On a plane, I was recently inspired by American Way Magazine. Apparently, I am a complete and total sap. I might have wiped a tear from my eye reading the stories.

So here you go … some fuel for your equipping tanks lest our kids (or we) think that everything in life comes easy. It involves hard work – and often failure!

The first is from Kurt Warner who has been tapped to host USA Network’s first reality show, The Moment. Because “life is full of opportunities to try again.” [see also: don’t give up, if you fall get up, keep striving even when dreams seem ridiculously out of reach.]

If you aren’t familiar with Kurt’s story, check it out. This Super-Bowl-ring-wearing young man was for sure the poster child for “Least Likely. ” But even while working the graveyard shift stocking groceries, he never gave up his dream.

“You don’t want anybody to hand you anything on a plate,” Kurt says looking back. “You just want the opportunity.”

Now that’s the American Dream folks. Not today’s mantra of “I’m owed” or “I deserve” or “Give Me – NOW!”

Kurt’s new day job: second chances at forgotten dreams. “Some of them (the ordinary dreamers) might say, ‘Oh, wow, they’re giving me my dream job.’ No, we are not. We’re not giving anybody anything except a second chance to prove themselves,” Warner explains. “Nobody said to me, ‘We’re going to give you a Super Bowl.’ They said, ‘We’re giving you an opportunity – what are you going to do with it?”

His question to these ordinary folks, “Do you have what it takes? … That’s what it’s all about. Everything out there looks so much easier when you’re sitting there on your couch. Dreams aren’t easy. Dreams are challenges.”


Are we encouraging our kids to dream?

Are we grooming them to seek?

Are we equipping them to embrace the challenges?

Or are we, with all the best and loving intentions, cultivating mediocrity?

Next: critically acclaimed actress Taraji P. Henson (2005 Hustle & Flow, and an Oscar nod for her turn as Brad Pitt’s adoptive mother in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, currently on CBS’s Person of Interest)

When asked by AW reporter, “ Is it true that you started out in electrical engineering?

Hesons responded: I applied to Duke Ellington School for the Arts and didn’t get in.

When you’re young, you don’t understand that rejection. My fear took over [so I switched to engineering]. When I failed [sidebar: WHEN SHE FAILED!!  Yes I’m yelling.] I called my dad, crying. And he said, “I needed you to see for yourself that that was not what you were supposed to be doing.”  That’s when I auditioned for [the Department of Theater Arts] Howard University, and from then on out I was singing, dancing and acting.

And from Michael Buble:

“That Buble has made it to this point is no accident. He grew up working summers on his father’s fishing boat and performing at nightclubs whenever his grandfather, a plumber, could sweet-talk an owner into giving the 16-year-old [sidebar: HARD-LABOR-SUMMER-JOB-WORKING 16-YEAR-OLD!!! Ok, so I might be yelling again.] Sinatra sound-alike a set in exchange for plumbing work. After years of performing at weddings, malls, conventions and hotel lounges, he eventually signed to David Foster’s label …” And the rest is history.

The road is paved with ingenuity. The road is paved with discovering our kids’ giftedness. Then the road with skinned knees. The road is paved with perseverance. See also: American Idol winner Candice Glover. She never gave up. On her third attempt, that amazingly talented girl whose road was paved with rejection in previous seasons, won the whole enchilada. Then she sang from her heart, finger pointing heavenward, lyrics that she helped write:

And when I fall
It don’t matter that I’m not perfect
I am beautiful
I’m not alone
And in his eyes I’m so worth it
I’m worth every tear
And every scar
And even when you say I’m not
He says I’m beautiful

Hope that fills your sails on a crazy May day.

Thanks for walking the road with me.


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