“Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start.”
~ Nido Qubein
Dr. Qubein is a businessman, motivational speaker and President of High Point University in North Carolina. Since 1974, he has given more than 5,000 presentations and penned more than a dozen books on leadership, sales, communication and other related topics.
I found the first part of this quote motivating and comforting at the same time. In saying that your present situation does not determine your future gives me pause. Is this what I have always thought? I have to admit that as a writer, I look at the present and become disheartened. Sales of my books and hits on my website could be greatly improved! That is only a problem if I see this present circumstance as the foreshadowing of tomorrow’s. Unfortunately, I instinctively look at it in that way; yet I see that it is wrong – it is defeatist.
“You are your own worst enemy!” How many times have we heard these words… and how many times have we failed to take heed? I have spoken before, in this forum, about a person’s dreams and goals. I see a dream as a state or a place where I want to arrive, and goals as the intermediate steps I take to get to my dream. What am I without a dream? I am a being without purpose drifting through each day, blowing with the prevailing winds, and going nowhere fast. More importantly, without a dream, I’m not a happy camper.
The nature of my dream matters not! My dream could be to become a successful writer. Or perhaps my dream is more basic than that… to become the kind of loving man who will leave this world a much better place. What if my dream is to become rich and famous? As I said, it doesn’t matter – your dream is YOURS, and no one needs to approve it or judge it, except… you. It is yours. Embrace it and then chase it!
Dr. Qubein goes on to advise us that our present is merely our starting point. This idea brings me as much discomfort as comfort! You see, I realize that there is a lot of hard work to be done if I am to realize my dream. This is comforting in that it is within my power to take the necessary steps to be successful. Yet, on the other hand, I’m not thirty years old – I’m more than twice that age. Aren’t these my golden years? Aren’t I supposed to be able to sit back after a successful first career and just sip martinis while enjoying the sunset? Not if I have a dream.
I do have a dream. It lights up my mind, inspires my heart and fires my gut. It makes me feel like a kid again! I love this feeling best of all, even though it takes me out of my comfort zone. But that is the nature of the quest. When you chase after a dream, you find yourself in new circumstances, facing new challenges – and old demons – who woke up from their slumber and decided to play once more. Chasing my dreams always meant struggling with deep-seated fears of failure and self-doubt. So be it… another battle… another victory.
“You are the master of your own destiny!” Dr. Quebein’s quote above brings to mind these words as well. When I accept my dream – that means I have internalized it and made it my quest – I am in the driver’s seat. It doesn’t mean I’m alone, far from it. Even if I have to do all of the heavy lifting myself, I have my most trusted friends as sounding-boards, advisors and cheer leaders. In that respect, my dream is shared. With that support, I plan every step, meet every obstacle, revise the plan when necessary and keep moving forward.
My dream is my own and I’m glad for it. I see around me too many older people who seem lost and unhappy. I don’t want to drift through the rest of my life. I want to feel alive – to experience the fears and doubts. I accept the frustration that obstacles incur. I’m excited by the rush from the encouragement I receive and the exertion of the battle well fought. I crave the exquisitely sweet taste of victory. This is living! I’m sixty-four… not dead!