Many of us have dreams that almost seem like a fantasy. Today I’m witnessing a dream become a reality right before my eyes.
When Nikki was 10 years old she walked up and boldly declared “I want to be a Vet.” When I asked why she explained, “I saw how much the bill was for Colonel (our dog) and it was ridiculous”. Curiously I asked, “How much will you charge?
I told her clients will be lining up!
15 years later the fire in her eyes never dimmed.
Today she walks across the stage at Texas A&M University’s Veterinary College of Medicine as Dr. Nikki.
At lunch last week I asked her what she had to fight along the way to get through, in order to make this dream move from fantasy to reality. We built this list:
- 128 exams to complete during her undergrad degree
- 1200 hours working with animals
- 450 clinical hours
- 144 tests in Vet school
As I sat there looking at the sense of confidence of someone about to cross the finish line, knowing she left nothing on the field, curiosity again struck me.
“How did you get through it? How were you able to stay the course, keep your vision?”
She sat back in her chair, her eyes showing she was being transported back in time. The following sage advice poured out.
Build a community, I leaned on a lot of people who were pushing me.
In our journey, who do we spend time with? Do we surround ourselves with people who challenge us to be the best we can be by their walk and words? How intentional are you in identifying others whose values resemble yours, whose work ethic inspires you, whose focus in pursuit of their dreams lights a candle illuminating your path as well? Do the people you spend time with pour into you or drain you?
Have faith, persevere by keeping your eyes on the target
The shift from undergrad to Vet school was a huge leap. Not just because of an elevated standard in academic study. Nikki took on the financial obligation of the cost of putting herself through Vet school. The financial decision and obligation was staggering as she looked at the weight it would cause on her future. News of her mom battling (and winning) breast cancer rocked her world. My mother’s (Nikki’s grandmother, her MeMaw, who affectionately referred to her as “My Nicole”) health began to wane, slowly slipping away leaving a hole in her world. Nikki shared what pulled her through difficult times was being around people who faced more dire circumstances than she did. One classmate was diagnosed with a brain cyst. While not terminal, the pain was constant and at times overwhelming. Yet, she stayed the course pushing herself to attend classes and complete tests pushing off her surgery until the end of the semester. Peers who pushed themselves through obstacles inspired Nikki, setting the bar on what she expected of herself. Who’s pushing you?
Don’t take things personally…even if it is personal
When conflict arises (not if), don’t get knocked off course from the mission, from learning and moving on. A classmate and Nikki were scolded by a Veterinarian they were assisting. Information on scheduling and procedures were posted in the area that they thought was appropriate. However, the Vet chastised their action for not placing the information in a different location. Both felt they were following the instructions they were given. However, strong words were used to describe the error of their decision. Later, when discussing what seemed to be an unfair response to actions taken by the Vet without being given clear directions as they deemed appropriate, raging emotions slowed when Nikki pointed out “It’s not personal, only direction.”
When feeling under attack, fight the trap of interpreting the message as something personal. Becoming argumentative and defensive is never as successful as asking questions to seek other’s perceptions. Then learn and move on.
Survive…because you can. You are stronger than you think.
A simple question to ponder on: What have you not survived in your life? Obstacles will always be present, it’s the resilience in seeking the answer that builds strength of mind and character. Many times it’s a matter of taking one more step, finding the courage to ask one more question, to get out of bed one more time. The voice that questions our ability or worth is not one that speaks truth. We are made with resolve, an internal strength, the ability to persevere when our passion meets our purpose with persistence. Is there a wall that seems too tall, has no door too thick to bust through? Have you been slapped with something unexpected? Live today by Hal Moore’s dictum. He led the first troops into Vietnam. With only 300 men, he landed in the shadows of a Vietnamese army of over 4000 soldiers. He valiantly fought attack after attack with one overarching principle: there is always one more step to take toward a successful outcome. What step will you take today?
Nikki’s words ring in my ears as I drive to her graduation ceremony. The 10-year-old child with an impish smile and starlit eyes is walking through a door she envisioned, that she focused on, took step after step towards. What she doesn’t realize yet is she will do more than take care of animals. Her walk will heal hearts, comfort and inspire others. For me, most importantly the light has shifted. I no longer light the path for her, she now shines light on mine. For my dreams to one day become a reality.
Interested in talking to Mike about turning your dreams into reality?
Like many of us, Mike’s struggles helped him find his faith, master his abilities and uncover his passions, but most significantly for Mike, they have inspired him to help others do the same.
Everyone has unique gifts that when stretched, will blossom into amazing talent. Growth cannot exist without discomfort.
Your journey will only be revealed one door at a time. What we tackle today becomes the key to the door of success that tomorrow brings.
Ready to tackle the first door? Contact Mike TODAY:
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Mike and Nikki published A Father’s Love: The Generational Bridge that Changes Hearts Forever. Journey with them as they open doors to show the importance of how a father’s love profoundly impacts his children.
She’s wise beyond her words. Congrats Dr. Nikki!
Congratulations, Nikki! While I have not had the pleasure, I have read your book and know that your dad loves you to pieces. He is always ready with a story and his demeanor changes instantly whenever your name is mentioned. Here’s hoping your family celebrates this achievement in a big way. Gig Em! Roger Ferguson, Class of 1977