Pull a Tebow

Maybe you’re tired of hearing the story. Guy works hard, gets an opportunity, and takes advantage of it. Guy is slighted, has to start over, gets another opportunity and takes advantage of it. I’m not tired of the Tebow story because it’s the American Dream smacking me in the face again and again.

Whether you are a football player, entrepreneur, student, or anyone else the same remains true: We want to believe that if we work hard then opportunities will come, and we want to take advantage of those opportunities to find success.

What kind of chance do you think people gave Tim Tebow when he was a homeschooled kid in the south? What kind of chance did they give him when he sat behind Senior QB Chris Leak at Florida? We all know what kind of chance they gave him coming into the NFL. He worked hard and made the most of every opportunity.

The American Dream is Now a Worldwide Dream

I’m not the biggest Tebow fan out there, and I don’t like him as much as what he represents. However, this story speaks to people all over the world, because the American Dream has stretched across the world through globalization. Thomas Friedman’s “flat world” is a smart way of saying that more and more people now have the ability to craft their own destinies by working hard and taking advantage of new opportunities.

When I was in South Africa I met a group of young people who all had a dream: Five guys a bit younger than my age (21 at the time) who wanted to get out of the township of Tembisa. They knew there was only one way out, the opportunity of education. As a prospective teacher at that time, this was not only inspirational, but also a reality check that my education was taken for granted. Since then, three of these guys have gone on to graduate from university, and even though one of them did not make it to MIT (his dream) he is a successful engineer giving back to his community.

I tell this story because it’s important to realize that we all see opportunity differently. It is relative to our current situation in life, but we do all get these opportunities.

There are Tebow’s Everywhere

The Tebow story transcends sport because we look at him and realize he is not the 6’5, mechanically sound, rocket arm, prototypical NFL quarterback. When he succeeds after all the NFL media knock him down we feel relieved…because we are all most likely not the prototypical _____________(put your job/dream here). He wins. We win. He is the ultimate underdog, and we love rooting for the underdog.

The same goes for Drew Brees, another “not-so-prototypical” NFL quarterback who was slighted in the NFL draft, successful when he got his chance with the Chargers, then ditched for a younger, taller, stronger QB (Phillip Rivers), only to win a Super Bowl MVP and break the NFL passing record with the Saints. How can you not love that?

There are Tebow’s in every industry. You think the “Social Network” was made into an award winning movie because Zuckerberg had it easy? Nope. He worked hard and took advantage of a major opportunity (that he created). Whatever you do, or wish you did, look for the story that will inspire you, because it can be done.

Stop Complaining and Go Do It

Maybe this all sounds a bit cliché. But I don’t care. I teach high school students and coach middle school kids who have their whole lives ahead of them. The possibilities are endless with an American education and hard work. However, a lot of students (myself included when I was in school) take this opportunity for granted. It’s when a story like Tim Tebow comes along that we all have to stop and think about how anything might really be attainable.

Chances are if you are reading this still, then you have a dream. Go Do It. Don’t wait around because someone else will go and do it. Work hard and at some point an opportunity will present itself (probably that you had some part in creating). Take advantage of it and do the unthinkable…pull a Tebow.

AJ Juliani

AJ Juliani is a founder and chief editor of Education Is My Life. AJ works as a K-12 Technology Staff Developer running a 1:1 laptop initiative. AJ also writes, speaks, and presents at various education conferences and is currently working on a new book!

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