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In his Oscar acceptance speech for his role in The Gladiator, Russell Crowe famously said, “…dreams like this seemed vaguely ludicrous and completely unattainable. For anybody who’s on the downside of advantage and relying purely on courage – it’s possible.” It is true that most of us won’t win an Academy Award. We are each one nonetheless capable of stretching towards a destination that seems impossibly out of reach. Somewhere between where you are today and your impossible dream lies a journey filled with incredible lessons and stories worth sharing around the firepit.
In the quest to achieve your ambition, I offer you a few nuggets to keep, use, or toss along the way.
Failure is Inevitable
You will fail. Not completely – failure is only complete when you decide it is. From a quiver full of arrows, only some will hit the mark. The rest could be called failures, but I prefer to think of them as practice shots.
Set your Big-Hairy-Audacious-Goal. Then set some more – realistic near-term goals. If your goal is to win that Oscar, you can’t get there without attainable, actionable goals. I wrote about this topic ten years ago in this series. Even Russell Crowe had to start somewhere. Take an acting workshop or class. Volunteer at your community theater. In the world of multifamily, that could mean signing up for classes wherever you can find them – Internal L&D departments, LinkedIn Learning, or in any of the countless free webinars made widely available by vendors across the industry.
Get Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable
Embrace nervous anxiety. Lean in to it. Greatness was never found hiding in the blanketed cocoon of comfort. Willingly put yourself into uncomfortable situations. Reach out to someone you don’t know to ask for a call or video chat to talk about your project. You may be surprised by how often people who have achieved success are willing to share their time and stories with others on the way up.
Be True to You
Be accountable – to yourself and to someone else. There is a reason people hire personal trainers or life coaches. It’s because those people hold you accountable to your commitments. It’s incredibly hard to duck out of a 6 am workout if you know your trainer got up early to meet you at the gym. Accountability is key.
Repetition Builds Muscle Memory
Put in the reps. It can feel boring or pointless at times but in every endeavor, practice the reps that build up your skill, strength, and confidence. Arnold Schwarzenegger was a teenager when he started lifting weights and learned the fundamentals of completing and marking the reps. From Mr. Universe to Governor of California, the practice of repetition served him well.
Measure and acknowledge your progress. It feels like fuel in your tank to have reached even the incremental markers of progress towards your bigger goal. Dave Ramsey has a debt snowball philosophy that helps people get out of credit card debt that involves paying off the smallest balance first. It feels good and it frees up cash to put towards the other debt. Celebrate your progress. Tell the world. Share it on your stories. It’s powerful stuff.
Celebrate the Win
When you achieve your big goal – take it in. Breathe the moment of accomplishment. Then – set your next goal even as you turn around and help someone else who is just getting started on theirs. For every person who heard you out, cheered you on, and celebrated the markers with you, pay it forward.
Congratulations – you’ve reached the upside.
Over the last several decades, Sesame Street laid the foundation on many topics for children and their grown-ups. The song “Who Are the People in Your Neighborhood?” is catchy enough that many parents probably know the words to the chorus off the top of their heads. It reminds us that the people in our neighborhood – the grocer, the doctor, fireman, postman, etc. – are the people we meet each day. But how often do we make an effort to greet and get to know those people in the background of our daily lives?
My morning routine is predictable and includes time for hydration, reflection, prayer, journaling, and exercise. I am a runner. Before covid, I ran on the treadmill at the gym. Now, I run around my neighborhood. I begin my run in the pre-dawn hours, so dark I can’t see the sidewalk beneath my feet. I greet the sunrise most days while putting in the reps that sharpen my focus and keep me feeling healthy and sane.
During my daily run, I noticed a man walking around our neighborhood 3-4 times a week, purposely, diligently, step by step, working his exercise plan. I took note of his features and saw that he carries with him a small bat tucked into the palm of his hand and ending at his elbow , and he wears a reflective vest, the kind that can be seen from far away in the headlight of any vehicle passing by at that time of day. I wondered if he carried the bat for personal protection.
Whenever I saw him, I lifted my hand in a small wave of acknowledgment. It buoyed my spirits to see him , and over time, my small gesture turned into a more significant two-handed wave. As I ran past him from behind, I called out, “On your left!” not wanting to startle him and hoping he heard my voice over whatever played on his earbuds. In my mind, I wrote a story about who he was and wondered if maybe we had more in common than a shared appreciation for exercise and greeting the daybreak.
Today, it was on my heart to introduce myself, and so I did. I said that I look forward to seeing him every day when I run. He asked me how many miles I run and told him, then he shared that he walks to work out his frustrations and to keep stress at bay. I told him how inspired I am by his dedication. We chatted a little longer and then went our separate ways.
Today, I met Ken!
I am thankful that I did. No longer a nameless stranger, Ken became more real to me today. Our interaction was just a few minutes long, but it was enough to turn two strangers into something a little bit more.
As we go about our daily lives, there are countless opportunities to engage with people more genuinely. I encourage you to go out and meet your Ken today.
Share your stories with us in the comments below!