Too many times we have a desire to have something in life, or we want to accomplish something in life, yet we do not keep our eyes on the prize. We tend to look back and wonder what would happen if we retreated back to the land of security and comfort. The question here is, “How does one define comfort?” And, “How does one define security?” When we look back, could we really be looking at false comfort and a false sense of security?
When I decided to be a football coach, I wanted to be a head football coach as soon as possible. So, from the day I entered the profession – all I thought about, talked about, and put action toward was to be a head football coach. When I would come across a head coaching job opening, I would immediately call the superintendent of the school and tell him I was the man for the job. I would send a resume, and sometimes even drive to his town, go to his office, and try to meet with him for just 10 minutes to sell myself. It is probably no coincidence I got my first head-coaching job after my second interview. I told my wife that I was blown away I didn’t get the job at the first school I interviewed with. I was sure to clearly articulate what I wanted, where I was going in life, and how I was going to get there with my interviewers. In my first year as head coach, one of the school board member’s sons was on our team. His dad was a very high ranking individual in one of the largest financial services companies in the United States, highly connected in the social circles of the Dallas “elite.” He told his son, my interview was the most impressive interview he had ever seen anywhere, and he told the rest of the board members, “We better hire this guy right now!”
Over the next year, I worked well over 350 days of the 365 day calendar in pursuing excellence in my new endeavor. I had to create an atmosphere for change. Our athletes did not have a dignified, well-equipped weight room. Our football players did not have a field house or locker room. They had to dress in the grungy, outdated gymnasium basketball locker room. I had to create a weight room in two portable buildings. I had to put in a practice field and irrigation system, and so much more. In the meantime, I had the task of trying to get a bunch of kids who had no concept of belief or winning to start believing in themselves. It was a monumental task and there were people on our school board and in our administration who did not want to be a part of this progress. They fought me from the day that I arrived; they wanted me to shrink back in to mediocrity.
I am sharing this with you because there is a point and time in your life that you have to decide where you are going, what you are going to do about it, and how you are going to go about doing it. And when you decide this, you cannot look back! You must forge ahead and fulfill your mission. If you deeply believe in something, you must capture this attitude to back up your actions. Otherwise, you will cower at the first sign of danger. You will give up when the first round of obstacles come your direction. Tom Landry once said, “Life is not lived in a vacuum. There will always be resistant forces coming against you.” It’s easy to retreat; retreat happens when we fear what lies ahead and when we don’t believe enough in what we are trying to obtain on the other side of the resistance.
In the case of my coaching career, I retreated. I grew extremely weary of the challenges that were in front of me daily. Looking back, I could have continued to fight through those challenges for the sake of my vision and what I wanted to do to build a championship program for those kids; however, my own family was suffering. My wife and two sons rarely saw me, along with the fact that we were scraping to make ends meet. My priorities were out of line. Faith should come first and family second. Your current profession – third. Since I had no faith at the time and my profession ranked higher than family on my priority list, this endeavor became “not worth it” in my eyes. Therefore, my goal in life shifted to finding a financial vehicle that would get us out of debt and allow me to provide for my wife and boys.
When my wife and I started to build our own business, we only had a small amount of money in our bank account. We had no credit cards, no credit, and no one we could borrow money from. We saw what our future could look like through the stories of those who had come before us. We imagined a similar or even greater outcome than those who had experienced great success in that particular industry. We knew that it had been done before; therefore, we believed that we could accomplish the same thing. So… just like I lived my life as a coach, I began to live my life in the world of business. My wife and I decided where we were going to go in our new business venture. We decided what we were willing to do in order to achieve the results we wanted, and we clearly defined how we were going to accomplish the goal. We did not look back. We had plenty of opportunities, daily, to retreat. One particular story that I will share occurred in our first 90 days of embarking upon our new journey. I had decided to quit my job as an athletic director/head football coach at my local high school because I felt that I was not giving my athletes 100% of my heart and focus. My heart was now burning for this new business we had embarked upon and we were seeing people’s lives impacted greatly with the products we were introducing to them. We wanted the whole world to experience what we were experiencing with our fantastic products. We decided to move to Austin, TX from DFW and house hunting became a primary focus. We moved from our north Dallas home because the school district I had just resigned from owned the house we leased. In the meantime, we went on the search for a rent house in the Austin area. We quickly learned how difficult our quest was going to be. Diane and I had been in full time jobs with salary, but now were in a whole different class of “self employed” workers with new stipulations. When you’re self-employed, one must have a two year track record of substantial income to have the merit to be able to lease or purchase a home. Since we were in bankruptcy, had no credit, and had only recently become self employed – we could not find anyone to lease an apartment or home to us. Diane’s parents took care of our two sons for three weeks while we drove around Austin filling out applications and (basically) begging for an opportunity to show ourselves worthy of leasing someone’s “dump” of a place to live. If you have ever been married, then you know the tension that exists when a husband puts his wife in a situation where she feels like she has no place to “nest” and she has little or no security. I had to consistently tell Diane, as she was fighting back tears and emotional turmoil, that everything was going to be okay. I had to daily tell her that life would look different in the next year. I had to tell her that she would never worry about having a nice home and she would never have to worry about not having the money to buy nice furniture ever again. I told her that she just needed to hang on and trust me. I was going to make sure that we succeeded. I faced the same uncertainties. I faced the same fears; however, the promise of the future was more powerful than the obstacles in our way. I had already “burned the boats” behind us. There was no turning back for me. I just had to continue to articulate our vision to every person in whom we did business with. I had to be passionate and confident about the product that I sold and it’s value to others. I had to stay focused on what I was doing and stay focused on how we were going to get it done.
During this time in our life, distractions were not an option. I could not afford to waste time messing with anything that was not going to pay me or steal from productivity in our business. Television was not paying me, nor was it producing customers for me. Fishing was not paying me, nor producing business for me. And the list goes on. Most Americans are so distracted by meaningless social media, television, entertainment, sports, and various hobbies that they have every excuse in the book as to why they can’t succeed in their current endeavor. Everybody has dreams, it seems like, but few have the tenacity to eliminate distractions and forge ahead to obtain their goal.
I have found that it won’t always be a particular book that you read that causes you to become successful in your endeavors. Books are great supplements to help us grow and transform the way we think and act. I believe that the “light bulb” that comes on for someone that causes them to finally decide to take action on their dreams stems more from atmosphere than simply reading. Sometimes it takes getting in a room that has an atmosphere for change, and then it takes listening to someone who has fought through what you may have to fight through in order to reach your goals with your business or endeavor.
Although there seems to be no perfect formula, there are some foundational principles that apply to the concept of radical change and the pursuit of your dreams. The first is the act of making a decision. There will be a day when you have to decide what it is you are going to pursue. Secondly, it requires massive action. Massive action follows any decision to chase a big dream. You cannot test the waters with a big dream. You have to formulate a plan for massive action; if you don’t, something else will fill the vacuum and resist you. And finally, as Andy Andrews would say, “You must persist without exception.” Dreamers who become achievers do not look back. They learn to clearly articulate where they are going. They don’t make excuses for lack of resources, people, appointments, open doors, or avenues that have yet to come their way. They push forward, get creative, hustle, and they believe that massive action will get them through the necessary resistance between them and their goal.