Having the Passion to Keep Holding On to Your Dream

Would you hold on to a dream for 40 years?

Hungry for that life message of never, ever give up… and I didn’t.”

Those words came through so eloquently from Diana Nyad.

East Coast evening news broadcasts come on here in Saudi Arabia the following morning. So when I heard this quote, I was having my coffee and scanning email.I immediately stopped and looked up.

Then I heard those most famous words that framed my day and made me refocus. “Never, ever give up!” When I got to work, I printed those words out in 72 point type. When I got home, I placed them strategically throughout the house I live in. Those words rekindled my thought process and put me in another frame of mind.

Harden our resolve — or soften our determination

For 40 years, Diana Nyad held on to a dream the average person would have given up a long time ago. We all chase dreams, but I get a sense that we want to cut the lines and get closer to the front. Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonalds was 52 when he started out with a hamburger stand. Harland Sanders was retired when he sold his famous recipe for Kentucky Fried Chicken..

We all have people that we know that are looking to change careers, but would they hold onto that dream for even five years, let alone 40?

When we get out of college, we march to a different drummer. Degree in hand, we set out on our journey. But as will happen in life, we encounter road blocks, mirages and detours. These obstacles tend to either harden our resolve or soften our determination.

Passion sometimes is a fleeting thing that we have and then we lose. But passion is like a garden; it must always be watered, weeded and tilled. Just having it will not move the needle, so if you have it, what is the next step?

Going with the ultimate passion

I had a young lady that worked with me who started her life’s work as a CPA. She came to us from consulting, where she was able to move into the talent side from accounting.

She had a passion for career and talent development. Like a lot of people, she chose her career based on the pragmatic thought that there will always be a need for accounting. However once she got into it, she realized that it was just not for her.

Her ultimate passion and dream was to become a career coach and help people navigate the road of finding that career hot spot. She held on to her dream, eventually left corporate, and now Maggie Mistal is, according to CNN, “one of the nation’s best known career coaches.”

Her husband, former management consultant Craig Zabransky, eventually grew tired of being a consultant. He always had a dream to become a travel writer.

Since his work assignments were in Mexico, he decided to start a blog focusing on Mexico. Eventually he too left the grind and today he is one of the worlds best known travel writers focusing on Mexico. They are a couple the exemplifies holding on and never giving up on that dream.

Staying focused

What all this tells us is that we simply cannot give up. Regardless of what we see, put on the blinders and move on. As long as you are alive, anything is possible.

Much of the time, life is like photography; the picture you want is blurred and the solution is to make an adjustment to sharpen the focus. Once you do that, the picture you desire is there.

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Yes, that kind of adjustment only takes a few seconds, but in life, the refocus could take years. Diana Nyad spent 40 years trying to get that snapshot. I do not want to even imagine the training that went into that process of sharpening her focus.

The mornings when we wake up and question our sanity is when we have to have to push ourselves just to get out of bed, let alone train to reach our goal.

Success is not overnight

This doesn’t come easy. There is no such thing as overnight success. So many times we have heard that term, but for anyone that is on the journey, we know that kind of thinking is flawed. From the outside looking in, that is the picture that comes out.

Remember Susan Boyle? “Overnight success” was mentioned when she seemingly came out of nowhere and blew everyone away with her singing ability.

Susan was the youngest of eight surviving children, was deprived of oxygen at birth long enough to cause mild brain damage. The physical trauma created learning disabilities for the young girl. But Boyle grew up in a musical family — her father sang, and her mother sang and played the piano — and Susan found comfort in music at an early age.

From that early age until “overnight success,” Susan Boyle was sharpening her focus.

You must persist

I have always said that if success was easy, everybody would be there. But there is lots of pressure that goes along with the search for that success, and nobody ever mentions that part of the equation.

Sometimes the journey can become unbearable, but if we really want that dream to come true, we have to persist. There will always be a price to pay, a price that can be calculated in a lot of different ways — from blood, sweat, tears to time, uncertainty, and a host of other things.

Most people will not be willing to pay that price, but for the ones that do, it is like climbing your own Mount Everest.

Diana, thanks for making all of us reflect of what it means to never give up on your dream.

Ron Thomas is Managing Director, Strategy Focused Group DWC LLC, based in Dubai. He is also a senior faculty member and representative of the Human Capital Institute covering the MENA/Asia Pacific region.

He was formerly CEO of Great Place to Work-Gulf and former CHRO based in Riyadh. He holds certifications from the Human Capital Institute as Global Human Capital Strategist, Master Human Capital Strategist, and Strategic Workforce Planner.

He's been cited by CIPD as one of the top 5 HR Thinkers in the Middle East. He received the Outstanding Leadership Award for Global HR Excellence at the World Human Resources Development Congress in Mumbai, and was named as one of the 50 Most Talented Global HR Leaders in Asia

Ron's prior roles included senior HR positions with Xerox HR services, IBM, and Martha Stewart Living.

Board memberships include the Harvard Business Review Advisory Council, McKinsey Quarterly's Executive Online Panel, and HCI's Expert Advisory Council on Talent Management Strategy.

His work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Inc. Magazine, Workforce Management and numerous international HR magazines covering Africa, India and the Middle East.

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1 Comment on “Having the Passion to Keep Holding On to Your Dream

  1. Great post Ron! Thanks for the mention. I couldn’t agree more with your advice. You inspired me to never give up on my dreams when we worked together and now I make a living doing work I love. It’s not a fluke. Never giving up really does work. I don’t think we can hear that message enough. In my home I posted a quote that says “everyday holds the possibility of a miracle”. It truly does. Why not go for it!

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