All Great Success Starts with a Dream
My favorite stories are those when people had an idea about who they wanted to be when they were young and despite many people telling them that their dream was unrealistic (most of the time it was their parents!), they continued to believe and eventually realized their dreams.
Many of these people were not born with immense talent nor did they have major advantages over others who grew up in the same environment. In fact, in many cases they had huge disadvantages relative to others in a similar situation.
A Dream is Just an Idea
If you think about it, a dream is nothing more than an idea about a future situation or a future "you". All it really is is a desire to be or do something backed up by a choice to make it happen. Jeff Bezos decided to quit his job as a hedge fund manager and start an internet book store.
Mark Zuckerburg decided to make a social network for his fellow classmates at Harvard and once he saw that it was a big hit, he decided to commit himself to the project full time. Abraham Lincoln decided that he was going to be a lawyer, despite having grown up out in the woods in a tiny little cabin far from anywhere.
Lincoln studied by himself by reading books on the law and started practicing on his own. As he got better at it he decided to run for elected office. He did not win a single election until he was elected as the president of the United States at the age of 52!
Lincoln had no reason to believe he could do any of these things except that he knew within himself that he could…and so he did! He didn't need anyone to confirm his beliefs. In fact, he kept running for elected office after numerous friends and colleagues advised against it. But his persistence and perseverance led him to the highest office in the nation.
All Success Begins with a Decision
Before anyone can be successful they have to decide what it is they want to do, and choose to do it with their whole being before they can take any steps on the path to achievement. Before I moved to Vietnam I was depressed and in a place where I hated my job, hated my town, hated myself, and knew that I needed some massive change in order to get out of this funk I was in.
I made the decision to travel. Once I made this decision it's almost like the universe took over and put all of the necessary steps in front of me. I met a Vietnamese teacher in my tiny town with a population of only 7,000 in north Idaho.
A few days later I met someone who had taught English abroad and recommended a site where I could get an English teaching certificate and job placement. As I began to study and prepare for this huge adventure I began to feel more energetic, inspired, and motivated than I had in years.
It was simply the decision to take action that started the virtuous cycle of positive events! After a few months I was ready to go. I quit my job, said goodbye to my family and boarded a plane to Saigon. Once I got there I was on my own in a foreign country with a little money but lots of energy.
I immediately found a better job than my job placement program put me in. I started meeting other foreigners (i.e. expats) that could help show me around, and I found an apartment near my new school. All of this happened within one week!
To make a longer story short, I lived in Vietnam for 5 years, met my wife, built a sports training company and ultimately succeeded on all levels. The genesis of this whole life changing experience was a simple decision to go for it! Stop and think about that for a second.
Dreams Are the Same Whether Large or Small
In many cases it would be easier to wallow in our self pity and think, "My life sucks, and there's nothing I can do about it." It seems so difficult when you're in a rut. But no matter where you're starting from, the simple decision to make a change in a different direction can be a catalyst to change your whole life whether your dream is large or small.
This is why it's usually a good idea to think BIG. While many people will say you're dreams are unrealistic, examples of regular people achieving the seemingly impossible are everywhere once we open our eyes and start looking.
Some of you may have heard of Kyle Maynard, the high school wrestler who was born with no arms or legs. How easy would it have been for him to go through life feeling sorry for himself and being jealous of all the rest of us who were born with all of our limbs?
But Kyle made a decision to not let his "handicap" stop him from living out his dreams. Because of his belief that he could accomplish whatever he wanted, with dedication and extremely hard work, he became one of the best wrestlers in the state of Georgia!
He recently became the first person in history without limbs to climb to the peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro. When asked in an interview how he stays so positive despite his condition, he replied, "I decided that I'm not going to let my situation limit me in any way. I just learn to do everything that a normal person can do in a different way. If I think about how unlucky I am all the time than I wouldn't have the motivation to do anything."
I'm paraphrasing his answer but the point is he simply decided that he wasn't going to let his condition limit him and that became the foundation for his unbelievable achievements. I don't know about you, but I find Kyle's story extremely inspiring.
Psychological Strategy for Success
One of the strategies used by highly successful people is to create an artificial situation in which they imagine circumstances that aren't real in order to train themselves mentally to overcome obstacles.
For example, if I can put myself into a state of mind where I imagine being born with a serious disease or no limbs and then overcoming the immense challenges that are necessary to succeed in life despite these handicaps, my actual life obstacles will seem tiny in comparison.
The best way to do this is to sit in meditation and intensely focus on some scenario, whether it's one of the ones above or any other challenging situation that you want to use. Focus intensely on imagining what your life would be like if you had to live under those circumstances. Really get into it and try to feel how you would feel, and imagine some specific situations that you may find yourself in.
After about 10 to 20 minutes of intense focus stop and then change your focus to your own life. Imagine applying the same energy and will power that you imagined having to use in your simulation to your actual life.
Imagine how much focus Kyle Maynard needed to become the best wrestler in the state despite not having any limbs. Now imagine how successful you could be in your life if you were able to muster that same level of determination and apply it toward accomplishing your goals, whatever they are.
This works! I've used it myself and it is a similar visualization exercise that is used to train professional athletes at the highest levels. They wouldn't spend tens of thousands of dollars on psychologists and visualization coaches if it didn't work.
Go ahead and try this for a couple weeks and see if it doesn't increase your motivation and will to act. Grab life by the horns and whenever you run into an obstacle think of Kyle Maynard, and push on.
You'll be glad you did!
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