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Posts Tagged ‘Breakthrough Moments’

A Journey of a Thousand Miles…

In Family, Life on March 8, 2011 at 5:38 pm

…Begins with a Single Step

Patience in our instant gratification society has become a lost art.  Often times we want to skip the journey just so we can arrive at our destination.  We spend so much of our lives planning and looking towards the future that we sometimes forget to live in the moment and make each day count.

Adjusting to changes that take us out of our comfort zone can be difficult at times.  But the bumps in the road help us appreciate success much more than a life devoid of challenges.

This is the 100th post of Waldo’s Life / Waldo2010.  When I started writing the blog, it had an entirely different purpose, look, feel and tone.  The blog was hastily launched in an attempt to seize the day after experiencing a tragic event with a very close friend.

In all honesty, I started the journey without a plan, a map or an even an idea where it would eventually take me.  Since its inception, I have experienced the highs and lows that make life interesting.  It took some radical life changes to help illuminate the path that I wanted to take.  But without the radical changes, I may never have realized what I really wanted out of life.

Many of us long for a breakthrough moment, but get impatient when it takes longer than we would like, and we give up too soon.  Like most parents, I find the breakthrough moments that my kids have to be particularly satisfying.

When this journey of a thousand miles began, my son was adjusting to a new way of life, and trying to excel in football (his favorite sport since he was old enough to walk).  My daughter was a late developer who walked and talked much later than most kids.  As frustrating as life can be sometimes when things don’t go as planned, it is nothing compared to watching your children struggle to find their way.

Thankfully, both of my kids have had notable breakthrough moments since our journey began.

This morning, my little one ran to the car with her backpack almost knocking her over.  When we arrived at her school, she ran into the school, and then into her classroom.  She was so excited to be in class that she barely said goodbye to me.  She regularly talks about how much she is looking forward to starting Kindergarten next year so that she can go to school every day like her big brother.

The difference in her attitude towards school since the beginning of the year is astounding.  She used to cling to me and cry so hysterically that you would have thought that I was saying goodbye forever.  Little by little, she started to enjoy her days in school.  And now she is at the point where she cried when school was cancelled because of the weather.  She cried when she had to stay home with a fever.  Often times, she asks to go to school on days when it is not even open.  A thousand miles ago, I could never have predicted where this journey would have taken her.

Since she has embraced school, her enjoyment of learning has increased dramatically.  Because she was a late developer, she still has her share of challenges, but you would never know it by the way that she acts or the way that she thinks.

At 4 years old, she can complete a United States map puzzle nearly as quickly as I can.  She knows which states we will be passing through (in the exact order) when we drive back to New York from Texas.  She can recite the names of the kids in her class in alphabetical order, even though her teachers have told us that they don’t do that in class as a rule.  She climbs on the playground with the same confidence as her older brother.

For a kid who didn’t walk until she was nearly a year-and-a-half or talk until she was around two-and-a-half, the progress that she has shown still amazes me on a daily basis.  A thousand miles ago, this progress was beyond my wildest dreams.  The journey was not an easy one, but the results have been very rewarding.

My son has always done well in school, and continues to excel to a level that is beyond anything that I ever achieved.  He has been playing football since he was in Kindergarten, but he wasn’t one of those kids who had the natural ability to succeed even though the desire was there.

To his credit, he has always been very coachable, and has always worked very hard on the football field.  He has progressed every year to the point of being a solid player, but far from dominant.  He was not blessed with the speed to carry the ball or the size to push people around on the line.  Even though he has played on the line since he was 5 years old, he has never looked the part.

This season, nearly 100 kids participated in tryouts.  We had planned for him to land on a team where I could be an assistant coach because I had a relationship with the head coach.  I feared after watching him in tryouts that he wouldn’t make it to the team that we wanted because he performed so well.  On draft day, he was picked before the head coach that I knew could get him.  The head coach thought that he would easily get him because of his size and speed, but it wasn’t meant to be.

The team that picked him ended up being a great fit, and he has never been happier.  His head coach told me that he had him ranked 10th out of 100 kids, and grabbed him early even though he already had already protected the best line in the league.

In previous seasons, my son had started off slowly and gradually got better as the season went on.  This season, with a confidence that I have never seen, he has picked up where he left off and then some.  Going against the best kids in the league in practice, he is more than holding his own.  His head coach has already told me that he won’t be coming off the field on either side of the ball.  A thousand miles ago, when this journey began, I never would have predicted this breakthrough moment.

Unfortunately, we will only get to play with this team for one season, as another journey of a thousand miles is about to begin.  Actually, this journey will be closer to two thousand miles, as we pack up and return to New York for good.

Like the journey that we took nearly two years ago when we decided to move to Texas, this journey will be bittersweet as well.  It will be difficult to say goodbye to the family who is staying here and the friends that we’ve all made since our arrival.  But as the saying goes…“home is where the heart is.”  And though there will be aspects of Texas life that we will miss, our hearts are in New York.

A thousand miles ago, our lives were very different than they are today.  No one knows where we will be at the end of the next thousand mile journey, but I’ll do whatever I can to make it memorable for all of us.

Thank you to those who have followed this journey since it began, and also to those who have started following somewhere along the way.

To paraphrase Natasha Bedingfield – “Today is where this book begins…the rest is still unwritten.”

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Breakthrough Moments (Part 2 of 2)

In Inspiration and Motivation, Life Lessons, Pursuit of Happiness on January 12, 2010 at 6:45 am

(This is the second post in a 2-part series)

If you truly believe that success is going to happen, a breakthrough moment will eventually occur, although the timing of it cannot be guaranteed. Case in point:  the Dallas Cowboys.  Whether you love or hate the Cowboys (or even if you’re not a football fan), the lessons learned from this story can be applied to anyone’s life.

After a string of success in the early 90’s, the Cowboys started to falter (much to the delight of the throngs of Cowboy-haters around the country). The last playoff game that they won was against the Vikings in December of 1996.  It is remarkable that a storied franchise with a winning history could go through nearly a decade-and-a-half without winning at least one playoff game, but it happened.

In 2006, their chance to end the playoff drought slipped away (both literally and figuratively) as Tony Romo bobbled the ball, on what would have been a fairly easy, game-winning field goal attempt.  Any doubts that already existed were intensified by this unlikely turn of events.  As a devastated Tony Romo walked off of the field, many wondered if he would ever be able to regain his confidence and reach his potential.

When the season ended, the Cowboys parted ways with Bill Parcells (one of the most respected, successful coaches in the game). He was replaced by Wade Phillips (a winning coach that had never won a playoff game). In his first season with the Cowboys, Phillips coached the team to a 13-3 record – making them the favorites to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.  However, the heavily-favored Cowboys lost to the Giants in their first playoff game – a crushing turn-of-events that continued to reinforce the doubt that plagued Romo, Phillips and the Cowboys.

The following year, the Cowboys had a chance to return to the playoffs by winning their last game of the season against the Eagles (who also needed a win to qualify for the playoffs). No one expected that the Cowboys would have an easy time beating the Eagles in Philadelphia, but most thought that they would at least be competitive.  As the Cowboys walked off the field, demoralized from a shocking 44-6 thrashing at the hands of their most bitter rivals, doubt had reached an all-time high.  Most people thought that Wade Phillips would be fired and that Tony Romo couldn’t win the “big game.”

This season, Phillips returned as the head coach and Romo returned as the starting quarterback.  The Cowboys struggled early, and then went on a winning streak, leaving them in first place going into December.  However, December and January have not been kind to the Cowboys in recent years.  When they lost their first two games in December, everyone, including the most die-hard Cowboy fans, believed that history was about to repeat itself one more time.

Their next opponent was the Saints, who had already won their first 13 games of the season.  Adding to the challenge was the fact that the game was being played in New Orleans at the Superdome (a stadium known for crowd noise that hampers the visiting team’s ability to communicate with each other).  To make matters worse, there was a chance that they would be playing the game without their best defensive player, DeMarcus Ware, who was carted off the field six days earlier in a neck brace.  No one gave the Cowboys a chance to win the game against the Saints.  Most thought that they would miss the playoffs all together.  But then it happened!  The first breakthrough moment!

The Cowboys came into the Superdome and beat the Saints, ending New Orleans’ undefeated season.  The next week, they shut out their long-time rivals, the Washington Redskins.  Suddenly their playoff hopes were alive again.  After the Giants lost, the Cowboys clinched a playoff spot, with a chance to win the division.  All they had to do was beat the same Philadelphia Eagle team that eliminated them last year in embarrassing fashion (almost the same scenario as last year). The only differences being that the game was being played in Dallas, not Philadelphia, and for the division title instead of a playoff spot.

Even though the game was being played in Dallas, many thought that the Eagles would win because of their recent play and the Cowboys history.  The Eagles had won 6 straight games heading into the season finale against Dallas.  The Cowboys, on the other hand, were still battling their December / January demons, having lost an inexplicable nine-straight season finales.  As the game came to a close, the Cowboys had shut out the same Eagles team that had decimated them in the same situation a year before.  It was the first time in the history of the franchise that they shut out their opponent on consecutive weeks.

The victory against the Eagles meant that they would have a playoff game at home the following week against the same Eagles team that they had just dominated.  Having beaten them earlier in the year in Philadelphia, the Cowboys would need to beat their division rivals three times in one season if they were to get the final monkey off of their backs, and quite possibly, save their head coach’s job.

The naysayers and prognosticators flooded the airwaves with their predictions that the Cowboys would lose.  They pointed to statistics to validate their points.  Andy Reid (the head coach of the Eagles) had never lost a first-round playoff game.  Wade Phillips had never won a playoff game.  Donovan McNabb (the Eagles quarterback) had won several playoff games.  Tony Romo was still looking for his first playoff victory.

Was it really possible for the Cowboys exorcise their playoff demons by beating the same team in back-to-back weeks?  Could this be the year for Tony Romo to get his first playoff victory after playing poorly in his two previous playoff appearances?  Could Wade Phillips inspire his team to perform the way that they had in the previous three games, giving him a chance to claim his first playoff victory after several seasons as an NFL head coach?  The answer to all of these questions is a resounding – YES!

The Cowboys, once again, dominated the Eagles just as they had six days earlier.  Another breakthrough moment for the team that was left for dead just one month earlier!  Had Wade Phillips, Tony Romo and the rest of the Dallas Cowboys bought into all of the negativity based on past failures, they most likely would have failed.  Tony Romo would still be known as the quarterback that couldn’t win “the big one.” Wade Phillips would probably have been fired as the head coach, quite possibly never getting the chance to win a playoff game again.

Breakthrough moments can (and will) happen when you believe in yourself, in spite of the doubts and negativity that exists in others.  Success is created from within, and cannot be stopped by the pessimism of those that don’t believe in what you are doing.   As the legendary coach, Vince Lombardi, once said…“The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather in a lack of will.”

Breakthrough Moments

In Family, Inspiration and Motivation, Life Lessons, Pursuit of Happiness on January 11, 2010 at 11:20 am

There comes a time in everyone’s life when they are inspired to do something.  Often times, however, someone else is there to rain on their parade by doubting them.  When you’re a kid, the world is your oyster, but for some reason, cynicism tends to creep in as we grow older.  Of all of the four-letter words that we learn as we grow up, I believe that the one that is most destructive is the word – “can’t.” We would all be better off if we spent our time encouraging others (as we do with children) rather than trying to tear them down with negativity.

As a parent of young children, it is pretty common to hear the words…“When I grow up I want to be a …” No matter what the answer is at the end of the sentence, my response is always positive and encouraging, telling them that they can be whatever they want to be if they put their mind to it.  Is it always realistic?  Of course not, but that doesn’t mean that children should be discouraged.

For example, my son’s favorite sport is football.  He talks about wanting to play in the NFL someday.  While it is possible, it isn’t very likely.  When you factor in his genetics, he’s probably as likely to become a real-life superhero as he is an NFL player, but I don’t tell him that he can’t make his dream come true.  It would serve no purpose other than to discourage him from trying to be his best.  As we grow up, we are not afforded the same luxury.  People feel free to openly express their doubt in the hopes and dreams of others, even when their opinions were never solicited in the first place.

We have two choices as we pursue our hopes and dreams.  We can dream big and be undeterred by the negativity of others, or we can allow our dreams to fade away by letting fear and the doubt of others dictate our actions.  Personally, I’ve made the choice to dream big.  I am willing to use the inevitable setbacks that will occur as a valuable learning tool to help me to reach my goals.  I am NOT willing to let the doubt and negativity of others stop me from pursuing my dreams.

Pursuing big dreams in the face of fear and doubt is not easy.  It takes work to keep picking yourself back up again after each setback.  As Winston Churchill said – “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.” If you truly believe that success is going to happen, a breakthrough moment will eventually occur, although the timing of it cannot be guaranteed.

In part 2 of this post tomorrow, I will share a true story about the timing of Breakthrough Moments…

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