Since the age of ten years old I have been blessed with the opportunity to chase my dreams of being a professional athlete. There have been lots of ups and downs, but through it all I have learned some important life lessons about turning your dreams into reality. Lessons that anyone in any industry can relate to. My hope is that someone reading this will find something of value and be inspired!

1. Success is a mentality – I found that the reason most people fail to accomplish their dreams is not because of the lack of ability or talent. It is usually a result of a lack of discipline, self-control, or something concerning their mentality. You can give a person all the abilities, resources, and opportunities in the world but if they never change the state of their mind and their daily habits, then they will never reach their full potential.

2. You must pay attention to details – Talent can only take you so far. The higher up you progress, the more important it is that you pay attention to doing the little things right. Truly study your craft and understand the strengths and weaknesses of not only yourself, but your competitors as well.
3. NOBODY is self-made – This is true in business and in sports. It is great to be self-reliant and self-motivated, but you must also learn to surround yourself with the right team of individuals, form partnerships, and be able to delegate. In order to truly be successful you must have the ability to work with and empower those around you.
Understand that most people will only deal with you to the extent that you can help them.
4. Appreciate those who have your best interest – This is a tough reality to face. The higher up you climb on the ladder of success, the more you will have people who are only looking to capitalize off of you. In the professional world,  most of the time it’s all about the value you present to a certain situation. Some people may not even acknowledge your existence unless they feel like you can do something for them. It is very hard to find genuine people who have your best interest at heart and don’t want anything from you except to help you. You must identify and nurture these relationships.

5. The grass isn’t greener on the other side – Don’t ever think for a second that someone has a better life than you because of the way they present themselves. Its easy to get fooled by the picture perfect images people may present, but I guarantee you that the individual that you may admire, for their professional or personal achievements, had to pay a heavy price to acquire it along with the cost of maintaining that status. Whether internally or externally, we all have something we are trying to overcome.
6. Opportunities will rarely be handed to you – There will be times in life when you can’t wait for the perfect opportunity or a particular person to say yes in order for you to go after what you want. In order to live your dream you must, at times, be willing to fight for it and take leaps of faith, knowing and believing that everything will work out the way its supposed to.
7. Pick and choose your battles – One of the toughest lessons I had to learn early in my life was that every opposition isn’t worth the fight. Certain battles can do you more harm than good, even if you win. It may be a boss, a colleague, or sometimes even your own family that does you wrong. However, sometimes it’s better to forgive the person and keep it moving for the sake of your own peace. Not every person is worth your time and stress. Especially those that can potentially cause you even more pain and headache in the future.
8. Don’t allow your job to become your identity – There is nothing wrong with chasing your dreams and wanting to accomplish great things in your career, but don’t let it become the basis of your identity, self confidence, or self-worth. I have seen my fair share of people who allow their job titles and the little bit of authority they have, make them feel as though they can treat people however they want. These are the same individuals who feel like their life is over once that job ends and they have to transition. You have to know how and when to take the uniform off mentally and remember the fact that no matter what position, level of income, or status you have in society, we are all human at the end of the day.
9. Embrace your journey – No matter what position you are in, take pride in it and realize that it is all temporary. Realize that the job you may hate could actually be preparing you for the next level. That person who gets on your nerves could be building the patience, self-control, and management skills that will be necessary for your future success. You never know how all of the good and bad experiences in your life will come together to help you become the person you are supposed to be. Embrace everything.

10. Adopt an attitude of gratitude – It is so important to be thankful for everything you have, because none of it is promised. It can be easy to complain, compare, and to stress yourself based off of what you don’t have. I believe it is important to focus on what you do have, no matter how big or small that blessing is. For a lot of us, even the issues we have in our lives would be gladly welcomed by individuals who are in tougher situations than we are. I guarantee there is always someone who would gladly accept that job, car, or relationship you may not be happy with. Be thankful.
Just my thoughts! Feel free to comment below on what you have learned from chasing your dreams!

Rennie Curran is the author of “Free Agent – The Perspectives of A Young African American Athlete”, motivational speaker, musician, and linebacker who is currently a free agent. You can follow him on twitter: @RennieCurran53, Instagram: RennieCurran, or visit his website at www.renniecurran.com.