Anyone who knows me can attest to my unquenchable thirst for knowledge and the fact that many moments this past year left me utterly parched. As any longing man would, I ran to a firehose once I found an opportunity to satisfy my craving.
Accordingly, I quit my job on September 27th and hopped on a plane to chase some dreams of my own, in preparation for the thing—my mission. That plane landed in Germany, where I’m stationed for three months on a learning adventure in front-end web design, photo editing, and video editing.
Endless quotes in the public domain offer dreamers the inspiration necessary to make the “leap of faith” into the unknown, promising success to those who live passionately and follow their dreams. While these clichés are important in generating the energy required to overcome fears and apprehensions, they can be misleading and even damaging when taken out of context.
For most of us, our dreams must be seasoned with a heavy dose of pragmatism, planning and preparation. That is to say that the “leap of faith” is not the beginning of the pursuit, but rather the climax.
In 2009, before I even knew my greatest strengths or passions, I started taking specific, actionable steps towards personal growth and development. Surrounding myself with movers and shakers (i.e. Innoblue). Serving in leadership (i.e. Beta). Volunteering (i.e. HPCD). Expanding my global and cultural perspectives (i.e. Schreyer). Reading widely. Diversifying my skills. Seeking mentorship. Deepening the roots of my faith.
Whenever I discovered an amazing environment or opportunity, I moved in that direction. The organizations I joined, the books I read, the courses I took…all part of my preparation, digging a foundation for the future. And what was the best part? The amazing friends and communities I met in the process.
One thing I know to be true is that by doing the things you love, you’ll meet people you love.
As time passed, more pieces of my life vision started to fit together and the greater picture grew increasingly clear. From coaching to mentoring, teaching to consulting, writing to public speaking, I realized my passion is to foster personal growth and development in others. As this realization surfaced in March 2012, I embraced it and sought ways to accelerate my momentum.
However, at two months away from graduation, I was realistically not ready to take a “leap of faith.” With school debt to pay, professional experience to be gained, and a lack of desired technical skills, I opted to stay the course of digging my foundation (i.e. work my corporate consulting job, pay off debt, save money).
From 2012-2013, I used every non-work moment available to stay on my mission and continue to put myself in a position to make the “leap of faith” when the opportunity was ripe. Fast forward 15 months and I’d checked the boxes—debt paid, money saved, experience gained, confidence established. What missing elements remain? Desired technical skills and a ripe opportunity.
So that’s where I stand as of October 24th , 2013. I’m studying in Germany for 3 months to bridge my technical skills gap and I’m now building something that I genuinely believe will help millions of people take actionable steps towards the discovery and realization of their dreams. Few things are as liberating as working and living with a passionate community in pursuit of a common goal…I’m stoked!
The chief purpose of this monologue is to discourage blind acceptance of the “leap of faith” fallacy. You don’t have to quit your job, move to a new location, or take any other drastic, knee-jerk measures to pursue your dreams. All growth and development takes time, patience, and training.
Doctors must train.
Athletes must train.
Writers must train.
Everyone must train.
This is the proven model and has been since the Middle Ages. In the words of rags-to-riches icon Jim Rohn, “Success is steady progress toward one's personal goals.”
So dream boldly. Figure out your roadmap. Eliminate distractions. Surround yourself with amazing community. Master the necessary skills. I bet there is a good chance you’re already on the path there.