Every American knows the names of Charles Lindbergh and Babe Ruth. Their success is the stuff of legends, and thousands of kids have dreamed of becoming the next great aviator or the next record-breaking home-run hitter. What many don’t know is the path they each traveled to get to where they ultimately started pinging on our radar screen, as a nation.
Lindbergh is quoted as saying he does not remember the details of his daily life growing up. His childhood was noticeably absent of parental affection, his mother and father both remaining quite formal. His parents separated when Charles was young, and neither seemed to show an overt amount of support when their son chose to move in the direction of aviation. By the time Charles made his trans-Atlantic flight which rocketed his name into fame, his father had died, and his mother could not bring herself to even give him a pre-flight hug, in spite of many believing he would not make it to land alive.
Babe Ruth was dropped off by his father at an orphanage-style reform school for boys at the tender age of seven. Only two of the eight siblings born into his family survived. His mother died when he was very young, and his father followed before Ruth reached adulthood. He spent twelve years living at the school, where his visitors were rare, sometimes hitting a two-year stretch with none.
These men, two of the greatest names in our history, certainly two of the biggest names of their generation, were hardly a safe bet if you were an onlooker during their young lives. Both were lacking parental support and came from homes which were cold at best, unstable at worst, and had all the indicators of juvenile delinquents. If anyone had a valid excuse to never reach full potential, it could reasonably be one of these boys.
Yet in spite of their less than stellar beginnings, Charles Lindbergh and Babe Ruth forged ahead, exceeding all expectations; it made me wonder what dreams we instill and encourage in our youth today, especially those who come from what we consider less-privileged demographics.
So what’s your excuse?
Rather than pointing out their lack, Lindbergh and Ruth did what those looking on could never have imagined: they rose above a life-stunting childhood and became the role models they did not find in their fathers. Letting nothing stand in their way, they pursued their dreams and attained excellence in their chosen fields. Using the gifts they were born with and the skills they acquired, they are now household names almost a hundred years after their “big moments”.
So I ask again: What’s your excuse? What reasons do you list off as obstacles too large to overcome? What chains are holding you back? Lack of resources or opportunity? No proper role models? No one supporting your dream? Born into the wrong family, wrong income bracket, wrong geographic location or time era? Could it be fear, perhaps?
Whatever seemingly plausible excuse I come up with doesn’t hold water when held up next to the examples of “Lucky Lindy” and “The Babe”. No matter what lies of inadequacy we’ve been believing about our past or our present, nothing will be more inspiring than facing the truth of our future, which is simply this:
It hasn’t been decided yet.
Repeat that to yourself: My future has not yet been decided. If necessary, write it out in all caps, and then underline it. Read it everyday.
Then go live it. Live it large, with a scrawling signature, bold and limitless. And far beyond the perks of potentially becoming a familiar household name and being the next generation’s hero, you will be able to experience the adventure, knowing that you gave it all you had, and truly led a life worth living.