Thursday, March 29, 2012

You can't be anything you want

I had to laugh at a comment I heard during a public service announcement yesterday: "In America you can be anything you want to be if you want it bad enough!" They were talking about the arts, music, being a politician and even sports. Anything is within your grasp! Yeah, right! The world, let alone this country is filled to overflowing with people that had high aspirations, worked their butt off and wound up disappointed and broke. I think the thought behind the comment is admirable. No doubt a lot of well meaning folks want to inspire our younger generation and prod them into action regarding their future. I admire that part. The truth of the matter is that we can't all be what we want to be, even through hard work and dedication. More accurately, in my humble opinion we all have the opportunity to be the best that we can be in whatever situation we find ourselves in. I once tried to be an insurance salesman. My intentions were admirable, I wanted everyone to provide for their families in the event of premature death. I worked night and day, studied constantly, talked to 5 or 10 prospects a day and wrote hundreds of policies. I went broke! I really, really wanted to be the best insurance salesman in the world. I simply didn't have the talent for it. A guy I worked with at the same agency worked the same hours I did, studied as much as I did, talked to as many prospects as I did, wrote a few less policies than I did and to this day he is one of the most successful and financially well off insurance salesmen in this part of the country. It takes more than desire, dedication and hard work. I firmly believe each of us has a certain set of unique qualities and in order to succeed we have to match those qualities with what we set out to do.

In the mentoring process I was involved in for over 25 years one of the hurdles so many young men had to overcome was false hope based on blindness to their own abilities and limitations. Being young and ambitious is a wonderful thing. Being full of ambition and using it to attain the impossible is quite another. One of my favorite, all time great athletes is Brandon Inge of the Detroit Tigers. When he was on the triple A team, West Michigan White Caps he played as a catcher and did rather well. Enough to get noticed and signed by the Tigers. Then they changed his position to third base. I don't know how Brandon felt about changing positions but soon he became Hall of Fame quality as one of the best third basemen I have ever seen. Not just rather well but extraordinary. He's still played catcher from time to time but he is Mr. Baseball at third base. In a way, his position at third base became what he wanted to be in the first place.

I would like to encourage everyone to excel in something. But that something may not be what they dreamt of. Some of us can live out their dream but all of us can live happily by accepting ourselves and being the best we can be at whatever it is we are doing at the time. I'd like you to think about this: Look at the people living in the public eye. Actors, musicians, politicians and sports figures. If you listen to them they are living a dream. Money, prestige, praise and admiration. They have it all, just like the public service announcement I mentioned earlier. If all that was so great, why are so many of them unhappy, take drugs, cheat on their spouses, spend all their money, go broke and constantly do other stupid stuff. Personally, I think I'd rather utilize my unique qualities to the best of my ability, be happy and maintain a sense of integrity.

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