“To change ourselves effectively, we first had to change our perceptions.”
(Stephen R. Covey)
More than thirty years ago I received a piece of advice that transformed my life.
It was the summer of 1984. I was training to be a strong safety for the Los Angeles Raiders football team. Six months earlier, I had tried out and failed to make the team for the Saskatchewan Rough Riders in the Canadian Football League. I wanted desperately to be a professional football player. I was seeking advice. I was looking for magic. I wanted someone to just tell me what to do to succeed.
Nothing is Missing
One of my lifelong friends was playing for the St. Mary’s College football team in Moraga, California. His position coach was a former professional player for the Houston Oilers. I asked my friend if he would make an introduction.
His coach was gracious and agreed to meet me. During our conversation, I asked him about his career, and how he made the leap from college to the pros. I asked him what advice he could share that could make a difference for me.
Of course, there was no magic he could offer. He told me to keep doing what I was doing. He reminded me that at each step in the game, through four years of high school and four years of college, I had done what was needed to succeed. He told me to keep working hard, to trust in my abilities, and to be myself. As we parted, he shared a quote that has profoundly impacted my life…
“Your day belongs to another’s dream.”
He was trying to shift my perspective — from chasing more and wanting life to be different, to being grateful and accepting my life as it was. He wanted me to understand that no matter what happened with the Raiders, I was already successful in football. It was his way of showing me that many other football players dreamed of being in the situation I was in… earning an opportunity to become a pro. He wanted me to acknowledge and appreciate what I had already accomplished.
The quote influenced me way beyond football. It has been my reminder every day since that there are people in this world who can only dream of my daily experience as an American man, living in a country with the freedom to create the life I desire, and the opportunity to pursue my dreams.
It is my constant reminder to be grateful for whatever I have in the moment.
The quote helps me maintain perspective of the ups and the downs of life with humility. This was a big and important lesson for me. Perspective is getting beyond the personalization of success and failure. It means realizing that “I” am only one variable of many that may be responsible when life is in a “down” cycle. It also means not grabbing credit when life is on the “up” swing. Again, “I” am only one piece of the puzzle creating the current state of my life.
The quote helps me shift my focus off of my ego and put it where it belongs, being grateful for what I have in the moment.
In my post next Wednesday, I’ll introduce three people who inspire me. They exemplify the attitude of being grateful for what they have, like nothing is missing.
Books and documentaries can be a great source for wisdom and inspiring quotes. Check out our products page for a few Happy Living approved favorites!
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