Photo Credit: Photo Courtesy of Kurt Warner
I can still remember sitting in my 3rd grade class and the teacher asking us, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I answered without hesitation, “I want to be a professional football player!” I was certain that one day I would watch that dream play out in front of family and friends, and anybody else who was interested.
My teacher then asked me the one word follow up question, “Why”? Why? Because I want to be on TV. I want to have a jersey with my name on it. Because I am better at football than anyone else I know! (I obviously didn’t lack confidence and although not always a good thing, it has served me well for the most part.) It’s funny when I reminisce and realize all of the reasons I wanted to achieve my dream were self-serving. I suppose this is pretty common for someone in the 3rd grade. I am a little embarrassed to admit those were basically the same reasons I had some 12 or 13 years later. As I was getting ready to graduate from college and hopefully take the final step to seeing my dream become a reality, I was still looking through self-serving glasses. My eyes were solely on what a career in the NFL would provide me personally: fame, money, popularity, etc…
Unfortunately for me at the time, I was cut by the first NFL team for which I tried out, the Green Bay Packers. Being cut would eventually lead to me taking a job stocking shelves in a grocery store, playing in lower-level professional football leagues, and wondering if that little 3rd grade bubble was finally about to be popped. What I didn’t know at the time was that little unfortunate situation would become one of the most character-defining moments of my life.
As I bounced around doing all of the things I mentioned above, I did some soul searching on why this was important to me. If this whole quest was truly about money and fame, there was no way it would survive, and if it did, it wouldn’t be something I would be proud of when it was over. I wasn’t necessarily a self-seeking person in my life. I just think as a young man I didn’t really understand what my dream had to offer besides those superficial things.
As I dove into why I wanted this dream so badly, I either developed a newfound motivation or I uncovered something that was driving me, but that I had never really brought to light before: IMPACT.
As I was going through this chapter of my life, a lot of things were changing for me as a person. I met the woman (and her two children) who would eventually become my wife. I had to start considering my role as a father and how the pursuit of my dream would influence them. And I came to a new understanding of what the Christian faith was all about.
All of these things brought a huge dose of reality to this little dream of mine. The reality was I could no longer waste my life pursuing this dream if it was simply for personal worldly gain. If this was going to survive and be beneficial to my new life, it had to be rooted in something much deeper.
The great thing for me is it didn’t take me long to realize it most certainly was. As I reflected on both sides of the coin: continuing the pursuit of my dream and ‘getting a real job’ (if I had a dime for every time I heard that from family and friends), the same theme continued to emerge: IMPACT.
I knew if I was going to become the person I wanted to be, it could only be in the pursuit of my dream. Just to be clear, I said the ‘pursuit of my dream’. As I sit back now and reflect on my life up to this point I believe it was the journey that made me the person I am today, not the destination. I am who I am today because of all the things I learned through the process, not because I actually put on a uniform and played in the NFL.
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