I was left speechless a couple of weeks ago with a friend of mine after we had a chat about American politics. He’s from the Middle East, and I always find him so riveting to talk to. He has a very well-educated, well-rounded perspective, and I always learn when we chat. He’s also Muslim and so I was curious to know what the reaction was from the inflammatory comments that Donald Trump has been making about banning Muslims from the US.
So I asked him, “what do people in the Middle East think about Donald Trump and the possibility he would become President.”
He responded: “Well it would be very bad, but it would also be a disaster if Hilary Clinton was elected”.
“Really?” I asked him, “Why?”
“Because she’s a woman”. End of sentence.
And so I waited and waited a little bit more and…that was it.
“And why would it be so bad to have a female president,” I asked him, trying and failing miserably to hide my incredulous tone. “Because no one in the world would take a female head of a superpower seriously, it would be a disaster.”
And so I sat in stunned silence for a couple of moments, almost heading towards laughter that someone that I was such good friends with could have such a point of view.
Like he was reading from a script that was titled “How to Make a Good Run at Pissing Ciara Off”, he continued on, trying to make his point. “Come on Ciara, it would be like a woman coaching a top men’s team. None of the guys would take her seriously.”
I calmly disagreed, pointing out that a woman had just won the Coach of the Year award for the Tier below the top men’s tier in France. “I’m talking Bayern Munich, Barcelona… you really think Messi is going to take a woman seriously, giving him instructions on how to play soccer?”
“I’d like to think that someone like Messi would be open-minded enough to listen to anyone that would have something to teach him.” Now not really doing a very good job of showing my discontent at his opinions.
“Be Realistic” he finished his argument with, disgusted with me for not seeing his point.
“Be Realistic” it’s a phrase I’ve talked and thought about a lot over the last few weeks as I have lived my life in a state of blissful paradise. My response to my friend and my response to anyone that’s ever told me to be realistic, whether discussing my own life or a way of doing things, I’ve always said the same thing:
“Don’t impose your limitations on what is possible or what people are capable of on me”.
My favorite modern-day example is the Roger Bannister, 4 minute mile story- for decades people tried to break the 4 minute barrier in the mile, and then in one day in Vancouver BC in the 1950’s, Bannister did it, when the majority of the world said it couldn’t be done, and within months many many others had done the same.
“Being realistic” doesn’t allow us to dream big, to think of the pathways of hard work and outside of the box thinking that can lead us to amazing places, and puts limitations on the incredible life that we could lead.
For me when I look at people “being realistic” or telling others to “be realistic”, I see people that are motivated by fear. Because if you are “being realistic” you don’t have to try and then by not trying you don’t have to worry about failing.
People also have this funny habit of trying to draw people to where they are whether up or down. If I’ve imposed limitations of what is possible with myself, the last thing I want to see is someone else out there, doing the “impossible” and proving that my definition of what is possible isn’t actually correct.
Do you think Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, and anyone else that’s done incredible things and built amazing, impactful businesses over this generation has ever said the words “be realistic”. I would guess not, because being realistic hampers some mind-blowing, creative genius that allows our world to be taken to places we didn’t think possible.
Who we surround ourselves with is an important consideration, and for me, I choose to spend very little time with people who choose to live their lives “being realistic” (side note: my Muslim friend is very funny and passionate, 2 key qualities in my tribe that override his penchant for realism).
I choose to stick around “unrealistic” people, mostly because I don’t have any desire to live my life in a realistic fashion and we are shaped so much by the messages that those around us give. Part of what I have enjoyed so much about being in Thailand is that I’m surrounded by people that have taken some kind of a leap in their lives to the land of being “unrealistic”.
Our possee is from all kinds of different backgrounds, professions and countries, and yet I’ve forged incredible bonds with these people over the last few weeks that make them feel like I’ve known them forever, even though I only stepped off the plane in Ko Samui five weeks ago.
I have a friend from England that is extremely high up in a major firm who has decided that she will take a few months away from her job because her happiness is here, I have another friend from Austria that quit her job in China where she’s been for 7 years because she wanted a change and is pursuing the concept of being a digital nomad. Another friend is from Hungary and didn’t workout from when she was 15-31 decided that she wanted to pursue Crossfit and get super fit and so she quit her job and moved to Thailand where she looks like she’s been a high level athlete for a long time.
Another friend quit his job as an engineer in Australia and found he had a passion for running and is launching a business to make his dream of staying over and training in Thailand a reality.
As I signed paperwork to come back to Thailand for March-May on a 4 bedroom house overlooking the ocean and jungle, with an infinity pool and a huge outdoor entertaining area for a cost less than renting a studio in Vancouver, I couldn’t help but feel so grateful for not being born “realistic”. As I talked to the real estate agent, a French lady who’s family described her as “crazy” for leaving her safe life in Paris and selling everything and coming to Thailand, I couldn’t help but marvel at how there is a community of people everywhere, and how for me I want to be with all the crazy ones.
Here’s one of my fave Steve Jobs quotes:
We all project our version of what is possible to those around us.
From a soccer standpoint, every player deserves a coach that isn’t realistic. I am a firm believer that if you are willing to put the work in, like a crazy amount of work, and you’re willing to get rejected and told no, and get up and keep going, that things are possible.
This is a heated discussion I get in all the time, but I stick by what I believe because I’ve seen so many things happen to myself and others that aren’t “realistic” because of an incredible amount of work, perseverance and self-belief.
And even if goals and dreams aren’t “realistic” and they are too far gone to not actually materialize? Well if you put in all that work, in the spirit that whatever it is you want so badly is possible? You’re likely a hell of a lot farther ahead than from where you started and probably had a million of cool life experiences. And that’s part of what it is all about anyways.
Almost every girl that is in our senior class with GCF has gotten an offer to play D1/2 or 3 soccer. I’d like to think a huge part of that, besides the fact that they are an awesome hard-working bunch of kids, is that they have people around them telling them all the time that it is possible. Kids that were told as late as their sophomore years at their old clubs that college soccer wasn’t “realistic” for them are going to be suiting up next year and that gives me an immense satisfaction.
The greatest gift I was given by my coaches as a player growing up, that served me far greater than the absolute lack of specific high level soccer knowledge that most of them had, was their unwavering belief and message that everything was possible if I worked hard.
That mentality is the greatest gift we can give those around us and it’s as simple as making the choice to see the world through that “everything is possible” lens.
At the end of the day, sooner or later we are all going to be six feet under, so why not wake up every day trying with a smile on our face to make the unrealistic possible?
And in case anyone was wondering about my friend, the one that thought that Hilary Clinton would ruin the world if she wins the presidency, because she’s a woman?
I asked him if he had to choose between Donald and Hilary -between the man that wanted to ban his religion from the country, and the woman, who was, well, just a woman, who would he would choose?
And so as unrealistic as it may seem to most, we are still friends.
I wish all of you an unrealistic day….