John L. Terry, III - The Black Belt Leader
"What do you want to be when you grow up?"
It's a question you, like me, probably heard many times during your formative years. For me, someone who just celebrated the 30th anniversary of my 29th birthday, I'm still asked that question from time to time. But we likely all answered that right of passage question at least half a dozen times in our lives.
Among the common responses were statements like, "I'm going to be a fireman. I'm going to be a doctor. I'm going to be a nurse or a teacher. I'm going to travel the world. I'm going to be a millionaire. I'm going to open my own business. I'm going to be a movie star. I'm going to be in a famous singer."
As children, we all had BIG dreams, BIG aspirations, and BIG goals for the future. I was going to be an FBI agent or be a Secret Service agent and protect the president. That answer changed a few years later to a doctor, or a lawyer, or both (like my grandpa). Our dreams changed as we discovered new things, new interests, and began to think about what COULD BE in our lives as our future was before us.
But then come the Dream Killers. Those who rob us of our dreams, hopes, and inspirations for the future. They convince us that dreaming BIG, believing the impossible is possible, is a myth, and we need to conform to be just like everyone else. And before you know it, the vivid dreams of what COULD BE are replaced with WHAT IS and we stop pursuing what our heart was really set on achieving.
Over the years, I've met a number of Dream Killers. The parents of children who were intent on seeing their children never achieved their full potential. Comments such as "You're stupid, just like your Daddy (or your Mommie). You'll never amount to anything. I don't know why I'm wasting money on you to take karate classes. You're pathetic. You're always going to be fat, ugly, dumb, or worthless. Why would you ever want to be a ______________?"
Those words rob a child of the opportunity to discover, develop, and deploy the amazing potential that resides within each of us. Dream Killer.
Hungry young minds that are open to dreaming BIG and believing the impossible is possible are subjected to a regular regimen of LIMITED THINKING training by often well-meaning parents and other authority figures. These individuals often pass on their own dashed hopes and dreams to their offspring, programming them with a self-limiting belief system that often chokes out the dreamer within. Rather than being taught to reach for the stars, they are programmed to be content with mediocrity, the status quo.
It's ALWAYS been this way in our family. Nothing is going to change. Why would you think you are going to be different, something more? These conversations happen far too often in homes, crushing the incredible potential that exists in their children.
I've met Dream Killers in the schoolyard. Many cruel, humiliating conversations have taken place on playgrounds and in classrooms for decades (and still do to this day), silently strangling the life out of the dreams and aspirations of others. You've got to look, talk, and act a certain way to "fit in". This leads to a herd-mentality of conformity and status-quo thinking that squelches creativity, and the passion to pursue one's dreams.
Dream Killers are also in the classroom. Teachers who are more focused on teaching you WHAT to think instead of HOW to think. Personal growth and development are not taught, but conformance with generally accepted societal norms is. Critical thinking, independent thinking, out-of-the-box thinking, problem-solving give way to teaching a student how to perform so they can pass a standardized test and be just like everyone else.
We also see Dream Killers in business. Rather than developing the potential of their employees and encourage the creative discussion of "How do we do this better?", I see employers try to enforce job descriptions or mandate a task must always be done in a certain way. Employers seek to manage people and performance rather than lead people in a growth-focused environment where innovation and creativity become the spark that ignites peak performance and profitability.
I have yet to meet a person that does not have the potential to do more, to become more. But I have met far too many people that no longer see that potential within them.
What we need are more Dream Resurrectors today. People who will encourage others to awaken the dormant dreamer within. People who are themselves growing, discovering their own potential, and taking others on a personal growth journey with them. People who will see the potential within others, and help them see what they can't yet see themselves.
We need people to believe in other people. To challenge them to discover, develop, and deploy the creative genius within. To not give up on their BIG dreams and to keep chasing the impossible dream. To help others believe in themselves, and become a better version of themselves, every single day.
And to remind ourselves, and those around us that it is never too late, no one is ever too old, to dream (and to pursue) that impossible dream.
Samuel Jackson didn't get his big break in Hollywood until the age of 43. Stan Lee, the Godfather of Marvel Comics, created The Fantastic Four at age 40. Julia Child released her first cookbook at age 50. Rodney Dangerfield got his big break on the Ed Sullivan show at the age of 46.
Vera Wang wanted to become an Olympic skater only to fail. She kept dreaming and started in the fashion industry at the age of 40. Today, the Vera Wang Collection is among the most respected fashion lines in the industry.
Susan Boyle appeared on Britain's Got Talent in 2009 at the age of 47. Her breathtaking performance stunned Simon Cowell and led to an amazing singing career. Alan Rickman landed his first major movie role in Die Hard with Bruce Willis at the age of 41. Today he's known for his role as Snape in the Harry Potter films.
Henry Ford, the founder of the Ford Motor Company, worked as an engineer for most of his life. He didn't really find success until he released the Model T in 1908 when he was 45 years of age. Laura Ingalls Wilder published her first book, Little House, in 1932, at the age of 65.
Anna Mary Robertson Moses (aka Grandma Moses) started painting at the ripe young age of 78. Her paintings were featured on postage stamps and one of her paintings sold for $1 Million in 2016.
Sam Walton founded Wal-Mart when he was 44. Today, Wal-Mart is the #1 big-box retailer in the world.
Two of my favorite dreamers are Harland (aka Colonel) Sanders and Ray Kroc. Sanders, at the age of 62 franchised his "finger-licking good chicken" and later sold his Kentucky Fried Chicken empire for millions of dollars. Kroc purchased the McDonald's franchise at the age of 52 and grew it to become the world's largest fast-food chain.
One last individual I'll mention, Momofuku Ando. An obscure name, I'm sure. You may not know his name, but if you've ever lived in a college dorm, or started out on your own in a small apartment, you know his invention. At the age of 50, Ando invented instant ramen noodles.
Why did they succeed when so many others failed? They refused to yield to the Dream Killers in their lives. They said I will not be content with mediocrity and simply living life by default. They boldly declared I will pursue my dream with passion, I will learn from my mistakes. I refuse to quit and I will stir the creative genius within until it ignites into a roaring flame of success.
Essentially, they kept saying I CAN while the rest of the world believed the lie I CAN'T.
What about you? Are you going to let the Dream Killers snuff our that BIG dream within? Are you going to let circumstances and situations hold you back, or are you, like the BIG DREAMERS, refuse to believe the lies you have been told about your potential?
Your future awaits. Your BIG dream is still there. Pursue it with passion.
Keep telling yourself I CAN and one day YOU WILL!
2X martial arts Hall of Fame inductee, John Terry (The Black Belt Leader) is passionate about helping others become Black Belt Leaders in Life. He is a motivational speaker, leadership, sales & communication coach and trainer.
Jessie Terry, John's daughter, is a Certified Speaker, Coach, and Trainer with the John Maxwell Team and is actively involved in the JMT Global Youth Initiative. She is also a Real-Life Management trained coach and a certified Women-Safe Self-Defense Instructor.
For more information, schedule John (or Jessie) to speak to your organization or to book a personal, group or corporate coaching session, visit our website at www.beablackbeltleader.com.
If you are a faith-based organization, learn more about John and Jessie's outreach to churches, para-church organizations or faith-based volunteer groups by visiting www.DunamisFactor.com.
John is an Executive Director with the John Maxwell Team and is passionate about helping others pursue excellence as they become "Leaders in Life". He is also a Master Coach & Trainer with Real Life Management, a human behavioral training organization helping people learn how to live "Real Life" and make better choices when it comes to relationships, money, health, and wellness. John is also a certified DISC Human Behavior Consultant.
John's newest book, Black Belt Leadership 101, released as a #1 New Seller on Amazon Kindle. Also available in paperback, this book highlights the 10 essential character traits necessary to live life as a Black Belt Leader in Life.
Why just be a leader, when you can be a Black Belt Leader?
This book includes a Discussion Guide for either your own personal growth and development or to facilitate a group discussion with your Team. Get your copy today.