Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Most people never truly go after their dreams. They look at the obstacles that stand in their way and think it’s just too much, it’s going to be too hard. Many can’t face the possibility of trying and failing. They don’t realize that failing is an essential part of succeeding.

Then there are people who have the courage, confidence, faith and optimism to go after their dreams but when faced with seemingly insurmountable obstacles give up.

One common reason that stops people who have decided to go after their dreams from following through is this:

-They allow real obstacles to give them a justifiable reason to fail with the comfort of being able to say “It’s not my fault.”

We don’t want to be perceived, or perceive ourselves, as quitting or giving up. So if we start to believe it might not be possible to reach our goal we may hope (sometimes subconsciously, other times not) that an insurmountable obstacle arises which will give us a justifiable reason to quit while still being able to reassure ourselves that it wasn’t our fault. We are okay with failing as long as we don’t have to take blame for it. We start looking for something or someone else to point the finger at. It’s the system. It’s society. It’s the circumstances.

I recently did a presentation for a group of middle school teachers. More so than many other professions, people go into teaching because it’s a passion. They love kids and they love being in a position where they can make a positive difference in kid’s lives. For them, going into teaching is absolutely pursuing a dream.

Make no mistake about it, teaching is a very difficult job. Let me reword that, being a good teacher is a very difficult job. Kids learn differently, have varied perspectives and an assortment of influences which effect how they look at things. There isn’t one teaching strategy that works well for all children. If that wasn’t enough there are other systemic obstacles that come with the current circumstances in the public school system.
-Standardized testing which restricts a teacher’s flexibility in how they teach.
-Classrooms which sometimes have over 40 kids per teacher.
-School years being shortened.
-Parents that have no interest in their children’s education.

These are all real and very significant obstacles teachers have to deal with. It would be understandable for them to feel overwhelmed, like their hands were tied.

I imagine that most of us have had times when we felt like this. I know I have. Recognize it when it’s happening to you. Don’t allow yourself this easy out. Ask yourself those two questions:

-Is it possible for you to succeed?
-Do you want it badly enough to do what it’s going to take to make it happen?

If you answer “yes” to both those questions then brainstorm, research, look for other options and new ways to maneuver around or trample right over the obstacles that stand in your way. Wake up and go to bed at night by recommitting to your goals. Take your focus off of the ultimate goal you are aiming for and think about smaller, short term goals. What can you do today that will make a difference? What small steps can you take that will keep you moving towards your goal. No step is too small as long as it’s in the right direction.

There will always be reasons to quit and places to point blame. It may make you feel better when you fail but you will never succeed. Winners keep fighting despite the obstacles.

Fortunately, most of the teacher’s I know love kids too much and are too passionate about teaching to ever give up.

How passionate are you about your goals? Have you ever given yourself that easy out and given up on your dreams only to regret it later?

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About Dan

Author, Speaker, Coach and World Champion Dan Brodsky-Chenfeld will show you how to create champions and build winning teams.


  1. Dan B.C. you are the man. I am so honored to know you and to have had the privilege to have been coached by you. You were there when I won my gold medal and I’ll never forget your comments about how much more special is because it was a jump off. Keep blogging my friend. The value you provide to the world is enormous.

  2. hi dan, first of all i like the blog post. I used to be a middle school teacher so i relate firsthand to the blog. I want to say something about expectations as a teacher. I think a teacher expectations of him or her self is to be a guide. A guide to finding a student’s potential and attitude within their own persona. In otherwards, if student can’t be themself in finding success ultimately others may see them as successful , but student may not see themself in same light. It’s kinda like telling one self i need to super organized. however, deep down the student is spontaneous,creative and loathes constant organization. I hope i wasn’t longwinded. A student’s expectation of him or herself would have to be explained in a few paragraphs in which im not writing. LOL! thnx again for the blog.

  3. Dan

    You could have been talking to me personally when you wrote this blog. I’ve just finsished a terrific 5 days doing an intense course on innovation and commercialising your ideas. I came back to work with energy and lots of ideas and then faced the negatives of “we can’t because….” and I suddenly felt that I wasn’t going to be able to move forward. I could feel the energy going and my starting to accept the reasons that people in the office have been giving. Then you put it all in perspective for me and I’m now making the list of what are the alternatives.



  4. One, I love that you’re blogging, it’s an awesome supplement to the book. And what’s more? I totally felt like this. Definitely before I moved here, and especially when I was in recovery from my accident in December. I knew that breaking my back was enough to get me out if I wanted out. I knew that nobody could really blame me for quitting of I didn’t get back in the air, including my boyfriend (now fiancé). Since then, I’ve adopted the mindset that I want to get back to my goals. I want a medal. Multiple medals, even. But there are still parts of me that freak out. The fitness side of me makes excuses. I do insanity for two weeks and on that third week, I crashed. I couldn’t get enough sleep. I have been making excuses for the past month about how it’s so hot (it is) and how I’m so tired (I am) and justifying why I haven’t been killing it in the gym lately. No more. My freefall skills are finally catching up to my training (thank you Hammo) and it’s high time I applied myself in all aspects of skydiving. Awesome post. Thanks for inadvertently getting my ass in line. ;)

    1. Thanks for commenting Shirley and Syd. I think everyone has experienced this. Giving up feels so justified, we convince ourselves that we did all we could. But it’s usually crap. As soon as we call ourselves on it and understand where these emotions are coming from we reevaluate, can see the truth more clearly and stop accepting excuses. And it feels so good to get back to work!

  5. Great blog! I had an epiphany a few weeks ago,our kids need to hear our dreams! Children can learn to make excuses from their parents or they can see how scared and determined their parents can be to embark on a new dream!

    1. Tracy,
      More than anything, I hope that my skydiving career is an example to my kids that you really can turn your dreams into reality.
      Thanks, and I have to tell you, I love it when you agree with me.
      Your teachers were the inspiration for this blog.
      As usual, in one line you have just made me commit to blogging. How do you do that?
      Thanks for all of you.

  6. Awesome blog. Great teachers are driven by that passion and sense of responsibility that gives them superhuman powers to overcome the obstacles they face daily. If only our own goals were as impossible to ignore as a room full of 15 year olds with an English GCSE coming up. :)

  7. The two questions; Is it possible for you to succeed and Do you want it badly enough are going to be posted on my office wall today….thanks Dan

  8. Fabulous blog Dan. An excellent story to share.
    So pleased you are making the time to keep your words alive and moving forward. I know how busy you must be so it’s clear to me that you are doing whatever it takes to keep blogging.

  9. Dan, well done. In my case it took a partner (team) to help my confidense and get over that unsurmountable…

    Reminds me of a book “The Monk who sold his Ferrari” good read, the author spoke to our corporate back in the day. The book taught me to think about small and big things differently.

    Thanks for the blog, look forward to more.

    Blue Skies

  10. Something also has to be said for; realizing that a run at a dream has played it’s course. Your abilities have been pushed to the max and you’ve fallen short at becoming the VERY best at said dream. You keep striving to overcome all the obstacles, to find that you no longer have been making progress.
    Realizing that there are many more personal dreams that you have the talent and drive to strive and dedicate another 6 – 10 years to finding what the “top of your ability” has to offer. Personally… can’t seem to be happy in my life unless am pushing myself towards some type of physical – outdoorsy type goal. Sure do hope that i haven’t ever given up too soon on some things though….
    Life is made to be lived!

  11. Hi Todd,
    There are certainly times in life when a dream has run it’s course. When you’ve given it everything and have reached your full potential. In this situation whether to continue or not comes back to the first of the two questions.
    -Is it possible for you to succeed? If you decide it’s impossible for you to reach your dream, that there isn’t any set of circumstances you could imagine that would create the possibility of success, than the answer to the question is “no”, it’s not possible. In no way does this suggest that your previous efforts towards this dream were a waste of time. They weren’t. Reaching the actual goal you were after is not the only measure of success. But it it time to set your sights on different goals. In my book I actually speak of this exactly.
    Thanks for sharing.

  12. Dan- I think you should go on with these thoughts as your experiences are golden
    in the area of education and team building in general. In this sad say of so much bullying and disruptions, drop outs, alienated kids, building community within the school structure is the MOST important goal to insure success for every student.
    Your approach to cooperation and mutual respect and the courage not to giive up are excellent lessons that can touch and change so many people. WRITE ON!

    1. Mimi, thank you for posting this. Dan has a great gift to share and I am seeing the results daily as teachers come and tell me how they see the points he shared with them can be implemented.

  13. My personal motto is “Never Give Up!” I think in many aspects you are saying the same thing. When I give up something inside looses ground and I feel like a failure. As long as I am trying I am in the game and that means I am learning.

    Dan BC you have skills far beyond the skies — you inspire!!

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts~~~~

  14. Hi Dan,

    I’ve been reading your book and grinning on every page. You selling your plane to train brought me back the mixed feelings I felt in 96 and then again in 98 when I sold my car to train with my team. How broke I was but working around obstacles to extract the last drop of juice from every jump. Good memories.

    I’ve been working hard on a personal project for the last year and I’ve hit some walls lately (I’ll tell you about it in person, as it is skydiving related). Your book and your blog are serving as a tremendous inspiration for me. For me, I’m always inspired to start a new project, but the moment I need all inspiration in the word is to finish it, and making the right decisions during the course of development.
    Thank you and I’ll see you around.

  15. Hi Dan,

    You talked about how we can give up when something seems too difficult and use that as justification for the defeat. I learned from you that it doesn’t really matter how hard something is – do it anyway.

    Your life and the lessons you pass on to others is something that has inspired me and even though the challenges continue, I know that the victory is all the greater. But I also know that requires me to never back down, no matter how great or hard the challenge is.

    Thank you for being gift to all of us.

    Blue skies!!

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