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Lessons From McFarland, USA

McFarlandUSA

I love a feel-good Disney movie. No really, I do. And this weekend, as we were all relaxing in our house and nursing some small colds that have made their way into my children’s noses, my husband turned on McFarland, USA.

Just in case you haven’t seen it, a short recap is that Coach White loses yet another job as a high school football coach, and has to move his family to McFarland California. He’s met with resistance, discomfort and a high school filled with at-risk youth, whose options include prison or a lifetime of picking produce in fields. Full stop.

Through twists and turns, they end up forming a cross country track team, and end up winning the state championship, which opens the door to college up for all of the boys on the team, and they all end up getting degrees and changing the path that had been before them.

We always love these types of stories, right? I mean, we can think of the 1980 USA hockey team and the move Miracle. Or another one of my favorites, Rudy. About the young man who knew that hard work could trump talent, but it had to include vision, heart and grit. What makes these movies pull at our heart strings and cheer is that we connect, on a very profound level, with those who fight through the inevitable to create the new.

We all want that, right? We want to believe that it’s possible to change our destinies, to push through boundaries and alter the obvious course in front of us. Every time I watch one of these movies, I’m inspired to work harder, to do more than I think I can and dream bigger.

I spent this summer working on a new book called Redefining Success, in a collaborative effort with 13 other women. The book launched on Thursday night at a party that exceeded my expectations. Now, I didn’t run on an unlikely track team, after picking lettuce for six hours in a field in the blazing sun, but it definitely wasn’t the future that was in front of me a few years ago. I had a fabulous future in front of me, it just wasn’t the one I wanted.

In writing and editing the book, I had to take a deep hard look at who I have been in my life, where I started, how I was able to move through the different periods in my life and why I chose to work through what life handed me and create my own destiny. I had to do exactly what the book recommends we do, take time to ask ourselves the tough questions:

Why am I here?
What are my gifts?
What can I do for other people?
What do I want my life to be for?

And in light of last week’s shooting, yet another one, I couldn’t help but wonder if the course of events could have been different if we asked these types of questions in schools, and if we gave our children permission to look at the outward markers of success that we’re all told we should want, and really investigate whether or not we really want them.

Sometimes we need an outside force, like Coach White, to come in and ask us to take a good hard look at our probable future and look at how we can alter what we don’t like, and other times, it will come from within us. Redefining Success shares 13 stories that are a combination of both types of future altering. It was written to inspire moments like the one at the end of McFarland USA, when the slowest member of the team digs deep and surprises everyone by coming in ahead of his time and winning the championship for his entire team.

In today’s hectic, over-scheduled world, it’s on us to take the time to slow down, study our own lives and decide whether or not we want to be the runner who finds the inner strength to cause a miracle and pull out the “impossible.”

Oh, and of course the movie is based on a true story, and the closing credits includes the appearance of all of the boys we’ve come to know through the course of the movie, where they are now, and which colleges they attended.

If they can do it, so can we. Let’s do this thing.

McFarland

 

*Image Property of Disney

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