Today’s post is the featured article from the September 2011 issue of The Front Porch Newsletter. If you would like to automatically receive The Front Porch e-newsletter on the last Thursday of each month just click here to sign-up for your complimentary subscription.
Day-dreaming is one thing. Deciding to follow your dream is another. In my days at Arthur Andersen, I would often counsel our professional staff that it was paradoxically best to pursue a new opportunity when you are loving where you are. I reasoned that in doing so, it guaranteed that you were running to something rather than running away from something. Little did I know, I would eventually follow my own advice. People have often asked me about what was my most difficult challenge in pursuing my dream to become a professional speaker. My reply has always been the same … having to leave behind a firm, position and people I loved to pursue it. That was September 1996.
It is exactly 15 years later. It seemed fitting to stop for a moment and reflect.
More than pursuing a dream, I remember it felt more like being called to adventure. And “adventure” has proven to be a more fitting analogy. Dreams sound so, well, dreamy. You know … perfect. Adventures are full of surprises. Laced with challenges. You arrive in a dream and live happily ever after … unless, of course, you are in the midst of a nightmare. I suppose you can wake-up from a dream. In an adventure there is no escape. You simply live in the middle of the adventure day-in and day-out. Adventures have a way to form you and transform you if you let them. There are no givens … but adventures will give you more than you could ever imagine.
Adventures are rarely straight paths. More than likely, they provide you twists and turns … with highs and lows. It’s what adventures are made of. An adventure won’t cling to you … you have to cling to it. More specifically, you need to hang on for dear life. An adventure never lets you get comfortable, but will teach you to get comfortable being uncomfortable … if you are willing to be its student.
Most importantly, an adventure teaches you to take nothing for granted and to be grateful for everything and everyone along the way.
And as I reach this 15th year milestone I am certainly grateful.
I am most grateful for the people who have believed in me and my work. There are those who have hired me, encouraged me, prayed for me and inspired me. Each of them has been with me on this adventure. And I am deeply grateful for each and every one of them.
Adventures are similar to books. They have numerous chapters and while the chapters continue to change, each chapter builds upon all that has come before. So have gone the years of this adventure.
As I turn the page to another chapter of this adventure, I look forward to what awaits. We live in incredibly interesting times. Like an adventure, little can be taken for granted. But I also believe we live in a time of incredible possibilities if we choose to find our core.
Adventures demand numerous things from you … but nothing more than a dose of courage and your complete trust. Those who have helped me along this journey have given me both. Adventures give the gift of vulnerability … and leave you with no doubt you will need help along the way.
What is best about an adventure is when you feel the best is yet to come.
I begin this 16th year extremely excited and fully engaged in speaking with organizations who want to strengthen their core values. If there was ever a time we needed to return to our core … this would be it!
When I was first thinking about leaving my career at Arthur Andersen, to follow my “dream” into the world of professional speaking, I prayed I would meet someone in the speaking profession who could and would authentically give me a real inside look into that life. Those prayers were answered when I met Kevin Freiberg. Kevin and Jackie had me to their home, in San Diego, more than once as I pondered the decision. One day, after spending the whole day with me, Kevin said, “John, a lot of people ask me about a potential career in speaking and I tell about 95% of them not to do it. You are in that other 5%.” Yet, in his caring honesty, he also told me it would be much more of an adventure than a dream.
This Sunday night, Kevin and I are scheduled to have dinner together here in Chicago. Fifteen years later there is reason to celebrate everything that has defined that adventure.