By the time I reached the Chesapeake Bay Bridge tunnel on my way to Norfolk, Virginia and old Dominion University, I have driven over 800 miles and over 15 hours . All along the way I kept telling my self to dream big; act big; this can be done; and don’t quit on this. Every day I recited the one goal I had in my head: National Champions. I pictured how it would lay out and how I would celebrate over and over again. Never mind that I didn’t know the players; I was simply going by my gut feeling I had about the head coach who hired me. Every day I reminded myself over and over who I would become: a National Champion.
Everyone I knew wanted to know why I would uproot myself and leave everything behind. Why I would move into a tiny furnished apartment in the roughest part of Norfolk. Inevitably every conversation came down to a few questions: Where the heck is ODU? What is ODU? Tell me again why you want to go there after all the hours spent studying, practicing, and building a nice world for yourself as a respected teacher and winning high school basketball coach.
Furthermore, why wouldn’t I want to follow everyone else and get a job working for the State of New York. After all, great benefits, pension, and a good salary. Why move to a place where no one knows you and no one knows who the heck is “ODwho” (as we affectionately called the school)?
It dawned on me one day when I was on a bus trip to Yankee Stadium to see my idol Mickey Mantle play. We were sitting in the nosebleed section of the stadium out in right field and a friend said to me, “Isn’t it amazing that all these guys are doing what they love? They are living their childhood dreams of playing ball.” It hit me at that moment that up until then I was watching life form the nosebleed section of the stadium. Even though I had a good life, it was comfortable and I was watching life from the sidelines. I made a promise to myself to get in the game, dream big, and make every moment count. I wanted to be in the game…the BIG game.
Are you in the game? Are you watching life from the top of the stadium or are you on the field? Are you making most moments count in your life? Do you have a big dream that weighs on your “what if”?
I mean let’s be real here. Life is short. The average life expectancy is between 78-81 years. That’s short…so short. And corporate life? According to a study done by INNOSIGHT/Richard N. Foster/Standard & Poor’s the average corporate job lasts seven years. Seven years! So why wouldn’t you take charge and make every moment count.
Life is about playing full out, all the time with passion, compassion, and enthusiasm. It’s doing what you love and finding the love in what you do. We have to get in game and make this week count.
People will tell you it’s impossible. There will be naysayers in whatever you try to do “full out.” I had my naysayers. When I came back from basketball camp and told everyone what I wanted to do and why I wanted to do it, they all thought I was joking at first. Then insane. “You’re not going to go to an unknown school and win a National Championship,” they said. Well I better because that’s how I got my job. They all said I was crazy, that I was throwing my life away, and that it was impossible.
Possible is just a word people use to justify what they have in life…this is possible my life. Why? Because it’s a whole lot easier to accept what you have in life than to go out, disrupt your balance, and make a difference. It’s just the way we all justify what’s handed to us…our job, our family, our territory, our quota.
Now I’m not telling you to go out and disrupt your territory or quota. I am telling you to get outside what you have right now and dream big. I am telling you to go out and make your life, your way, your design.
Do this for me right now. Hold your hands in front of you about a foot apart. That’s how far you are from doing the impossible. I’ll prove it to you. Now put your hands on either side of your head. How far you are from making impossible possible is between your hands. It’s in your head.
Impossible is only impossible until someone does it for the first time. The light bulb. Flying people up in the air all over the world in a few hours. Landing on the moon and coming back safely. Having 1000 songs and photos in your pocket. Selling a million dollars. All impossible until the first person did it then others followed.
The ODU team I mentioned earlier went 36-4 in their first 40 games. They went on to go to three Final Fours winning two of them. They went to an NIT and won that, and they came within one basket of going to four Final Fours. They set attendance records and were the first team nationally televised. Impossible? Never, but don’t ask the naysayers.
I’ve made a living by taking on tough assignments—as a coach, sales leader, and leadership development executive. Over and over I’ve seen that with the right influence and gratitude, nothing is impossible. What is your dream?
Question: What do you do when people tell you something is impossible? Leave your comment below.