When I was 8, I told my step father that I wanted to be the first ever white Walter Payton. Sweetness, as he was called, was the Chicago Bear’s Hall of Fame running back on the 1985 super bowl shuffle championship team. Becoming him, my first idol, was the original goal I set for myself. I wasn’t a very realistic child. I leaped over couch pillows, dashed and stiff armed the competition every chance I got.
Growing up in Iowa, we spent our time in the neighborhood backyards playing sports. It is what we did. Video games were of the Atari version, and in a town of 1800 people, there was plenty of safe suburban space to roam. As a gifted and spirited athlete, I routinely played sports with my older brother and his friends, as well as my own, from the time I could walk. I knew from an early age it was going to be my focus, my way out, my destiny. If there was a game to be played, I wanted in it. Whereas a lot of kids, played, and even practiced, I took things much further, and invested all my time into them. At 10, when a brief interlude with skateboarding ended up with me breaking my right arm, basketball became my focus. It has remained a huge part of my life ever since. Simply put, the gym became my church.
Most kids have dreams; I put the work into achieving them. At age 11, I started a penny saver route in order to save enough money to afford the best training equipment. I made $12 a week. I bought Strength Shoes to help my vertical leap, a brand new glass square basketball hoop, and I saved for basketball camp fees. I shoveled snow during the winters, and shot, dribbled, and trained, until I was forced to stop. My parents supported me greatly too, especially after they saw how serious I was. Everything revolved around my drive to achieve my goals. I had notebooks where I charted each shot, every dribble, every minute that I dedicated towards my success.
The goal setting continued throughout my childhood, and as they developed, so did I. “I want to play varsity basketball as a freshman.” - “I want to play division 1 basketball for the University of Duke on a full ride scholarship. “ - “I want to be a McDonald’s all American.” – “ I want to play in the NBA, make millions of dollars, and buy my mom a big house.”
As an 8th grader, I started kissing the Varsity basketball coach’s ass. I was a little creeper, always around, always trying to be perfect. I sat behind the Varsity bench at games instead of with my friends, I carried my basketball around school at all times, I lived and breathed the sport of basketball. I drank chocolate milk at keg parties, stayed away from girls, and played the all American boy. I got very good. I was one of the best basketball players in the school at 14 years old. I received my first college letter as an 8th grader from an Ivy League School. But I didn’t obtain any of my original goals.
Check out those Farmer Tans - State HS Basketball Team - 1996
I didn’t play varsity basketball as a freshman, something that still haunts me today, but I was All-State as a sophomore and a junior. As a senior, I was Honorable Mention All-American. I didn’t play at the University of Duke, but I received a full ride to the University of Nebraska at Omaha and was a 2-time Team Captain. I didn’t make it to the NBA; I got drafted into selling Corporate Insurance after deciding not to pursue a basketball career overseas.
Despite all of my successes, in sports, in basketball, in life, I still viewed myself as a failure for not reaching the levels I had set for myself. It has taken me most of the last 13 years, after the ball finally stopped bouncing, for me to realize that I haven’t failed. Basketball was a means to an end. It’s end, only shot me on the path towards the rest of my life and the real beauty didn’t lie within basketball itself, but in the memories that I created while playing it. The friends I have met and shared my passion with, the laughter, the comraderies, the blood sweat and tears, the winning, the losing, the game within the game. Not only did, I provide all these things formyself, but also for other's. My friends became friends, they shared life together, in many instances without me. It still continues to this day, it is still my church, my favorite way to congregate and be myself. The baller I worked to become, is very much alive within me. This is the gift. This is the achievement.
This past week, in my conversations with Guru Mike, I have realized that the goals that were once a huge part of my life need to be present again. I can’t be afraid of setting them, talking about them, believing in them, living them. More importantly, I can’t be afraid of failing at them. The victory is in the work you put towards them in pursuit, not whether or not they are all realized.
My goals need to be bold, as I know no other way. They need to be clear, and I need to commit myself daily to the effort it requires to achieving them. I know that all of them may not be obtained, but I know too, that in this dedication, I will accomplish many great things that I never expected. It isn’t easy for anyone to put themselves out there, to share such intimate parts of themselves, but I am doing it- I am not afraid of becoming the man I envision, nor failing in the process. Because the man that is forming, isn’t far removed from that boy, that shot, bounced and leapt his way to achieving a lot of great things through childish pursuits. I will not fail, I will live and prosper in whatever dreams may come.
2- 4 Weeks
I am going to practice daily in order to perform my monologue for Jackie and Mike on June 19th. I am going to prepare for this like an audition and put my best foot forward, in order to showcase my talents, and simulate the experience, so I am confident when I receive actual auditions and not intimidated. It is important for me to develop my craft if I want to be successful and this will only happen through my continued hard work.
I will successfully audition for casting and talent agencies in Phoenix, Chicago and LA. I will present myself with professionalism and confidence, and showcase my talent and hard work. Because of my hard work and persistence, I will have several options for representation, and will set myself up for success in the industry. This will give me clarity as to where I want to spend the next several years, developing my career, and living my life with my son.
I will land a role in either an independent film or be cast in a national commercial in a major market. This will start my career as an actor, and allow me the opportunity to push forward with this as my full time profession. I will be able to provide for myself and Haven through my dedication and hard work, and I will be surrounded by amazing people both professionally and personally. I will be living comfortably in Chicago, Phoenix or LA, and I will be in the best mental and physical shape of my life.
I will be regularly acting in feature films, television shows, commercials and theater. I will be happily married to my soul mate and able to afford the lifestyle that I have always wanted for me and my family. I will have a nice modern, minimalistic loft condo in the city. Haven will be thriving as a young adolescent, and my daughter, whose name probably starts with an H, will be “daddy’s little girl”. I will coach one of Haven’ sporting teams, and will also be volunteering a portion of my time to the community, or some sort of charitable organization. Our family will be able to vacation to Costa Rica once a year to reunite with old friends, and so dad can have a beer, or two, at Sharky’s. We will also have a cabin in Mammoth, our little home away from everything where we will enjoy skiing, snowboarding, and making snow angels in our backyard while a huge fire crackles and the stars are bright above us. Mom, will be taken care of too.
60 Days to the Rest of My Life
May 27, 2015
Liisa's 30 Days at Revive Wellness Center at Langosta Beach Club in Tamarindo, Costa Rica