Today more than two dozen friends and family gathered from all across the United States and even across the international border to celebrate the first birthday of my beautiful little daughter Clara.

As I pause to reflect on this last year of my life I feel myself a bit overwhelmed. They say having a baby is a massive change in life, and it could not be any truer. A year and nine months ago, my wife and I were on a sailing trip to the San Juan Islands of Washington state. The two-week vacation was just what we needed after two intense years. Alix had just finished her master’s program, and I was working a soul-crushing job to support us.

During that sailing trip, we had time to decompress and talk our short and long term dreams. The trip also coincided with our anniversary. We brought a bottle of wine along to celebrate. My wife is an extremely lightweight drinker, even just two sips of wine and she’s a goner! I am not kidding, anybody who knows her will vouch for that! After hiking one of the gorgeous San Juan Islands, and taking an icy cold swim in Puget sound, we settled into the cockpit of our sailboat for the evening and popped open the bottle, to celebrate our anniversary. I had only a couple of glasses, but Alix finished the bottle herself!! It was usual, but we did not think too much of it at the time. A couple days later as we made our way home Alix laid inside the cabin for the entire seven-hour trip, with what I assumed was a slight case of seasickness. A few days later she asked me to get a pregnancy test. I thought she was joking, but multiple tests were positive!

This was not part of the plan! We wanted kids, but our dream was to be more established in my real estate investing, and her new teaching career.

Clara was born on April 20, 2019. A beautiful and healthy little bundle of joy.

Our plans had been derailed, but for the moment I did not care. Watching Clara’s change week by week has to be one of the most incredible things that I have ever seen in my life. After a few months, she tried to stand by pulling herself up using a support, but she fell right back on her rear. She fell a lot, but every time she got right back up for another attempt.

Her perseverance inspired me. She never admitted defeat! Failure was not an option.

Failure was not even in her vocabulary.

Over and over she would attempt to stand up and fall, then attempt to stand up again. To her, falling was a minor bump on the road toward achieving her goal of standing.

Clara got me thinking a lot about my life and the excuses I make when it does not seem like something is going as well as I wanted to.

I have mentored and coached many people, and I see this common thread amongst the most successful- they never give up. Falling down is just a speed bump in their journey. Those that do not pick themselves up are never able to gain momentum toward their dream.

John Maxwell has said that a steam locomotive without momentum cannot push through a brick wall, however, if that brick wall is simply in the path as it is steaming down the rails toward its destination, it will smash through it with only a minor shutter, and continue on toward its goal. I saw that lived out in front of me every day for the last year.

Sometimes our plans in life take years to come to fruition. I’ve been around long enough to see the cycle play out several times, but seeing my child developing new skills every week drove it home on a much more compressed timeline.

Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right”. Whatever your dreams are, you need to be setting your sights solidly on them and believe in yourself. Power up your steam locomotive and burst through those brick walls. You will encounter setbacks along the way, but they are only bumps along the journey to reaching your dream. I believe you have what it takes. I know you have what it takes. If you will simply grab on and pull yourself back up when you fall then you can achieve your dreams and more