Are you frustrated by the massive gap between where you see yourself now and where you want to be?
Maybe you see yourself one day standing on stage and delivering mind-melting rock ‘n roll to 10,000 screaming fans. Maybe you see yourself sinking a game-winning basket in an NBA playoff series. Whatever your dream, there’s usually a feeling that it could never happen. Well, only a few select players ever make it to the NBA, and for every stage-strutting rocker there are a million dreamers who wish it could be them, so it’s definitely going to take something phenomenal for that dream of yours to become reality.
But here’s the thing – you don’t need to be able to touch your dreams today or tomorrow to keep them alive. Just chip away at the obstacles, inch closer and closer, and before long you will be able to see enough growth to motivate you further and further down your path.
A few years ago, I coached youth basketball, and while we didn’t win any championships, I did see growth in our players. One player in particular struggled to get results, since he was one of the smaller players on the team, and not as physical as many of his opponents, but he learned that committing to incremental change was the key to his development. He was the player who did simple exercises to strengthen his muscles – calf-raises while he brushed his teeth, and push-ups in the morning and at night, every single day.
He was the one player who came out to every open practice – sometimes being the only player to show up – where he would diligently practice lay-ups, alternating right-handed and left-handed layups until he reached one hundred. He would practice free throws and three-point shots, one hundred of each. He learned the plays, paid attention at practice, and ended up as a starter on his high school basketball team.
Did he make it to the NBA? No, because he had a dream that he wanted even more, and he applied the same focus to training for this bigger dream. Instead of practicing lay-ups and free throws, now he spends the same dedication to practicing with a guitar in his hands and a microphone at his lips. He’s not a household name yet, but he has already knocked out some fantastic milestones, including a fantastic debut album which highlights his songwriting and performance skills, increasing respect and visibility on the club scene, and top standing in his college music program – where he still applies a step-by-step approach to his future graduation with a Bachelor of Music degree, and, better yet, a bag full of skills that will propel him toward greater and greater things. Some days he gets discouraged, because the road ahead is still a long one, but he can already look back and recognize the massive progress he has made.
He still likes to play a little basketball, and when he does, he’s still really good at it.
The take-away is this – as long as you keep yourself dedicated to your goal, and make consistent steps in that direction, you will get closer to the goal every day. And when you get discouraged or take a step in the wrong direction, just glance backward to remind yourself of your progress so far, and get back on the path. As the song says, “put one foot in front of the other, and soon you’ll be walking ‘cross the floor” (shout out to anyone who can name the source without relying on Google). Beyond that, be patient and, most of all, enjoy the journey!