Close the Gap

Everyone has a dream.  Dreams can be a motivator to spur us forward or simply an escape from the mundane trappings of day-to-day life.  But, if the dream is to be a motivator how does it become reality? How do you make your dream a reality?

This was a question I had to pose to myself recently in order to better guide my son. My seventeen year old son, Tyler, is on the cusp of graduation, “the big launch” into adulthood.  I’ve had several conversations with him over the past year as to what his future holds. Mostly, we’ve discussed careers suited to his level of academics. He is smart. Scary smart. We’ve talked about the value of the degrees from the different local universities.  We’ve even discussed alternate education paths, but we never really discussed athletics.

Tyler received an invitation to play for a showcase baseball team this summer.  We met with the coaches and the General Manager, Mr. Howard.  Mr. Howard gave, what I’m certain is, his standard parent speech.  But, nonetheless, his words struck a cord with me. That night Mr. Howard told the small group of parents; “If you’re here today you are telling me your son wants to play college baseball.”

What?! Is that what I’m saying? Is that even true? At that moment I wasn’t really sure.  I mean, my son loves the game.  My husband and I love watching him play the game, but are we really committed to playing college ball? I hadn’t really thought about it in those terms.  I’ve never really asked him. Little boys (and little ladies) always have BIG dreams of playing sports, but, am I really saying he WANTS to play college baseball?

I spent the remainder of the week and the first tournament contemplating the depth of the words Mr. Howard had spoken. Are we here having fun or are we here working toward a goal? Then I did what every good parent does… I called a family meeting (and all the kids rolled their eyes and said; “Ugh!”).

Since it was my meeting I went first (Hey, call your own meeting if you want to go first!). I showed Tyler a scale.  The scale was a series of numbers.  The numbers ranged from 1 to 10. One being the low end of the spectrum and 10 being the highest or best side of the spectrum. I asked him a simple question; “On this scale of 1 to 10, what is your dream of playing college baseball?” He responded; “It’s an 11.”  Wow! Off the scale.  I hadn’t known that.  I suppose I’d always semi-dismissed it as a little kid’s dream. The problem is that my little kid is not so little anymore (although in my heart he will always just be three). I then asked him; “On a scale of 1 to 10 what is your dream to play baseball for Vanderbilt University?”  “Oh, Mom, it’s off the chart.  It’s a 100.” My heart squeezed and a lump gathered in the back of my throat. Then Mom got real. I asked Tyler; “On the same scale, how committed would you say you’ve been to these dreams?” My son, ever honest, circled the number 7.

We spent the remainder of that evening discussing the “gap” between 7 and 11 and the greater gap that exists between 7 and 100.  We discussed how time can steal our dreams when we don’t maintain focus of the goals. We discussed what the gap is made up of…. planning, smaller set goals, time management, hard work, commitment, education, sacrifice, and more hard work.  Much, much more hard work.

Dreams are just that… dreams.  Dreams can become goals, if we choose them to be.  You can’t reach a destination if you don’t know where you are going. You’ll only continue to wander aimlessly. In order to turn your dream into a reality you must first identify it and then you must close the gap.

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