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Yes, Sally, Your Dreams Can Come True

 

Dreams Can Come True When You Decide

Dreams can come true, and they do, when you decide to make it happen. And no, I’m not talking about the dream you had last night about winning the $20 million lottery jackpot. I am talking about the dreams that give you power. The dreams that leave a lasting legacy long after you have gone.

As a child, many of us look up to someone or are fascinated by certain occupations. We dream of becoming a policeman, astronaut, or doctor—that time in our life when nothing is beyond our grasp. We believe in Santa, the Easter Bunny, and magic. But then the unthinkable happens, and we grow up.

When I was growing up, I moved from childhood fantasy to reality, just like we all do. Santa Claus was not real, and I would not live forever. The Easter Bunny was gone, and with that furry friend that brought me eggs to find, the tooth fairy went as well. I won’t get into the reasons here, but I was one of those kids who started to question his worth when transitioning from my fantasy childhood to a new cold hard reality. The older I got, the more I began to fear the future.

My grades in high school were failing. I measured success by how few F’s I got on my report card, and I couldn’t even fathom getting into college. With nothing to lose, I started cutting classes and gave up on any chance of success. I began to think about who would take care of me when my parents would not or could not. Maybe I could join the army, and that could be my career. My dreams were all but gone and never to return, at least that is what I believed.

Are The Dreams Gone Forever?

If you are asking yourself, are the dreams gone forever, the answer is no. Your dreams can come true. I graduated in the bottom quarter of my high school class of just under a thousand students. But I was accepted into two colleges. I had a choice between a small private school and a state university. Because financially, I was able to make a choice, I chose the small private college.

But I started college with a huge challenge. I had a daughter and a wife. We were not ready for marriage, and I thought my life had come to an end, but it did not. But life did become very challenging. Before I got through my freshman year of college, our tumultuous nightmare of marriage ended in a custody battle that forever changed my life. I took a leave of absence from school to fight for custody, and eventually, against all odds, I got my daughter. My wife disappeared from my life until our daughter was 21 years of age. By then, I was happily married to my current, forever wife.

I digressed from my topic that dreams can come true. I did better in college than in high school, but the best I could do was get close to a low B average. Still, I made some progress. But what will I do with my life? How can I ever make anything of myself?

A New Dream Comes True

Becoming a nursing home administrator was never on my dream list, but it happened. Even though this was not a dream of mine, but it was worth settling for. I only needed a high school diploma, and I had to take a 200-hour course plus pass a test. Unfortunately, I failed the test the first time around. But I studied hard and passed the second time with the highest score of that group.

So this was not exactly my dream, but in 1977 I became a licensed nursing home administrator in Texas. The number on the license was 3502. I was the three thousand and second person to get a license in Texas. But, I still felt completely inadequate. My mother was a nursing home director of nursing, and I called her before making any decision. How would I ever run a nursing home on my own?

Many positive things occurred during the early years, but I chalked them all up to luck. I jumped from job to job, believing it was the only way not to fail. I was convinced that I could never succeed on my own.

Failure Becomes Success

After constantly jumping from job to job to keep my incompetence from being discovered, it finally came to an end in 1993. I was now a director of operations for a small company in Wisconsin. Three years into the job, I made some serious mistakes that resulted in the potential loss of one community’s license. This was serious, and I was convinced I needed to run away again or be fired.

My wife, however, had other things in mind. She was tired of moving, and I found myself deciding to stay. That was the first time I faced failure. I went to the company president and asked him if there were any chance I would be able to keep my job. I will remember what he said forever. He stated, “If I were Larry (the company owner), I would be concerned about you and me.”

Redemption

The owner allowed me to redeem myself. He asked me what we needed to do to make things right. I gave him my plan, and he told me to get on it. It was months of hard work, late nights, and early mornings but we managed to fix my mistakes. Then, he called me in for a meeting.

At that meeting, I asked to speak first. I told him I was the only person accountable for what happened. I said I was fortunate to be still working, and I would never make the same mistake again. And that was the beginning of a new dream. My new dream can come true. Yes, I had a new life.

Before I eventually left that company, I was promoted to vice president of operations and offered an employment contract for 18 months. When I did finally leave, on good terms, I was given a one-year separation package. It was the best package I ever would get. And that brings me to the next phase of my life.

Dreams Can Come True

My next position was as a regional director of operations for a company that had not started operating. I was with that company for the next twenty years. I made mistakes, but I owned them. And I progressed up the ladder to division vice president. That company grew from 58 bankrupt nursing homes to become one of the US’s largest senior housing providers. At the same time, I co-founded a not-for-profit organization with a good friend. That also grew, and I had the privilege to make over 20 trips to Vietnam and other trips to Laos, China, and Hong Kong as part of that organization.

It was an amazing run. One I will treasure forever. My dream came true, but I have new dreams. I cannot know the future, but I keep falling back on my faith in Jesus Christ. And for now, I can look back on the last twenty years. So here is my year in review. This link goes to my Instagram account, where I have stored a few more of my favorites.

My dream came true because I chose to make it happen. Albeit I made that choice with some threats to my life from my wife, it was the decision to change that made it happen.

Now, make your dream come true. Watch the sway!

 

 

 

Stephen Johnson
Author: Stephen Johnson

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