I must admit, I'm not a huge country music fan. But, the chance to spend an evening at a concert always makes me happy. And, often I'm introduced to new talent that I would have never heard (you know, those pre-opening and opening acts). So, when someone has an extra ticket I'm in.
Jimmie Allen is an up and coming country music "wanna be." And, for all of these "wanna be"s that I have heard over the years, Allen struck a chord with me a couple of weeks ago. He opened for Scottie McCreery in a standing room only (literally we had all been standing there for an hour and 45 minutes shoulder to shoulder when he came on) venue. Everyone was rolling their eyes with a "We came here to see Scotty not spend two hours listening to someone else" thought evident on their minds, but he got our attention quickly. Now, this is not an endorsement of Allen (although if you like country music you will want to check him out), but some thoughts about how his climb to "fame" is a lesson we all need to learn and to teach our children.
One of the headlines for Nov. 19 was "JIMMIE ALLEN MAKES HISTORY AS FIRST BLACK ARTIST TO LAUNCH CAREER WITH NO. 1 DEBUT SINGLE ON COUNTRY RADIO." Sounds good. But, at the concert he told us his story of what it took to launch his career. He didn't drive into Nashville, call a record company, record his first song and poof, he's a star.
Allen moved to Nashville in 2007. He lived in his car the first few years, sending money to his mom in Delaware to help her. He often worked two to three jobs at fast food restaurants, a gym, and retailers to keep his head above water and to help his mom. He would do his laundry in the gym where he was working. He auditioned for America's Got Talent and American Idol and was cut before he ever made it onstage. He didn't sign his first publishing deal until 2016. He told us how his dream kept him alive, pushing him to do whatever it took to be able to pursue his dream of "making it" in country music.
Many of us have dreams. Our children have dreams. But, we have lost sight on the fact that if a dream is important to us we will work hard to achieve it. And, in our losing sight of this fact, we have failed to prepare out children to dream big but know that the road is not going to be easy.
Think about your dream. How much time are you spending pursuing it? Or, have you become complacent and lost sight of the dream or put it on a back burner until all of the stars are right? I ran into an old friend the other night who is about my age. She has gone back to school to become a nurse. She always wanted to be a nurse, and now she is pursuing that dream. It's not easy. Think what an example she is setting for both of her children who are in college.
As faculty athletic rep for Faulkner, I see athletes on a regular basis who are "going to the big league." Max has already promised me a first class plane ticket and a seat behind the dugout for his first game in the majors. I hope he makes it. He will be the second one in my 16 years as FAR to get that far. We have many that get "drafted," but they soon realize the hard work and years of sacrifice, working side jobs, and putting in hours and hours on a bus travelling from city to city and just give up.
I wish I had the quick answer for how to teach your children not to quit. But, there is no easy fix. However, there are some areas where we can help our children learn this skill.
How Do We Teach Our Children About Dreams and Persistence?
First, if you have a dream, pursue it. Not just dabble in it, but pursue it. I often say I want to run a 5K, but words mean nothing. What am I doing to pursue that dream? Do I make the work required a part of my day? Do I get up an hour earlier every morning to run? What sacrifice am I making to achieve that goal? I'll be honest, I would like to run a 5K, but my actions prove I really don't have a dream to run this type of race. Until I commit to the dream, until I commit to pursuing that dream with a passion, until I commit to the extra hours and the sacrifice of time, the dream means nothing. So, it's really not a dream. It's a fantasy. Model persistence and sacrifice for your children. Your children see where you spend your time. That's where your passion is.
Second, let your children see you fail, and teach them how to fail. I'm amazed at how many people quit when the first sign of adversity comes. Life is messy. Your children need to understand this idea and learn how to deal with it. Instead, we want to fix everything for them. But, that is leaving them with a false sense of self-worth. There is nothing wrong with self-worth, but it becomes a problem when you don't understand that the world is not going to revolve around you. When we continually clean up messes for our children we aren't teaching them about hard work and overcoming. We aren't teaching them to pick themselves up and keep moving forward. We aren't teaching them that a dream requires sacrifice.
So, next time you have a "dream" ask yourself:
The answers are up to you. But, you need to know that people are watching, especially your children. So, follow your dream with a passion. Do what it takes to pursue that dream, even if it fails. Chances are you are going to fail many times. Allen had lots of set backs before his first success. But, he didn't hightail it out of Nashville and head back to Delaware. He sacrificed, worked hard, and pursued the life he wanted.
Joshua Medcalf once said, "Don't believe the myths. Greatness is far from sexy, it is dirty, hard work, usually required to be done in the dark, when no one is watching, while your dreams are so far off."
You are the primary role model for your children. They will model themselves after you. Teach them to dream. Then teach them to pursue those dreams with a passion. Finally, teach them that this pursuit requires hard work and LOTS of sacrifice. But, if they really want the dream they will be willing to make whatever sacrifice is necessary.
What dream are you pursuing today? What sacrifices are you making? Share with us so that we can pray for you.