Photo Credit: Photo Courtesy of Kurt Warner
I have the pleasure of hosting a new reality series on USA Network called, The Moment. The premise of the show is that we all have a dream, but many of us, due to different circumstances in life, are forced to walk away from those dreams. We never lose the desire. But oftentimes we lose direction. We develop fear, or we make excuses as to why we can’t chase that path anymore.
One thing I realized while shooting this series is how much family plays an important role in determining whether or not a person chases their dream. Everything from subtle encouragement to demonstrative cheerleading can be the force to move the needle in the direction of one pursuing their dream. But, the needle can move just as easily in the other direction with similar means of discouragement.
When we talk to people about their dreams they always tend to come across as an individual dream: I want to be a professional football player. I want to be a designer. I want to be a photographer. I want to be a chef. I want to have my own business, etc… But, after having the chance to reflect on my career and the lives of the hopefuls on my new show, it becomes quite clear that dreams are very seldom individual endeavors. For children, much of their pursuit of their dream depends on the attitudes and commitment of their parents. As we move out on our own, the encouragement/discouragement of our spouse/significant other is often the most vital factor on whether one gives up or perseveres. And in many other instances it comes down to how we feel our pursuit of our dream will affect our children, positively or negatively.
What I know about pursuing your dreams is there is no way to do it without infringing on the lives of those around you. That infringement can take on many different forms. In my situation I put my family through: financial strain, long work days/less quality time, and re-location (especially at critical moments in my children’s lives), just to name a few. And for as many sacrifices as I made, my family made just as many of their own, with most coming without the same benefits I received.
Although my family has greatly benefitted from my personal success and the achievement of my dream, I know I will never be able to repay what they did to make it all possible. The greatest of these things was to put their lives on hold and adopt my dream as their own. For many years I thought becoming a professional football player was something I had to accomplish alone. At some point along the journey it became evident there was no way that I could. The only way for me to truly chase my dream, and do everything it required, was for my family to buy in with the same ‘whatever it takes’ attitude.
I count myself blessed to have accomplished my dream of playing in the NFL. But, I count myself as more blessed for having a family that has joined me in the journey. The journey has been filled with great highs and lows, and I really don’t know how I would have gotten through either without the love and support of my family. They were my biggest cheerleaders during the moments of success and my biggest encouragers during the times of despair. Together we shed many a tear, mostly of joy, but also of pain. It became obvious they were invested in this dream as much as I was. That made all the difference.
I am not sure on which side of the coin you fall, but I am sure you play a significant role in fulfilling a dream. Maybe you are the parent of a child who is vocalizing their goals and dreams and your response could be the deciding vote. Perhaps you are the spouse of a dreamer who needs your support and approval to truly lay caution to the wind for one last run at their passion. Or possibly, YOU are the dreamer! The one who so desperately feels called to a particular vocation, but is being held back by the perceived emotions and attitudes of your family.
Wherever you fall along this spectrum, I encourage you to use this column as motivation to join with those closest to you and figure out how, together, you can make a dream come true. Find out what your child or spouse/significant other needs from you to ‘adopt’ their dream as your own. Or share this with your family as a means of asking them to ‘adopt’ yours.
Because, take it from someone who knows, if that dream never becomes a ‘family dream’, the chances of it being realized are nearly impossible.
WATCH: Football and Concussions: How To Keep Kids Safe On The Field