Preparing For Greatness

I love movie scenes where the hero goes through a trying training period and then comes out ready for the story’s climactic challenge. Like the part in Rocky IV where Rocky goes off to the cabin in the woods to run in two feet of snow with a tree on his back. Or in Kill Bill Volume 2 where Kiddo goes to train with Pai Mei in China. She punches hard wood trees every morning over and over until the trees fear her. Remember when Luke went to the Dagobah system and learned the ways of the force from Yoda in the Empire Strikes Back? That’s my favorite Star Wars moment.

My all-time favorite training sequence starts in the first Lord of the Rings and ends in the second. It’s the epic battle where Gandalf the Grey defeats the giant Balrog monster and transforms into Gandalf the White. You can watch the fight in its glorious entirety here. The wizard battles his foe for eight straight days before vanquishing the demon monster, and then slipping into a dark near-death state. He wakes up from the transformational struggle more powerful than ever.

Today is my first day off since June 28th. In addition to my normal work load, I signed up for two concurrent summer classes, Conflict Management and Managerial Skills, and decided to chair a gala committee for my favorite non-profit, Family Life Education. July has been a transformative month for me.

I look at these periods of hard work as investments in a future me. At the same time, I recognize how much time I miss with my wife and baby boy. I struggle with this all the time.

I only have one more class left my in my MBA program, and the FLE gala project ends in September. Do I move on to the next investments in my future or do I slow down and make time for my family? Or is slowing down to spend time with my family ultimately a selfish thought? After all, the more I push myself and more I can advance my career, and the better off our family will be in the long run.

I started looking for a good Ph.D. program in Organizational Leadership for next year. The old Plato (I think) quote, “The more I know, the more I realize I know nothing,” applies here. After undergrad, I started reading a lot of self-help books like Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grown Rich and Stephen Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. My love for reading combined with the opportunities I had to lead others at twenty-one, sparked a passion for learning and developing my career. Today, I can feel a fire raging inside me. Napoleon Hill calls it a burning desire to succeed. Like my favorite characters, I feel like the chosen one, and I must work hard in preparation for my grand moment, my destined chance at greatness. Maybe I just watch too many movies.

8 thoughts on “Preparing For Greatness

  1. May I suggest you read “The power of kindness” by, Piero Ferrucci. Not because you’re not kind, because it is an inspiring book that will help guide you and will help in the understanding of the many different people you will guide.

    Keep it going!

    As always, a big fan of yours.

  2. Hi, John – – –

    Another great reflection. If I might, though, I would really, really encourage you to take some time (regularly) with your family rather than “powering through” constantly with one high-intensity learning project after another. To continue your movie quotes theme, here is one from one of my favorites, The Godfather, Part II:

    . . . before deciding to kill his brother, Fredo, Michael Corleone asks his mother “by being strong for the family, can you lose the family?”

    The “answer” comes in the final frames, as we see Michael victorious … and all alone.

    Take time for the family. You — and they — deserve it.

    Michael Brisciana

    1. Great example Mike. Everyone remembers that image from the end of the movie. That will stick with me. Thank you for your contribution and encouragement.

  3. Hey John.
    There’s a lot to learn in just being still & quiet and serving the people you love…your wife and son. Sometimes that’s when you find your ‘grand’ moment.

    My first reply to a post… so I must’ve learned something. Thank you!

  4. As you know, I took a year off after my MA before I went to Oxford. I decided to do this at the very last minute, and I’m glad I did. Because of it, I was introduced to a job I now love, and was able to save up a good amount of money towards Oxford. It was definitely worth it. Opportunities can still appear in the downtime! 🙂

  5. John,

    This is a good reflection. I agree wholeheartedly with Michael Brisciana. It was my goal in 2003 to make a career as a full time singer. I succeeded at this and, over the next 5 years was able to sing at over 700 concerts all over the country. I released 4 professional level studio albums, sang at the biggest gospel festival in the country, got a cover story on a major publication, and opened for Charlie Daniels.

    During all this time, the biggest lesson I learned was this: ‘Love’ is spelled ‘T.I.M.E.’

    I also learned that just as easily as I could schedule concerts, radio shows, and studio time, I could also schedule time with my family.

    Don Reid of the Statler Brothers is my musical hero. He once spoke that their group would schedule family time along with concerts and, no matter how big or lucrative an offer came along, they would not compromise family time. Not for anything. It’s this sort of integrity that helps one sleep better at night.

    My favorite move – Cinderella Man. If you want to be inspired by family, hard work and success, watch that.



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