I’m inspired today thinking about the boys in the movie McFarland, USA. 7 boys whose families
had never been past 9th grade, found a way to college. Their status quo could have swallowed them. Instead, they created a new status quo. With a coach who believed in them, a brand new cross country team from a predominantly Mexican town in southern California managed to win 9 cross-country state championships in 14 years. Totally unrealistic in 1987.
Today, it’s a story worth telling – and believing in.
There’s a scene in the movie in which Tomas is speaking with his father about the possibility of winning the state championship, and that winning a state championship might give him an opportunity to go to college. His father, worn down from hard work and struggling to support his family tells Tomas to forget about college. He tells him spending time reading is going to ruin his eyes.
It was that moment when things could have completely changed for Tomas (and the team). If Tomas had succumbed to the reality of his father’s words. If he had bought in to the mindset that he was never going to be any more than a “picker,” that may have determined a different outcome for Mc Farland’s cross-country team. But he managed to hold on to hope – an idea that maybe, just maybe running could take him further than his father could see. No one would have blamed him if he had given up. It was totally unrealistic to imagine their team could ever win the state championship. But they did.
The belief in a dream/idea is so fragile, almost fleeting.
We all know that not all ideas are great. But who determines if a dream has legs? Only us. To vet a dream is to learn a lesson. By trying, we can learn for ourselves what works and what doesn’t work. No one can accurately predict the viability of an idea without testing it. The first iteration will be clumsy, awkward, and might be a flop – we’ll probably come in 4th out of 4 teams – otherwise known as last place. But that process of failing – that is when the idea grow its wings. The courage to show up at the next race and the next. That is what greatness is made of.
As a young girl, I grew up in a family filled with love. There were no barriers to the love, but I felt barriers to my abilities, and, as they say, my perception was my reality. For reasons that don’t matter today, I felt limited in my abilities. My ideas were disregarded as idealistic – and they were, because I was never brave enough to take action, to test my dreams, to shoot for the stars. Today, I realize that idealists – people with dreams – are special people. People who are encouraged to try (and fail) are the most creative people on Earth. They follow their heart, even if everyone else thinks they are crazy.
As a dreamer, I will warn you: To put yourself out there is a risk. People will laugh at you. They will criticize you, they might even call you stupid. But if we dreamers can remember one simple fact, we might get beyond the fear and change the world anyway: If it’s our dream, it’s our job to make it a reality. No one else can – because no one else sees exactly what we see. Thank goodness for people like Jim White and for the dreamers who are willing to take the risk, daring to be champions.
“You guys are superhuman. What you endured just to be here, and get a shot at this; the kind of privilege that someone like me takes for granted… There’s nothing you can’t do with that kind of strength – with that kind of heart – you kids have the biggest hearts I’ve ever seen. Go win the race.” – Jim White, McFarland, USA