What it Really Takes
Tears. Frustration. Pain. Three words that most would not associate with chasing dreams. When we think about our dreams, our hearts start to race with excitement while words like joy, success and happiness dance through our minds. All too often we focus on the end result and not what it will take to get there. In any other context this would be absurd. Don’t believe me? When was the last time you decided to take a road trip several states away and you did not look at a map or look up directions beforehand? So why is it that when it comes to our dreams we become so lackadaisical in our endeavors. After all, it is in the journey where we discover who we really are and of what we are truly capable.
The honest truth is that many of us expect to dream it to be so. If your life existed in Field of Dreams, maybe “If we [dream] it, they will come”. However, this is not a movie and your life is not a script. Dreams take vision, patience, resilience, humility, and grit. Dreams must start with a plan. And that plan must have some plan Bs and Cs ready at a moment’s notice. Because sure as heck there will be road closures and speed bumps along the way. The more mentally prepared you are to handle these twists and turns, the more capable you will of continually progressing toward your dreams, despite the circumstances around you.
The path untraveled is but a spectacle in our hopeful minds. When we envision our dreams, it’s not just about envisioning what we will feel like when we make it. The power of vision lies in seeing what we will need to do to get to the end result. Your vision envelopes the burning desire for completion of the task at hand. It must be concrete. It must be the code that guides your decisions on a daily basis. This is important because there will be opportunities that arise that challenge your commitment, challenge your desire. And it is how you respond to these opportunities, not just one incident independently, but rather your response to a multitude of opportunities over time, that dictates your success. Keep your vision at the forefront of your mind. Use post-it notes on your mirror, reminders on your phone, and tell others about your vision. The reminders and accountability will help guide you in those moments where your vision is tested and this will urge you to continue on the best path for you and your dreams.
There is no such thing as instantaneous success. Success is the pinnacle event that is the result of days, weeks, years, and at times, a lifetime of efforts. This means that each day you must believe that your words, choices, and actions will lead to something greater. You must trust that your efforts will compound over time, tipping the scales in your favor. All too often we wait for our “big break”. Waiting is not equivalent to being patient. I’ll say that again because it is a critical point for everyone to understand - Waiting is NOT equivalent to being patient. Good things do not come to those who wait. Good things come to those who try and try again, and are patient in reaping the rewards of these efforts. Patience is firmly rooted in faith, not necessarily in a spiritual sense, although it could be. It is rooted in your faith that your efforts are not futile, that the mundane tasks along your journey are necessary and will subsequently inch you closer to your dreams. Don’t wait. Take action today, and be patient for the result. It is true it may take days, weeks, years, and at times a lifetime. But rest assured, that if you do not give up, you will be closer tomorrow than you were today.
Often it is in our fall that we learn what it takes to stand tall. Setbacks are essential for success. Why? Because they teach us about our weaknesses. They allow us an opportunity to fix something that was “cracked”, but masked by compensation. In the realm of athletic dreams, these setbacks can be experienced in the form of stress fractures, illness, coaching changes, or defeat. In a business sense, one may be met with job loss, financial troubles, failed interviews, or loss of autonomy. In any case, it is how we respond to these setbacks that reveals our character and determination to succeed. Being resilient is not just about picking yourself back up when you’ve been knocked down, it’s about picking yourself up to stand taller when you’ve been knocked down. You must take the time to course correct, improve your deficiencies, and learn from your mistakes. If you simply rise back up, you will fall again because doing the same thing over and over yields the same results. With each setback, make a list of your strengths and weaknesses, then go through each weakness one by one and create a plan for how to turn that weakness into a strength. In doing this, the phrase “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” becomes your reality because quite literally you are coming out of a setback with more strengths than you had before.
Humble is the man who knows the undeniable power of asking for help. We have a vision and we have a plan, but we must realize that we need not walk that journey alone. How many times have you stared at a photo and you couldn’t quite put your finger on what was wrong with it, but then a friend walks over and glances at the same photo and in seconds acknowledges what is out of place? Our concentrated vision and passion for our success can blind us to what needs to change in order for us to be successful. We must recognize that we have flaws, weaknesses, compensatory behaviors, and more that are inhibiting us from realizing true success. Once we accept this, we can then work towards bettering ourselves and making ourselves more equipped for the journey ahead. However, there is one thing that is overlooked in that process and that is that we often do not know WHAT needs to change or HOW to better ourselves. This is where asking for help becomes so powerful. Whether from a coach, mentor, parent, friend, or boss, those close to us can offer valuable insight into our imperfections and how to improve upon them. The key is to not just ask the question, but trust in the response. Trust the people from whom you seek answers. Trust that the answers you seek are for the betterment of you as a person. Trust that implementing change can be the spark you need to yield different results, better results.
It takes a special person to carry on when others would expect them to fail.
There may be moments when you’re tested,
Moments when you’re counted out,
They razz you for your “foolish” dreams,
Leaving you with only doubt.
Never forget what got you started,
Or how you’ve defied them all,
Let your passion be felt across the world,
And keep on standing tall.
Unfortunately in this world there are many who will tell you you cannot do something simply because they cannot. You must guard your passion from this negativity because if you let it permeate through your soul, doubt will follow. This doubt pulsing through your body and mind will translate into a disbelief within your conscious and subconscious mind. Negativity breeds negativity. You must have the grit to act against that negativity and the grit to believe in yourself when few do. At the end of the day, it is YOU that knows the work you are putting in; it is YOU that knows the importance of accomplishing your dream; it is YOU that knows what lengths you will go to in order to achieve them. In a bubble it’s easy to have grit. It’s easy to carry on when you are surrounded by support from family and friends who also believe. But, what happens when you take that all away? Will you still stand tall? Will you still be able to push on when no one is there cheering you on? The day rises and falls with you. You are the constant. Your thoughts, your words, your actions. You are the common denominator. Make sure these align on a daily basis. Arm yourself with the tools you need to fend off the negativity. Fight negativity with positivity. Fight doubt with doing. Each day, speak about yourself achieving your goals in the present tense. Make them feel real. Choose an action you can do each and every day that is a small success en route to a greater one. These measurable steps are what you can lean on to give you grit when others think you should just throw in the towel. Grit feeds the grind.
Tears. Frustration. Pain. The path to my dream has been blessed with all. Make no mistake about it, I mean the word blessed. Because without those three things, the joy, success, and happiness I’ve experienced along this journey just wouldn’t be the same. No. I have not yet realized my dream. I have not yet crossed that finish line. But the journey, my journey, has already made it worthwhile. From saddle sores to strained muscles, from mental exhaust to social sacrifices, from loneliness to incomplete workouts, all have prepared me for where I am today. These experiences have provided the framework I will need to achieve my wildest dream. They’ve taught me how to train smarter to avoid injury by using heart rate zones and heart rate recovery. They’ve taught me how to maintain a social life in peak training mode. They’ve taught me gratitude for the knowledge and physical strength I have, but humility for the things I have yet to learn and the strength I have yet to achieve. While I have not yet achieved my dream, every bit of the journey has been worth it because I can confidently say I am a better athlete, coach, and woman that I was when I began.
Find your passion. Uncover your vision. Savor your patience. Be resilient. Lean on humility. Show your grit. Celebrate the journey, earn the success.