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Love: Before & After

Life often takes the form of a two-fold battle:

  1. Learning to love yourself enough to pursue your dreams even when others hate you for it.
  2. Learning to love yourself again after you’ve pursued your dreams, failed to realize them, and lost your pride in the process.

Self-love: Sometimes we need it in order to be our best. Sometimes we need it precisely because we aren’t our best.

Sometimes we need it in order to motivate us to work. Sometimes we need it precisely because motivation doesn’t always work.

Sometimes we need it in order to create new beginnings. Sometimes we need it in order to make peace with our endings.

I’ve never consider myself a hopeless romantic, but there’s at least one thing I’ve always admired about them: They find a way to make love survive even when they can’t keep all their dreams alive.

You should do the same.

Love yourself enough to go after what you want, but don’t stop loving yourself just because you fail to get it.

Before and after your dreams, your life is still worth fighting for.


Don’t let the artists have all the fun

Let us not leave dreaming to the actors, poets, songwriters, and inventors.

We were all free to dream and each in his own way.

As Seth Godin wrote, “We are all artists now.”

Creativity should no longer be seen as a matter of what kind of job we do, but as a matter of being consciously engaged in the day-to-day details of whatever lifestyle we have chosen for ourselves.

Creativity is not what’s waiting at the table, it’s what we bring to the table.

You don’t have to be a singer or a tap dancer to be a person of imagination. You don’t need Hollywood-sized aspirations in order to be a dreamer. You don’t need a million-dollar technology start-up to become the kind of person who does meaningful work. You don’t need a New York Times best-seller just to have something to live for.

No matter who you are, you are surrounded by an indefinite number of elements that provide you with reasons to live and possibilities to explore.

Start with who you already are, where you already live, what you already have, and thrust yourself into life. This is what it means to be a dreamer. This is what it means to be creative. This is what it means to transform life itself into a kind of art.

It doesn’t mean anything until you choose it

“We are our choices.” -Jean-Paul Sartre

We are set apart not by the size of our wanting, but by the intensity of our doing.

“What do I want?” reveals my fantasies but determines nothing.

“What am I willing to pay?” reveals my character and determines everything.

A man’s life equals what he actually chooses to create. Beyond that, there is nothing else.

Without focused action, a life and its dreams are condemned to the status of an aimlessly wandering ghost with neither a voice to tell its story nor a body with which to make its presence felt.


A recipe for unfulfilled dreams

Wait until you get discovered.

Stand pat until someone presents you with an opportunity.

Sit on the fence until ideal conditions manifest.

Warm up in the bullpen until you’re summoned.

Put your plans in neutral until financial resources come pouring in.

Don’t poke and prod; react and respond.

Always ask for permission.

Make sure you feel “worthy” before engaging in new activities.

Get answers to all of your questions prior to any creative risk-taking.

Your dream is a franchise: keep building no matter what!

Steve “Franchise” Francis grew up in abject poverty.

Raised by a single-mom, he grew up living in a 3-bedroom apartment shared with 14 people.

His passion, and natural talent, for basketball was thwarted by his inability to keep up his grades in High-School.

He was declared academically ineligible for his Freshman year and was kicked off the team during his Sophomore year.

During that same time, his mother, who had been living with a hernia for 10 years, died of health complications at the age of 39.

Francis fell into a deep depression and, as a result, would never play a game of basketball for his entire High-School career.

After being in a two-year emotional funk, while still battling the daily pressures of poverty and inner city life, Francis decided to use the death of his mother as motivation. He chose to see the tragedy as a lesson on the preciousness of life and, according to the words of a close friend, decided to use “the knowledge to go forward with his dreams.”

Unfortunately for Francis, he had no High-School basketball experience and, in spite of his skill and dedication to practice, he lacked the exposure necessary to get into a national college basketball program.

After attending two different junior colleges in a two-year period, Francis transferred to the University of Maryland where he finally got his shot to perform on a big stage.

He didn’t disappoint.

The Maryland Terrapins finished second in the ACC and Francis was named to the All-ACC first team and the All ACC Tournament team. The Terrapins were a number 2 seed in the NCAA tournament but were defeated by St. John’s in the Sweet 16. Under Francis’ leadership, Maryland finished with a school record-setting 28 wins and only 6 losses and were ranked #5 in the final Associated Press poll (wikipedia).

After playing college ball for one year, Francis was selected as the #2 overall pick in the 1999 NBA Draft.

In spite of experiencing every excuse for NOT achieving his dream, Francis found a way to get into the NBA.

You can watch his story, Beyond the glory Steve Francis, for yourself here.

Enough about Francis.

Let’s talk about you.

What are your problems? What are your legitimate excuses? What are the odds you’re working against?

Don’t ignore them. Don’t pretend as if they’re illusory.

Acknowledge them. Write them down. Take a cold hard look at them.

After you’ve done that, ask yourself the following:

Will I let this list of dream defeaters define my destiny or will I choose to regard them as opportunities to gain the knowledge to go forward with my dreams?

Your call.

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