Live Like Your Hair’s On Fire
“There are so many charlatans in the world of education. They teach for a couple of years, come up with a few clever slogans, build their web sites, and hit the lecture circuit. In this fast-food society, simple solutions to complex problems are embraced far too often. We can do better. I hope that people who read this book realize that true excellence takes sacrifice, mistakes, and enormous amounts of effort. After all, there are no shortcuts.”
I try to keep a book in the “mix” of my day to day life. My goal is to read one chapter, every day, over lunch. I figure in our culture of 24-hour cable news, the immediacy of the internet, and web-enabled cell phones, that if I don’t impose some sort of “old school” discipline about reading on my daily life, that it just won’t happen.
Like it or not, I don’t get through the books fast enough, and so many that I want to read continue to pile up (one of them is quoted, above). But currently, I’m reading a special kind of book. Actually, it’s the journal of one of my clients (who I won’t name to protect his identity). It’s his very personal account of his AIDS Ride. Besides being beautifully written and spectacularly illustrated, it’s bound with a section of bike tire that came from the actual bike he pedaled, the entire stretch of road between Minneapolis and Chicago. Reading it brings back so many memories of my own (and only) AIDS Ride back in 2000 — the pain, the giddy excitement, the nervousness, (did I mention the pain?). In one specific section of his journal, he describes a moment toward the beginning of his ride, being at once overwhelmed and inspired at the journey ahead. He mentions one of my good friends, Dan Pallotta, (who created the AIDS Ride) and the impact that Dan’s vision had on him, and the thousands of others. Reading his journal is like a little oasis of inspiration, a reminder of what’s possible when you simply believe.
One thing that I’ve learned from knowing Dan over the years is that great things often start small. In fact, important things almost always start small. But just because they are small does not mean they’re unimportant. I’ve learned that it’s essential when starting anything new not to lose sight of the bigger picture. So, like Dan did with the AIDS Ride: dream big. Plan big. Color outside the lines. A bicycle ride of 500 miles begins with a single stroke. A symphony of 10,000 measures begins with a single note. A best-seller starts with a single sentence. The list goes on.
As the quote at the beginning says, there’s no substitute for hard work. Accomplishing anything takes discipline, determination, focus, and passion. That’s why I have the word discipline tattooed on my back. Each day, I have to earn anew the right to wear the word on my shoulders—with compassion, humility, and love. Someday, if I work hard enough—maybe, just maybe—like Dan and those heroic AIDS Riders, I’ll actually inspire someone else to look beyond their own limits to glimpse their true potential.