit. Of course, you need to be responsible, you need to own your stumbles and mistakes, but go before you are ready!
Ask a mentor:
There are stories told every single day about amazing people who chased a dream and accomplish remarkable and awesome things against incredible odds. Make one of those stories about you.
Share your story with your mentor:
What are your goals, dreams and aspirations?
Talk about your strengths and how your vision might be a potential benefit to the organization.
Share any fears or obstacles that are holding you back.
Ask your mentor about their experiences:
What are/were your dreams?
Did you see them through?
Can you tell me about the journey?
What roadblocks did you encounter?