Are Dreams Really Worth Pursuing?

There are certain moments in our lives that define who we are as individuals.  They are generally moments where ever ounce of our strength, courage and willingness to succeed is pushed to its limits.  I always find it interesting to reflect on these moments.

For a few years of my life I worked a full-time job basically to support traveling all over the place to make it as a professional soccer player.  Nothing else really mattered to me except pursuing that dream.  The dream to step out onto the field in front of thousands of people to play the game I loved.  But this wasn’t an easy road to travel.

I experienced moments that nearly broke me.  Moments where I felt so low that I didn’t think I could possibly go on.  Moments that broke my heart and broke my spirit.  Moments that tested ever last ounce of will-power I had within me.  Moments that, to this day, still give me the chills when I relive how I felt during them.  And I often wonder why I did it for so long.  Why did I continue to put forth a tireless amount of time, effort and commitment just to repeatedly come up short?

Now that some years have passed I can look back on it with a clearer perspective.  I didn’t come up short at all.  Yes, there were some sacrifices.  But I realize now that all of the things that I did during those 2-3 years have shaped who I am and where I’m at today.  Even though embarking on that journey didn’t get me what I ultimately set out to get, I did have some of the greatest experiences of my life, learned some really hard, valuable lessons about life and about myself and met some really great people along the way.  The simple act of not being afraid to pursue my dreams changed the entire course of my life… forever.

Through this experience I’ve learned that we don’t always get what we want, but that shouldn’t stop us from trying to live out our dreams and achieve all of our aspirations.  In the end, what do we have to lose?  Even if we don’t achieve what we set out to achieve, chances are the mere act of doing things we are passionate about will lead to something great.

I have also learned that it is often out of fear that we choose not to live the lives we dream.  And that’s a shame.  If fear is such a great motivator then you should be deathly afraid that if you don’t pursue your dreams then you may never become the person you are capable of becoming.

And lastly, and possibly most importantly, it taught me how to believe, even when it felt like there was nothing left to believe in.  A lesson that has come in handy on many other occasions.

The thing about pursuing your dreams is that it’s a lot like being an entrepreneur.  The highs are high and the rewards can be thrilling.  But the lows can break your heart.  That’s why you have to love what you do to such a degree that it’s worth the sacrifice, and, at times, pain.  But you take the good with the bad because doing anything else would be unimaginable.

Happy Wednesday!

(Chad)

Advertisements

Are You Lavish With Praise?

When criticism is minimized and praise emphasized, the good things people do will be reinforced and the poorer things will atrophy for lack of attention.

Praise is probably one of the most fundamental of all human desires.  Whether we admit it or not, we all crave attention and praise in some form or another.  It might not mean that your name is put up in lights for everyone to see, it may be as simple as someone saying, “Hey you did a great job!”, and genuinely meaning it.

Think about how it feels when someone recognizes you for something and offers you genuine praise.  You feel pretty good, right?  And you crave that feeling again, don’t you?  So why don’t you do that in return to others?

We are all leaders.  We all have the ability to spur change to help others achieve success and to live happier, more fulfilled lives.  It’s really not that hard – as long as you take the right approaches.  Whether you’re trying to raise your kids to behave better or trying to help a friend change their negative way of thinking or trying to spark initiative in one of your employees, start by praising the things they do well.  And do it genuinely.  From your heart.  Not only will it make them feel good about themselves, it will make them want to do more of it.  And there is where the change happens.

Might sound a little hokey, but try it.  Start praising your friends, family, significant other and co-workers on things that they do well.  If you can honestly tell me their facial expressions don’t show that your praises made them feel good and their attitudes towards you don’t change and they don’t start exhibiting more of these behaviors in the future, then you can ignore everything I’ve ever said.

If we can inspire all the people we come in contact with to a realization of their capabilities then we can do more than change people.  We can transform them.  Remember, we are all leaders.  And great leaders enable the people around them to do great things.  Start enabling others by giving genuine praise.

Happy Wednesday!

(Chad)

The Joy Of Wrong

In the Pike Place Market in Seattle, you can still find the first Starbucks.  There’s something wrong with it, though.  It’s not quite right, not quite a Starbucks.  The logo is different; the layout is different.

It turns out that the original Starbucks didn’t sell coffee.

They sold coffee beans and tea leaves and even herbs.  But except for a sip or a taste of coffee brewed from a particular bean (drip, no espresso!), there was no cup of coffee to be had.

Starbucks was wrong.  Jerry Baldwin, one of the founders, made a mistake.  He thought the beans were the point, not the coffee.  Left to Jerry’s vision of the future, Starbucks would certainly have failed.  It took Howard Schultz, a trip to Italy, and an obsession with espresso to turn Starbucks into Starbucks.  And Howard gets a lot of credit for making that happen.

But what if the “wrong” Starbucks had never been built?  What if Jerry and his partners had said, “Well, we’re not sure if this bean thing is going to work, so let’s do nothing”?  Without Jerry Baldwin and his flawed idea for a coffee bean store, there’d be no Frappuccino.  One led to the other by the usual route, which is never a straight line.

The original Starship Enterprise was conceived by Matt Jefferies.  It looked like a cross between a Frisbee and a can opener.  Clearly wrong.

But Matt had the drive to deliver.  He took the wrong start and revised and improved and innovated until the Enterprise we know and love came to be.  The hardest part, it seems to me, was the first one, the wrong one.

Poking doesn’t mean right.  It means action.

The above is an excerpt from Poke The Box by Seth Godin.  It raises some very important questions.  Like what happened to creativity?  What happened to initiative?  What happened to the desire to do important work?  What happened to the childhood wonder and adventure we all used to have – where we constantly pushed limits and chartered into unknown territory?  Did we all get old and fall into a world of “safe” and “predictable”?

If you are deliberately trying to create a future that feels safe and predictable, you will willfully ignore the future that is likely.  So don’t be afraid to start something new or take the first step into the unknown and, most importantly, don’t be afraid to fail.  For often out of failure comes our greatest discoveries and our greatest triumphs.

Happy Wednesday!

(Chad)

How Good Are You?

Earlier this week I got my first article published on Business Blogs.  Pretty stoked about it.  Hopefully, there are many more to come.  Due to copyright issues I can’t post the contents of the article on my own site but you can follow the link below to the article.  It’s slightly more “businessy” but definitely still applicable to your life and mindset.

Check it out –> Business Blogs: How Good Are You?

Happy Wednesday!

(Chad)

Are You Willing To Get Your Hands Dirty?

When I sit down to write, I often think to myself that writing is very much like life.

Sometimes you sit down to write and there’s nothing there.  You have no inspiration.  No words flowing from your pen (or keyboard).  And that feeling sucks.  You feel uninspired and empty.  And in the same way, sometimes that’s how life is too.  Your job sucks.  Your relationships suck.  Everything just kind of sucks.  But that’s when you have to find a way to dig deep and focus.  It’s so easy to lose sight of the empowering fact that everyday you get the opportunity to wake up, breathe in the fresh air of possibility and go pursue your dreams.

It’s always “easy” when things are good.  Everyone’s happy.  Everyone’s comfortable.  Not a care in the world.  But that never lasts.  The very nature of life means you will have your ups and downs.  So what happens when things are not good?  Then what do you do?  How do you find the opportunity?  How do you navigate your way through the unknown?

First thing is to not resist, but embrace these uncharted terrains.  These are times where you are forced to be uncomfortable.  It’s when you’re challenged.  It’s when you grow.  It’s when you struggle, fight, scratch and claw your way though the debris to find your way… to the next challenge you will meet head on and overcome.  It’s where all the good stuff happens.  It’s where all the excitement lives.  It’s where leaders are made.  It’s where innovation and success is born.

It doesn’t matter how much crap you think you have to deal with, somebody, somewhere has it worse.  Much, much worse.  So there’s no use in complaining or worrying about how bad you think you have it.  Instead, resolve yourself to have a great mental attitude.  Then, start focusing on what you can learn, what skills you can acquire and how you’re going to overcome your current situation.  And don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty with experience, because the world belongs to those who are willing to get their hands dirty… really, really dirty.

Happy Wednesday!

(Chad)