The first time that I was ever put in the category of being one in a million was back in high school. I was 15 years-old and talking to a guidance counselor about the chances of playing Division I baseball in the U.S. He told me that the chances were very slim because US coaches didn't really come to Canada to recruit; they know that our season is really short and we aren’t prepped in school to take the college entrance exams like US student-athletes. The conversation was filled with consistently discouraging information. At the time, I didn’t know if he was testing me to see how strongly I wanted to pursue the dream or if he was just being honest. Or both. I asked him what he thought my chances were of getting a scholarship to play NCAA Division I baseball. He said simply, “One in a million.”
So you’re saying there’s a chance. . .
The odds didn’t deter me. In fact, the phrase “one in a million” stuck with me in a good way and later became a sign for me of which people I should connect with. In fact, my first big connection came that following winter when my dad took me to a baseball camp down in Florida. Fortunately for me, the camp wasn’t well-attended which meant that I got to spend a lot of time with the lead instructor, former Major League Baseball outfielder Ron LeFlore. LeFlore played six seasons with the Detroit Tigers before being traded to the Montreal Expos. He retired as a Chicago White Sox in 1982. And now here he was at this camp with only a handful of players, one of which was me.
One day when we were eating lunch, one of the instructors said, “Ron, tell them about the movie they made about you.” Ron just shook his head--he didn’t want to talk about it. But the instructor kept prodding. He looked over at us players and said, “The movie is called One in a Million.”
I looked over at Ron. That was my phrase--this must be my guy. Finally, he relented and told us his story; he was discovered by a scout when he was in prison and after making it to the major leagues, they made a movie about it all.
I spent the rest of the camp learning from Ron and got to spend more time with him later that summer when he came up to Canada to run a baseball camp that my parents had put together. Three years later, I ended up walking on at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona and by the end of my freshman year, I became a scholarship player for their NCAA Division 1 baseball team.
Ron and I can beat the odds--and so can you, regardless of who you are, where you come from or where you are at in life. Here are a few key steps to take as you pursue your one in a million dream:
1. Be honest with yourself
When most people say this, what they mean is, “Be honest with yourself: Do you really have what it takes?” But that’s not what I mean. What I mean is, is this truly what you want most in life? Or are you doing this because of the pressure you feel from others or the accolades you have been given by others? In other words, who are you doing this for? If you are doing this for yourself, then when the going gets tough, the passion to persevere will come from within you to carry you through. If you are just trying to appease someone or riding the momentum of other people’s encouragement, then you won’t have that inner drive necessary to beat the odds. First and foremost, make sure the dream you’re chasing is truly your own.
2. Set Measurable Goals
Dreams need deadlines if they are going to ever see the light of day, so set goals that you can measure and be accountable to. This will give you a way to keep track of your progress and keep you moving forward. It will also give you a way to pinpoint milestones and celebrate them. These celebrations are key to keeping your stamina up through what can often be the mundane, tedious and menial steps on your thousand-mile journey. If you want help with this stage, connect with my friend, Dan Blackburn. He’s great at helping people with big dreams put a plan with measureable goals in place.
3. Build A Network of Friends not Fans
Fans are great for encouragement, but they aren’t a good gauge of how you are really doing. They are often fickle and waiver between flattery and judgement. The key to this step is to reach out and connect with like-minded people who have similar goals or are also trying to achieve things that are against the odds. They will “get you” and provide you with more balanced and healthy feedback as you work towards your goals. Once you have a good network of these kinds of friends in place, carefully select a smaller group of them and invite them into your inner circle (3-5 friends).
4. Declare your Dream
Once you’ve owned the dream, put goals in place and surrounded yourself with a good network of friends, go public with your dream. Declaration is a powerful way to take your dream to the next level (as long as you have done the other steps first). Your words create your world, so be brave and start speaking your dream into reality!
5. Be Ready
Don’t get ready--be ready. At all times. Because you never know who is watching. Remember, Ron was discovered in one of the most unlikely places ever--prison. It goes to show that your big break can come at any moment and regardless of what may seem to be unfavorable circumstances. No matter how meager the atmosphere you are currently in, your situation isn’t what’s important--it’s your attitude and focus. If you maintain a strong work ethic, stay hopeful and passionate, and keep working on your goals, you will catch people’s attention. Often, the person who can give you the biggest break of your life is watching you when you’re not even aware. So be ready and anticipate good things. Remember, you’re one in a million, so start thinking like it and acting like it!
Feel free to post your dream here or let me know how this advice is working for you. Good luck!