Welcome to Big Dreams.Com!

"Do or do not. There is no try," is often quoted— Yoda, Episode 5 (Empire Strikes Back) but the next lines are equally powerful.

As Yoda raises the ship from a swamp with his mind, Luke bursts, "I don't believe it," to which Yoda responds, "That is why you fail."

Until we destroy our limiting fears and beliefs, we will never know what joys lay just beyond. 


True "success" is to align your legacy with destiny, in this lifetime




Part II: Perfection reveals Excellence

Once we have a clear understanding of perfection and excellence -- that perfection is an ideal and excellence is an actual result -- the next step is to make perfection the goal in all things, big and small.

“Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.” --Vince Lombardi

Huh? Perfection? Isn’t this a contradiction since we can never reach an ideal?

Not at all.

Just consider the alternative: how can excellence be the central goal?

Having “excellence” alone as a goal would be like driving a golf ball onto a green without a pin. What part of the green would be deemed to be most excellent? To where would we putt once there? How would we know if we were even on the right green?

Rather, excellence can be defined by its proximity to perfection; how actual results measure up to the ideal or, by this analogy, excellence in golf is the distance to the pin.

Indeed, without the benchmark of perfection, excellence is immeasurable, unknowable, and unobtainable. It is essential to understand that perfection is the means to achieve excellence, not the end in itself. 

It’s our divine right to align our being with perfection-- the ideal. Yet, then we must hold excellence in reverence -- the result -- for that is as close as we can humanly get to the divine on this day. Pursue Perfection; Revere Excellence.

Here's how Pro Beach volleyball player Saralyn Smith put it in "For Love of the Game:"

"True athletes understand the tears a player sheds when her performance touches greatness. When you experience a moment of perfection in your sport—that’s the moment when time slows down and you feel moved by a greater power than yourself."


A brush with perfection is a glimpse of the divine; momentary, unpredictable, and fleeting. A hole-in-one, for example, is a majestic experience but unrepeatable, and certainly not something we can expect on any given golf outing.

The far more common outcome is an "excellent" drive, landing close enough to the pin to easily putt. Humility accepts. Expectation rejects.

Purpose, Perspective, and Gratitude are the three keys to using perfection as a tool:

  1. Purpose: Perfection reveals Excellence, so having an idealized goal is not optional; it is of the essence.
  2. PerspectivePerfection is a means, not an end. As long as you know that perfection is a tool -- not an outcome-- you will accept your best efforts on this day.
  3. Gratitude: Revere Excellence in yourself and others, for it is a glimpse of the divine and the source of never ending joy.

"Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence." -- Vince Lombardi

Perfection is commonly used in factories to maintain quality control in a program called "Zero Defects."Realizing "zero defects" is, of course, humanly impossible, yet holding the vision of perfection, i.e. “zero defects,” drives excellence; diminishing the instances of defects to almost zero.

Think about the mechanics. "Zero defects" just sets the bar -- the ideal -- to zero, not the reality. That ensures that any and all defects get noticed, and that each is cause for engagement and continuous improvement-- not a reason to cry!

Pursue Perfection; Revere Excellence.










You're driving here!

Life is truly what you make of it, so dream big, steadfastly believe, labor with love, and create the life of your dreams; Dream, Believe, Love, Create.

The Divine Elements.


Hockey Lessons from “Outliers”

The book, “Outliers; The Story of Success“ by Malcolm Gladwell, has inspired me for a number of years and, if you haven’t already done so, read it for the many success stories drawn from hockey and beyond. 
In Outliers, Gladwell asserts that birth month has a huge impact on success in hockey and other sports. Yet, he also makes it clear that there is nothing pre-ordained in the DNA of kids born in favorable birth months; it’s just that early success accumulates or “snowballs.”
In hockey, kids with 6-9 months more ice time at the mite/squirt level-- those born in January vs. November-- fair better at tryouts and make better teams. Better teams lead to even more ice time, better coaching, and higher expectations.
Year after year, those best prepared from the previous year make better teams. They are the ones invited to clinics, showcases, and elite spring training camps to train with the very coaches that help select next year's AAA/AA team. Anyone else has to find a way to break into the success cycle. 
In general, Gladwell asserts that success results when three things happen:
  • Good fortune leads to the opportunity to work hard (Gladwell's examples: Bill Gates, Bill Joy, The Beatles, Hockey players with birthdays near the “cut off” date)
  • Expectations are high, high performance follows (Gladwell's examples: Kipp school, The Beatles)
  • Community/Parental Intervention; It's the rule, not the exception (Gladwell's examples: Bill Gates, Gladwell’s own Mother)

Inclusiveness breeds success

For more kids to “snowball” with hockey success, rinks need only provide all the “snow” they want by allowing and promoting cross over.

For instance, teams may have mandatory skills practice where all team members are expected to attend. When those practices are open to kids from adjacent levels, magic happens. 

When A-level players are invited -- indeed encouraged -- to attend the AA skills clinic, they directly benefit from the extra ice time (hard work) and higher skill levels (high expectations). Likewise, when AA-level players attend an A skills clinic they not only get the additional practice but raise the skill level (high expectations) as well.


The key is to promote cross-over so that doesn't take an act of courage for those kids with drive and commitment to venture out of their own age group or slated level; it’s invited and expected.

It may seem that a few statements on a flyer or some kind words from a coach will do the trick, but that fails to address the power struggles. The reality is that the kids take false pride in their assigned levels and ridicule the upstarts. "Hey, what are you doing here!" when they show up. Or, "This is for AA players," when they walk into the wrong locker room. 

We're not dealing with mature adults here-- and that may apply to some of their parents as well! Unless the coaches mandate and supervise player integration, the kids will self-segregate along their social pecking order. Don't expect to happen organically.

Further, safety is an huge issue. This in not the time for higher-level players to show off their superior boarding skills. At every opportunity coaches should remind the players, "Nobody gets hurt around here." Players who violate this protocol should be ejected on the spot to set the right tone, or what are we teaching here?  

Finally, let's not be naive, thinking the rinks natually assign kids to the right teams. They don't! With politics and the "daddy coaching" that goes on, most teams are lucky to have 60-70% of their teams at the right level anyway, so cross-over can counter-act imbalances and become a proving ground for both skills and leadership. Who really wants it!!??
Regardless, not all kids will take advantage of the additional practice, but those who "want it" will chip away at the 10,000 hours Gladwell suggests it takes for success. Yet, it’s not sufficient that our children just reach some magic number of hockey hours – they need to do it at the right level by the right age. "Wait until next year" is not an option when progress is of the essence.
If they are not ready to play AA/AAA Midget by age 16, they fail to get that experience.... If they don’t make Juniors by an early age, they will hardly be scouted for college.... And if they fail to be recruited by a college team by age 21, they lose eligibility by continuing to play. It is not a marathon, but a sprint to accumulate 10,000 hours of ice time, in time!
Teams at the famed prep school, Shattuck St. Marys hold practice five to seven days a week and play 50-75 games a year. That's what it takes to produce championships and over 40 NHL draft picks, including Blue Jacket's defenseman Jack Johnson and Penguin's captain Sid Crosby. 
Teams need policies that promote and encourage rigorous play and practice – way beyond the 2-3 hours of team practice per week -- to foster excellence in hockey at all levels. It’s not simply that “more the better.” It’s that: more is better; sooner is better; and better (level) is better.
In addition, elite conditioning is essential. Mike Perkins of JSerra Prep observed, "The player's I've seen move on were all athletics, not just hockey players."

When all else fails... Intervene

Gladwell is with Bon Jovi on this one. The lyrics go "Luck ain't even lucky; gotta make your own breaks." When bad luck derails progress, parents and/or the community should feel compelled to intervene.
There's a great story in Outliers about a middle-school computer lab that ran out of funds. It would have shut down but for the parents, who jumped into action and raised some cash. Not only did it remain open but, through a twist of fate, became one of the first ever labs to use real-time keyboard entry-- at a time (1960's) when university professors were still punching cards!
Maybe this intervention doesn't seem like a big deal, but we'll never know. It's just that this action, in that middle school, by those parents permitted the young Bill Gates to follow his passion for computers when, otherwise, his fires may have gone out.
Not every kid is going to make the best hockey team or play at Shattuck St. Marys, but the 10k-by-21 clock is running. Intervention is a twist on Yogi Berra's line, "When you come to a fork in the road, take it."
As parents, when you find your player or team on the wrong path, intervene, i.e. "When you're down the wrong fork, don't take it; take charge." There should always be a path to more ice time and higher level play that will keep those fires burning.
Yet, there's a limit. We have a very large sign on our mirror as a daily reminder, "You gotta want it." This is as much to remind the parents that we can never "want it" more then our kids do.

Make it a great day!


Why not just "have a nice day?"

It's lame.

If it were simply a matter of picking the day you want, of course, you would "have" the nice one. But, that's not an option. Rather, you either take command of your day or suffer the effects of whatever comes your way. My preference is always to "Make it a great day!" 



It All Starts with a Dream


Consider this.

Some say you should do "what you're good at." Others say you should do "what you love." Most say you should do something that represents both. Yet, if that was the whole truth, we'd all have jobs.

Who would dream of something new and think, "why not?" Who would follow their intuition into the unknown? Who would push themselves out of their comfort zone and attempt something never done before?

I say follow your dreams-- even if you're not good at it, the road ahead is hard, or you're ill prepared at this point in time. There is always a place for someone with destiny on their side. You'll find a way. Live it!