There comes a point in most Adam Sandler films, where the odds are massively stacked against him at a critical moment in his life. Every time, without fail, a small guy stands up in the crowd - always played by Rob Schneider in one of many guises, and shouts out an encouraging “YOU CAN DO IT!”
Without fail, he always does. And you know what? He is completely right. In fact, I genuinely believe that you can do anything if you put your mind to it. Now that isn’t to say that if I decided that I wanted to speak Spanish, that I’d wake up the next day being able to. Life has taught me that isn’t possible. However, it is reasonable to assume that if I chose to and was dedicated enough, I could indeed learn the language.
A friend invited me to his World cup fantasy Football league once, almost as a joke entry and to increase the number of players. To explain, I have zero interest in the sport. I don’t follow it, wouldn’t have a clue who is in each team, and don’t care who wins or loses. I didn’t stand a chance, right? But a challenge is a challenge. So for the length of the world cup, I studied the players and statistics of their performance. In fact, I watched every single game. Not because I cared about the outcome, but simply to make a point. As it turns out, one of my friends - a lifelong fan of the sport, rightly won the competition… but only just. In fact, by the closing whistle, I was a single point behind him and had beaten everyone else. While I clearly had him worried, he later dismissed it as a fluke and said that I’d never be able to maintain it for an entire football season. Oh really? Long story short - I beat him (and everyone else) by more than 100 points a year later. He doesn’t invite me to play any more, hehe. :-)
I’ve met a lot of people over the years that say “oh, I can’t do that”. One example is drawing. Now, I have been drawing for as long as I can remember. I truly love it and studied it through to degree level. I find it to be something that is challenging, rewarding and enjoyable in equal measure. But it is a skill that you definitely get more out of, the more you put in. I am by no means the best artist in the world, but I know that if I try, I can continue to improve.
I am happy to share my passion for art with anyone interested. In fact, in the past I have gone to parties and family gatherings, only to end up spending several hours drawing anyone that asks me to. To me, they are sometimes only simple drawings, but some people have told me years later that they actually framed and displayed my doodles in their house. When we had to go to a wedding preparation course thing in America, we were asked to draw a picture of what we wanted our future to be like. For some reason, a restaurant owner who was getting married liked it so much that she asked if she could have it to put up at work, in exchange for a free meal for two any time. I was very flattered and of course gave her the drawing. I never did get that meal though - just wanting the drawing was more than enough of a reward. Another time I ended up drawing a professional cartoonist in Paris, who had offered to pay ME 15 euros for it. Are you kidding me? The fact that this talented guy would even consider it worth having was enough.
So, it has always surprised me when I hear someone watch me draw and say “I can’t draw”. Oh yes you can, you just don’t know how yet! I am such a strong believer of this that I always accept their challenge and do something that I call the “Duck test”. What I do is get a piece of paper, draw a line down the center, and then get 2 pens. I tell them to simply copy everything that I do. For the next few minutes, they easilly mimic me as I draw a few simple circles here, a few lines there. Then we add a few more lines and realisation sets in that they have just drawn Daffy Duck. It may not be perfect, but they have already seen that they can do it.
Too many people are too quick to admit defeat in life and think that their situation can never get better. They probably think that they weren’t born with the magic powers that musicians, writers, sportsmen and television personalities seem to have. But the truth is that all of these people are incredibly focused and driven to be the best at what they do. They still had to go through all the same processes that everyone else would to get better. Talent is learned and you can always get more of them and improve.
It’s no good just sitting on the sofa waiting for a millionaire to offer you the job of a lifetime, or pouring the little money that you have on lottery tickets, where the chances of winning are so incredibly small that they’d be better just saving that £1 every week.
Life is far too short to have regrets. I try to actively follow all of my dreams, meet and surround myself with the people that inspire me (hopefully inspiring others along the way!), work my way through my own personal to-do list, and meet every challenge head on. I exhaust myself trying. If life gives you lemons - sell them on ebay! If you reach a roadblock in life where someone says “no”, that just means you have to work that bit harder to turn it in to a yes. If something is physically possible, then it can always be achieved with the right mindset. Ultimately, most people are out for themselves, so you should create your own opportunities, not wait for other people to give you them.
So please believe in and be yourself. Don’t settle for working in a warehouse or checkout until you retire (unless you want to of course), when you have always dreamed of being an actor or running your own cake business. Put in that time and dedication, and I promise you that you can and will achieve your goals. So start today. Right now.