A fictional conversation:

Overcomer: I'm pursuing my dream to [fill in the blank].
Fear: You know you've had some issues in the past, my love. Don't you fear failing?!
Overcomer: Everyone has had issues. What I fear is living a life of regret for not trying to fulfill my dream.

Fear: But what if you fail?!
Overcomer: What if I succeed?

Fear: Let's talk about that. Don't you fear what success can bring?
Overcomer: I'll let you know when I get there.

Overcomer: Fear, there's something I need to tell you.
Fear: What is it, dear? You know you can tell me anything. And you can count on me to point out your weaknesses so you don't get beside yourself. I'll always be here for you.
Overcomer: That's the problem. I've been in bondage because I've allowed you to keep me focused on my weaknesses. While I'm mindful of my weaknesses, I've decided to no longer be controlled by them. Instead, I'm focusing on my growth, my faith, my strengths, and the lessons I've learned. To that end, I need to tell you that your lease has been terminated, effective immediately!!! I took the liberty of packing your bags.
Your stuff has been taking up way too much space in my life. Bye, bye.


 
 
What does it mean to win? To be victorious or succeed at something in the face of a struggle or difficulty, right? Have you won at anything lately? How about today? Did you hold your tongue rather than wound another with your words? Did you see the positive in something that had negative implications? Avoid showing road rage to someone who cut you off in traffic? Begin an exercise program? How about offering an encouraging word to someone in the midst of your own pain? Volunteer your time/talent for something that didn't involve you or your family? Did you turn away from gossip? Did you show compassion to someone with whom you have issues? Eat a healthy meal? Make a connection with someone you consider difficult? What about taking a first step towards a goal or dream? These are examples of victories if our usual inclination may have been to do otherwise. Victories that may seem small and inconsequential to others who don't know where we've been, our history, our struggles. But because we know our struggles, we might consider these "small" victories significant. They may encourage us to appreciate each step on our journey; to continue on our path. Maybe we won't throw a party--or, maybe we will--but we can at least do a little joyful dance in our heads and hearts in gratitude.

Once we get into the mindset of celebrating the "small" victories, we may find we won't wait for the large victories to validate us. And that matters because it's often the small victories that lead us to, and prepare us for, the large victories. It's important to remember that a small win is still a win.
 
 
Now that you've made it through the planting season, it's time for the seeds of your dream to grow. Realization of your dream requires faith, gratitude, confidence, and perseverance. Because even after you've done all that's possible for you to do, your first steps toward realizing your dream will be taken without knowing how things will work out. You must have faith that they will. Will there be weeds along the way--obstacles, naysayers, critics, etc? There will always be weeds. See them for what they are, deal with them, and move forward. Envision yourself "giv(ing) 'em the Gabby."

Gratitude that you've made it this far and that your dream is coming to fruition is important. I believe in being grateful before I actually receive my blessings. That's how I activate my faith. And I find that the more grateful I am, the less I focus on obstacles. I don't ignore them, but I keep them in the proper perspective. And while I'm not happy about them, I try to be grateful for the obstacles knowing they serve a purpose.

Confidence in your plan, hard work, and abilities will help. Remember that you're already a winner. Many think about doing something . . . you actually did it. That itself is to be celebrated.

Finally, perseverance is important at this point. You didn't come this far to give up now. As for how long you should persevere, only you can determine what works best for you. I like these quotes: 1) from Josh Billings: "Consider the postage stamp; its usefulness consists in the ability to stick to one thing until it gets there"; and 2) from Jim Rohn: "Some people plant in the spring and leave in the summer. If you're signed up for a season, see it through. You don't have to stay forever, but at least stay until you see it through." 
 
 
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Have you ever been underestimated and/or discouraged by others when pursuing your goals or dreams? Gabby Douglas was certainly underestimated. Listening to the commentators last week, you would have thought she wasn't qualified to be on the Olympic team. There was constant second-guessing, dismissive comments about her difficulty focusing, and expressions of incredulity that she earned a spot in the individual all-around competition over a favored teammate. Clearly, they didn't know what Gabby is made of. They treated her like a "scrub", but she showed them she is, indeed, a champion. According to Gabby's mother, Gabby Skyped her before the individual competition to ask if she thought Gabby could win. After her mother said she knew Gabby could win, Gabby went out and did just that. Despite the naysayers and the incredible pressure, she turned on her magnificent smile, remained poised, and excelled at her craft. Then she took the winners' podium wearing her gold and a smile. In the law we use the term "res ipsa loquitur", meaning the thing speaks for itself. Gabby didn't need to address the naysayers--the gold medals around her neck spoke volumes.

When I was in high school, my guidance counselor underestimated me and tried to discourage me from pursuing my dream to become a lawyer. In his opinion, since no one in my family had attended college, it was best for me to pursue a career as a legal secretary. Although I thought a career as a legal secretary would be interesting, it wasn't my aspiration. Thanks to the encouragement of my family and a different guidance counselor, I went on to college and law school, and have enjoyed great success in my legal career. I never felt the need to return to tell that guidance counselor he was wrong. I just used his underestimation of my capabilities to motivate myself and to encourage others to pursue their dreams.

So for those who need encouragement, I say to you today, don't let others deter your pursuit of your dream(s). Don't give up unless you choose to do so. Others won't always support your dream; learn to encourage yourself. Work hard, be determined, diligent, focused, and poised. Work toward your dream like there's no tomorrow. And once you've achieved it, smile and let your gold (your accomplishment) speak for itself. Give 'em the Gabby.