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May 27, 2010

The most influential teacher I had in high school was both my rugby coach and history teacher.  It’s no wonder that my number one goal after graduating was to be a high school history and english professor, and a rugby coach on the side.  One thing he said of all of his idioms, world views, and random musings still resonates within me to this day.  His exact words elude me, but the meaning is still there.

Life is about practice (Now, mind you, he also told me that life was like a bar fight, but I save that story for the teams I coach).  If you want to get stronger, lift.  Run faster?  Run.  Get smarter?  Study.  Play the piano?  Guess.  I’ll give you a hint: it involves a set of black and white keys, your fingers, and hours each day sitting on a bench. You get the idea.

You can be anything, do anything, become anything.  But it all starts in your mind.  Nothing ever came without dedication.  The next step: blood, sweat, tears, and determination.  If ever there was a magic bullet to success life, that’s it.

If you have the perfect life, I’m sure you could skip this post.  But there is always something out there you want to do better at.  That’s humanity.  That’s life.  And I’m telling you – whether you’re 20 or 70, ‘smart’ or ‘dumb’, skinny or fat – that you can always re-imagine yourself.

But I can’t do that, I’m too [insert excuse here]! Says who?

I was an honour-roll student in high school.  Just.  And the gist that I got from career counselling was “you just aren’t smart enough” to make anywhere than a mid-tier school.  Oh.  I believed them, too.  Then I saw my dream school at a presentation – a business school that beat out Harvard that one year in the rankings.  And I asked the speaker afterwards, “How do I get there?”.  Minimum 90% average to just be considered.  I had an 86%.  Always had an 86%, never was going to change, right?

But I had to go there.  Not anywhere else.  It was there, or bust.  I had a year to make that average.

I’d always studied, but I just studied harder.  Agonized over it.  I wanted to make the varsity rugby team, too – I came early to school everyday to practice throws and went to practice so hard breakfast consisted of Advil, then food.  By the end I could sink a rugby ball into the basketball net from the half court better than complete a layup.  At the end of the year I applied with a 92% average and a varsity jersey in my locker.  I’m 2 exams away from graduating from that school now.

Here’s my patent-pending 4 Steps to Re-Imagining Yourself:

  1. Look at yourself in the mirror.  Figuratively or literally.  You don’t know where to go until you know where you are.
  2. Decide who you want to be, where you want to be, what you want to do.
  3. Make a plan.  Write it down, tattoo it on your forehead.  Just remember the best laid plans of mice and men and roll with the punches.
  4. Do it, or die trying.  And keep doing it.  Listen to the critics, do a gut-check of what you’re doing.  Re-evaluate.  Then give a nice polite middle-finger to the nay-sayers, and keep on doing it, because you’ll get there.

Bull-headed?  Sure.  Cocky?  Let’s say very self-assured, tempered by a healthy does of awareness.  God, it’s not as simple as it looks, as I’m sure you’d like to tell me right now.  And be careful what you wish for, because it changes you, for better or for worse.

Maybe you think I’m a false prophet, spouting smoke and idle fantasies.  You can’t be anything.  Oh?  Then try and prove me wrong, and tell me a few years down the road.

Vi sees.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Jordan permalink
    May 27, 2010 1:40 pm

    Nick, this is great. So inspiring. Thanks for sharing it.

    • May 28, 2010 11:55 am

      Thanks, man. Exam period has put me in a rather introspective mood recently.

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