Find Your Way

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Ten years ago, I met a brilliant architect who went by the moniker of “Doc.” I was surprised by the nickname, so I had to ask. He replied, absolutely straight-faced, that following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, he went to medical school and became a pediatrician except there was a problem: “I hated it. Oh, I love kids – I have two of my own, but I hated medicine.”

He said he was determined to follow his heart, and to the “horror” of his family, he walked away from pediatrics and over time, became an architect. He went off to study Japanese architecture in Tokyo. In fact, that is where he met his wife.



We all have dreams, and sometimes they seem just a bit out of reach. We all have potential, but often we believe that potential just isn’t enough. We tend to compare ourselves to others who believe are stronger, richer and more talented. We might even ask ourselves, “Why not me?” Sometimes the question is also asked in the form of a prayer.

The defining difference between those who have dreams, and those who act on them; those who realize their potential and those who don’t; those who compare and those who could care less about comparison, can be condensed into one word: determination.

How determined are you to change?

Those who have the determination to change their future can achieve greatness, but it needs to be said that for the most part, we set the bars so unrealistically high we often defeat ourselves before we begin.

If we are consumed by the images of success we see on the social networks, or on television, or in the movies, it is hard for anyone of us to see ourselves in a different light in the future. Part of the problem is that movies, for example, are extreme in their one hour and twenty-minute condensation. There are hundreds of small steps in-between. Then, there is the reality of unrealistic expectations.


Finding Your How

Given what I have just said about determination this small point might sound hypocritical, but we have to realistically respect our limitations. Chances are, a 150-pound, 36-year-old man will never become an interior lineman for the Pittsburgh Steelers. However, there is nothing to preclude him from becoming an NFL or collegiate coach if the work is put in one step at a time. A woman who has a severe balance and hearing problem probably won’t realize her dream of becoming a commercial airline pilot, but there is nothing to prevent her from working in the industry as an airline executive.

Barring certain, specific realistic conditions, determination can help us overcome almost any other obstacles in our way. However, the first suggestion to be embraced is to lose all of the movie images and pseudo-success stories we might see on Facebook, and ask ourselves, “What steps do I need to take to get where I want to go?”

For example, a high school dropout who works as a custodian and has a strong desire to become a university professor needs to have the determination to take it one step at a time to achieve that goal. It starts not with images of ivy-covered buildings or writing a brilliant Ph.D. thesis but with completing a G.E.D.

Determination is magically self-reinforcing. Completing a G.E.D. might make junior college or a four-year college seem possible; getting an undergraduate degree might make graduate school seem possible.

What is critical to maintaining determination is to surround yourself with positivity. Negative people kill determination. There may be obstacles on your path to becoming an art teacher or football coach or pipe-fitter or commercial airline pilot but economic circumstances, race, religion, gender or sexual orientation should never be brought up by a friend or family member who tries to crush your dream.

The magic of determination is that it attracts allies. If you are determined to achieve your goals, you will find support in a hundred unexpected places.

Hold on to your dream. Be determined to realize your dream but never allow anyone to tell that you cannot accomplish what you have set out to accomplish. When your why is big enough you will find your how. When you find your how you will find your way.



For more information about Hall of Fame speaker and bestselling author Steve Gilliland and the Gilliland Foundation, please contact steve@stevegilliland.com / 724-540-5019 / www.stevegilliland.com.