Daring to dream is a fantastic quality.
One of the joys of childhood is that we have infinite boundaries to our imagination.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who can still vividly remember the exuberant excitement of leaving home for the first time when I went to university.
It felt as though the world was full of endless possibilities and adventures.
Life has a habit of closing in on us as we grow older. Our options inevitably narrow as we develop relationships, families, careers and responsibilities.
I can tell you with the utmost sincerity that one of the reasons I have chosen the challenges and uncertainties of being an “entrepreneur” (an overused title if ever there was one) is because I want to hold onto my unfettered imagination for as long as possible.
However, daring to dream needs to be balanced out against living in the real world.
I’m particularly thinking of how we approach our careers and business, but the principles could hold just as true for our love life, our friendships and our bodies.
Time after time in the personal training game I see trainers decide to go it alone and dare to dream.
They pump themselves up, and their friends and family support them by reflecting their hyperbole back at them, and they think they’re going to conquer the world.
I’ve been there, I’ve started a business, I’ve dreamed of conquering the world.
The difference between me and so many I see trying to follow my path could arguably be boiled down into one short sentence: “I was realistic about what I could achieve and what it takes”
First of all, I took it one step at a time. In my head, I always called the first gym “the first gym”.
In other words, in my head, it was one of what would be many. That was in my head, not plastered all over Instagram like these braggarts today.
If you’ve not even made your first place cash flow positive, shut the **** up about your ‘gym chain’.
Secondly, I knew what it takes to be successful and I was prepared to pay the price. Most of the jokers who shout out their grand plans don’t have a clue about the sacrifice that is required, and if they could get their heads around it they wouldn’t be prepared to do it.
You lose friends because you’ve no time to put into relationships, you see your parents a lot less, if you have kids you need a solid partner who backs you every step of the way; someone who accepts that you’re going to miss out on holidays, social life, and be mentally absent much of the time.
You’re the boss so you’re the bad guy who has to have the uncomfortable conversations – if you want to be liked, then this isn’t for you.
And finally, the bit that people don’t like to discuss in this age of political correctness, you have to have the talent.
Just because someone else has done it, doesn’t mean you can.
Persistence and sacrifice are absolute non-negotiables and can get you very far, but if you don’t have the talent, and we can apply this to any goal, then forget about it.
This is going to make for uncomfortable reading, but if I look back on the personal trainers who have left UP with grand plans to set up their own gym / personal training empires, I largely see a litany of abject failure.
They publically announced that they were going to set the world on fire, usually burning bridges along the way, which is the first step towards failure, and talked about themselves as if they were business warriors one step away from ascending Mount Olympus.
The fitness business is bloody hard work. It’s an every-man-for-himself dogfight that’s now dominated by massive gym chains. But everyone already thinks he is the next winner of X Factor.
And we all know where most of them end up.
Being realistic does not mean being negative. You absolutely should dare to dream. But if you’re going to dream, and especially if you’re going to share that dream with the world and take money off investors, for God’s sake get the first clue as to what it is going to take.
Before you start masturbating yourself at the thought of your gold-plated dumbbells and facilities in exotic parts of the world, find out if you’ve got what it takes to make a business profitable for a year and build from there.
I appreciate that there’s a fair bit of negativity in today’s message, which I feel I need to explain further.
Whilst daring to dream is good, broken dreams are not. I see countless trainers with crushed egos and shattered dreams who would have been better off setting their sights a little bit lower.
I know what it means to have an itch that you need to scratch, and for many, that means going it alone.
The problem is that they don’t really know what that means. I’ve seen trainers bankrolled by their clients because they’ve talked themselves up, and yet these are characters who crumble under the first sign of pressure, even when working for someone else.
If you wilt under the smallest of pressure as an employee then boy are you in trouble when it’s your own skin in the game.
All of this is akin to our gym newbie and his Mr Olympia quest. He needs to show and know that he can handle a brutal step-by-step process to get him to his dream, and on top of that he needs God-given genetics.
We’d laugh at the beginner who claims to be on his way to professional bodybuilding, and yet I’d probably argue that it’s less rare to become a pro bodybuilder than it is to own a successful gym chain.
Most guys with an ounce of experience are savvy enough to appreciate that the road to professional bodybuilding is too tough, but because they’ve all been Vaynerchuk’d up, they think business greatness is as simple as signing a property lease. The hard part isn’t opening your business, it’s in keeping it open and doing more than buying yourself a job.
I implore you, please dare to dream but don’t fly so high that your feet are no longer on the ground.