First, what’s your really big ‘they’ll think I’m crazy’ dream? I mean the big one. The one that you think about but then listen to the pessimists and surrender your dream to their ‘reality.’ Well, heck, you are busy, aren’t you? You have priorities, and anyway, deep down inside, you don’t think it’s ever going to happen, so why bother putting in the effort? Isn’t that what the voice that slows you down says to you?
“People aren’t afraid of hard work. They’re afraid of hard work not paying off.”
~ Rudy Ruettiger
When I chased my dream of becoming a comedian, I really never achieved it. Technically, I failed. I never became a comic headliner and made people laugh for a living. Instead, I was an opening act or maybe a middle act, at best. However, because I pursued that dream and struggled through the process, I grew personally. I also discovered a bigger, better dream that I didn’t even know existed.
Second, do you ever see ‘signs’ that you need to move forward – to go toward your dream? Maybe reading this article is that message for you.
Let me take you back to my “bucket list.” Because I always identified with the main character of the movie Rudy, I put meeting him on my bucket list. I decided to take a small step towards my goal and googled Rudy Ruettiger. I was shocked to find that he had an office less than a mile from my house! I was also shocked to learn that he was a speaker. Many attempts to contact his office resulted in little progress. I started putting the word out to friends and colleagues that I was very interested in meeting him. It was months later that my friend Judi Moreo helped set up a lunch with him. Wow! Cool!
We had lunch at the Cheesecake Factory. I felt like a little kid having lunch with Santa Claus. I was so excited and hung onto his every word. It was a powerful experience. First, because it reminded me that my bucket list dream had come true, but only if I took action. Secondly, I was inspired when he told me the story of how he created the movie through his trademark underdog determination. It was more inspiring than the movie itself to hear how he overcame Notre Dame’s reluctance to film another sports movie and the writer’s reluctance to write it. Rudy lives his “dream big, never quit” attitude.
What does this have to do with you and me? Everything! It was Rudy’s second big ‘they’re going to think I’m crazy’ goal. I believe if we’re not striving for something, we aren’t growing personally. Striving makes your journey more enjoyable and gives you hurdles and celebrations of accomplishment along the way.
I had this little idea in my head. I realized that I gravitated towards real-life inspiring stories. Rudy is my favorite, and Miracle, the story of the 1980 USA Hockey team and their coach Herb Brooks, is my number two. My idea was to take the story I tell in my keynote speeches and transform that into a Hollywood movie. I told only my closest friends because I didn’t want to look like I was on an ego trip. People tell me my story inspires them. But my thoughts were, “Who am I to have my story told in a movie?”
Life changed a bit for me during a mastermind meeting when I opened up to my friend and colleague, Mike Rayburn, and told him my fears. Mike replied to me, “Who are you, not to?” Wow! That was a new perspective, and it took me a long time to fully digest.
While watching the movie Coach Carter, I was reminded of this powerful quote that relates directly to my message. You may have heard these words erroneously attributed to Nelson Mandela. However, when he actually used the quote, he correctly attributed it to Marianne Williamson.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
By Marianne Williamson, from A Return to Love:
Reflections on the Principles of a Course in Miracles.
I believe I heard Brian Tracy say, “Whatever you think about, you can bring about.” Napoleon Hill said, “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” Well, conceiving it is one thing. Believing is another. I needed to work on my belief.
I got excited and started making some steps forward. I’ve met some amazing people who have brought me a couple of steps closer to the big goal. I met a Hollywood producer and several screenwriting coaches. My original plan was to hire someone to write it as Rudy did. Then I met a big-time producer, and she told me I needed to write it myself and she’d take a look at it. I’ve been talking a big game to some close friends, but I realized I needed to get serious because I was only working on my dream “in-between” work and personal life. I was not fully committed and making daily progress. I realized part of my apprehensiveness was feeling scared that I couldn’t do it. I’ve never written a screenplay, and it’s very different from a speech. I have no interest in making that a new career, I do have a desire to tell my story like most people.
Remember I asked you earlier about seeing signs? Last weekend, while driving with my sister, a car came screaming by us. It was the exact make, model, and color of my own car. The license plate was YNOTU. Why not you? I laughed, and I thought of Mike’s words to me and then realized it was a message to get serious. To me, it was a sign. On Friday, I spoke to a group of speakers in Vancouver. A young man in the audience asked a question about projects that I’m working on, and I launched into this story I’m telling you now. I realized I was partially doing it to make a commitment to them to start this process. The audience seemed to like the idea, and now I can’t break my word.
How can I genuinely inspire others if I’m not working daily on my next big goal? Inspired by Rudy’s story, I’m going to start on my own. I don’t know how it will turn out, but I hope that my struggle and accomplishments along the way somehow, with God’s help, will inspire you every day of the week. I will be putting in at least seventeen minutes daily towards my new goal and posting the activity on my blog. Each day, I’ll post a new blog entry: 17 Minutes Towards Your Dream DAY ONE.
My selfish reason for posting the progress is to keep me accountable to you. I’ve discovered I’m often more accountable to others than I am to myself. I wish to inspire you by example.
Why 17 minutes? I’d love to tell you about some great scientific research that led me to that number. The truth is that I know if I commit to a few minutes a day, some days, it will turn into hours. If I can create the habit, that’s the success, and I’ll make daily progress. Your thoughts, insights, and encouragement are welcome. I chose seventeen because that was my high school football number. My whole youth sports ‘career,’ I was second-string on every team. In most games, I sat on the bench, never getting my game uniform dirty. The summer before my senior year in high school, I said, “enough is enough!” I was tired of it!
I started lifting weights and running every day. I was in the best shape of my life. Due to my commitment to weightlifting, one of my high school nicknames was Chester. I worked harder than almost everyone else. When the season started, I still was not a starter, so I worked harder. I was beginning to see the coaches notice my efforts, and by our third game, I was returning punts and was the first-string cornerback. Nothing was going to change until I decided that enough was enough. It was my turn.
I don’t know if I’ll achieve this big film goal, but who am I not to? Who am I not to teach inspiration to others and not continue to grow through the challenge of pursuing my dream? I don’t want to just have the movie appear in theaters. I live my dream, and now I want to help more people to live theirs. I want it to inspire viewers to believe in themselves and start pursuing their passion. Also, to have it be the highest-grossing, most re-watched film, and that also wins seven Academy Awards! Hey, if you’re going to dream big, then…dream big!
What is your really big ‘they’re going to think I’m crazy’ dream? Do you see any signs? As Marianne said, “There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that others will not feel insecure around you.” Think big! Believe big! If you can’t believe big yet, commit to your big goal and make daily progress. Your progress will increase your belief, and the universe will bring you unexpected help along the way. I Darrenteed it!
Will you post a commitment on my blog? Will you help keep me accountable by seeing if I’m posting at least five days a week? Most importantly…what will you make daily progress toward? If not for you, then do it for your kids. They’re watching you. Inspire them by example. Each day I’ll be at least seventeen minutes closer to my goal. Will you?
RE: Weight training:
The last time I was at the gym I was bench pressing about 245 or maybe 250.
No wait, it was closer to 3 o’clock.
Darren, as always, you inspire me and keep me believing in myself. A sign? I woke up this morning with that feeling we all share sometimes when we are in the process of building a business (or any other dream!) and we aren’t there yet – what am I doing? Can I do this? Am I crazy? What have I got to give? And then there was your article. Sounds hokey, but there are tears in my eyes as I write this. You’ve given me the push I needed to keep putting one front in front of the other today on my journey to my dream.
Since first meeting you 12 years ago during your World Champs 2002 American Tour with David Brooks, you have been an inspiration to me. Because of you, I’m now committing to writing at least 17 minutes per day to make a recent project come to life. Thank you, my friend. Can’t wait to see which shiny-headed actor gets to portray you in the movie [Bruce Willis? Patrick Stewart? Dr. Evil?]. The choices are endless….
Darren, that’s a great story about Rudy. Thanks for sharing it.
It’s double duty help for me:
1. This week we have our Toastmasters club International Speech contest where I’m a contestant and hope to “knock it out of the park!” and…
2: I have a meeting this week with someone who can help me start my BIG DREAM!
Thanks for a great kick-off to the new year!
What a coincidence. I’ve had this concept for a movie sloshing around inside my head for several years. (Seriously!) I’ve visualized a number of scenes; in fact, probably the bulk of the story.
I think it’s a pretty good story, too. It’s a family oriented movie (father-son theme, to be precise). Finally, last December I set myself in front of the computer and started typing. Got all those scenes–the easy parts–down on paper (well, OK, in a Word doc). Now it’s the finer stuff.
Like you, I need to budget the time to work on this. I tell myself to devote at least 15 minutes a day to the project. Heck, I should be able to find that amount of time, right? That’s usually all a person needs. The key is to keep at it. Eventually the project is completed.
My story is better suited to the small screen, but that’s OK. I’d be satisfied with that as a first step.
Good luck on your project, Darren. I’m sure you’ll see your vision on the big screen someday.
– Tom Fuszard
New Berlin, Wis.
Synchronicity at it’s best. I’m on a weekly “Sufficiency” group call and our homework for this week is to dream big for 2013 to create our dreams, write them down and share with the group what they are next week! Amazingly I actually opened your e-mail today and read your inspiring story! I’m truly moved… and now I’m sharing, despite not wanting to tell anyone what my dreams are, or what I’m up to. (life of a turtle challenged by breaking out of my hard shell). 😉
OK, here it is.. I’ll commit to blogging my book, first starting with creating a blog, like you, I’m motivated by being held accountable.. and find a blog buddy that will hold me accountable, would you be my blog buddy? Another big intention is to create my keynote speech and give a practice run at it in March at my local TM club. I just got your Create Your Keynote by Next Week CD’s so I will put time in my calendar every day to listen to it and use it! Darren, I’m excited to see your movie!! 🙂 Thanks for your inspiration!
Hello Daren ,
Best article you have ever done .So proud of you. Writing, from 40000 feet on way home from Speakers seminar, book signing and promotion.. Your message is right in line with the message in the book, DON’t DIE. /. 3 essential truths for your fulfilled and happy life, ( regardless of your age ).
Will commit to watching you progress toward this exceptional worthwhile goal. DON’T wait to long I want to be on RED CARPET for opening night. ALL THE BEST PAPA SOOB
Love it! THANKS! I appreciate it.
I have known about lucid dreaming for about 10 years, but this past October I decided to get serious about becoming a regular lucid dreamer, and I have been writing down my dreams every morning to start progressing toward my goal. I’m not going to stop until I achieve it.
I wish you good fortune on your screenwriting and movie making agenda.
I have 1 question for you – you mentioned in this article that you met with your mastermind group, is that a group like the ones described by Napoleon Hill? I guess a 2nd goal that I have would be to start or join a mastermind group of my own. Did you start the one that you are in? How many people are in it?
Thanks Charlie. Yes, the mastermind group I’m in is modeled after what Napoleon Hill describes.
I suggest going back the book and brushing up on it. I usually am in a group with 3-4 people. Invite people who as goal oriented to join you!
CONGRATS on your commitment to YOU and your dream.
I get your emails all the time but this one got my attention. Every year in January I create a dream poster and nail it to the wall. This year I have been dragging my feet and have not done it yet. Your article has given me the boost of excitement that I needed. Rarely do I read the full length of articles because I have so many other things to do. But your article on “17 minutes to your dream” captured my attention and I read the entire piece TWICE!. I applaud you for following your dream and being accountable to it. I will follow your lead and become accountable to my dream. So first order of business will be to create my dream poster and nail it to the wall. Then I will learn how to blog and create one. In the meantime, I will follow your blog each day for inspiration. I know very little about football but I do know when someone is running with the ball you cheer them on. So to you I say “GO DARREN GO”!!!
Loved this article, which resonates. Reminds me of the BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goals)mentioned in Collins’ “Good to Great”. The points that I like in the article: you’re breaking it down to 17 minutes a day; the example of Rudy, and your own journey. As we keep you accountable, in a sense we’ll be keeping ourselves accountable. All the best on your journey … I look forward to the film.
Hey, good luck with your big dream, Darren, and thanks for sharing it with us!
Wow, there are so many things I want to respond to from this article. The first being when you so casually mentioned the screenplay in Vancouver this weekend. I took note but didn’t think too much of it BECAUSE I HONESTLY EXPECT NO LESS FROM YOU. I thought “Oh, Darren’s working on another project!” I see it, I believe it, I expect it. You walk the walk LaCroix, it’s my favourite thing about you (besides you being a Catholic).
The second thing I want to say is ROOOOOO DEE! ROOOOOOO DEE! ROOOOOOO DEE! I LOVE that movie! I’ve seen it so many times I could probably repeat the entire flick verbatim and it STILL makes me cry. Way to go for taking the initiative to meet him.
That’s how I felt with YOU. It was a dream of mine to meet you and perform with you (and I was your “arms” in Harrison last spring). I’d like to go bigger than that one day too.
The third thing I want to mention is that you already kicked me in the ass at the end of December. This blog post
really made me think about what I was doing to make my dreams happen. As I mentioned to you last weekend, my resolutions this year were to go to bed at a decent hour (11:30), begin every day with 15 minutes of prayer and to stop swearing so ****** much! These are not dreams but things I need to do, that I know I have to do to make my dreams happen. They are the hard work of the dreams. The things I know that I can slough off easily to my utter detriment.
Last year, the day after the World Championship of Public Speaking, I started a blog and publicly declared my intention to go after the title in Cincinnatti. I know, me and 5000 other people eh? Whatever. The fact is I know I am better accountable to others than myself too and I am willing to do what I have to do to say “No one has out-prepared me.”
LaCroix, you have no idea what you mean to me. The very first time I saw you on a DVD 3.5 years ago, I knew you were the man. And when you publicly talked about the idea for the fall on your face coming to you during Mass, I knew you were the Real Thing. Watching you inspired me. It was the first time I ever had a big dream whispered to me. I heard “You can do that.”
God has used you in my life for many things already now but the first was to show me that funny could be done without being crass or cruel and could even be done to be beautiful and uplifting as “Ouch” was.
I have no doubt whatsoever in my mind as to what you are capable of. I’m glad you are beginning to see the same. God bless you brother!
I have been thinking how to be a speaker and found that recently that speaking is not really speaking but living with the message that you want to speak. If you have a message to speak, you need to live the message before speaking as Confucius said. Otherwise, speaking becomes only making noise. Words have power only if deeds support them. Thank you Darren for making it clear.
Re your “17 Minutes” article . . . Several years ago I saw a sign in the front lawn of a church nearby our home that I’ve never forgotten. It said, simply, “If you’re looking for a sign from God, here it is!”
Hi Darren, have followed you for years. Enjoy your articles and videos. Decided to try writing the 17 minutes aday with you. Will check with you for your progress and let you know aabout mine.
May God add his blessing to the attainment of that dream! You are an inspiration.
I am grateful to you for sharing your inspirational thoughts with us! I want you to know that I, too, have a song in my heart that I need to put on paper and I have given it a draft title, “Songs from my Heart to Yours!” Unfortunately, I needed to be inspired and you have nudged me to start pushing my pen to get the book written! I like your 17 Minutes a day commitment and I will try to do the same! Thank you again for making me accountable to my dreams!
This post is super inspiring! Excited to know that you’re writing the screenplay for your own Hollywood movie. Pls continue to go for your dream as you’re the inspiration of many people, including me.
Inspired by you, I’m gonna make my own commitment. My big ‘they’re going to think I’m crazy’ dream is to create my own web TV show on presentations, with audience’s all around the world. I will take a step forward everyday to make my dream come true. 🙂
Your BIG supporter,
Go for it. If not who? Yes the new is scary but oh so satisfying. A new project, a new vision; how
exciting. I’m jealous.
You can do it by taking those small steps each day. There are a number of motivational quotes that apply – “how to eat an elephant” for example. One of my favorites is “add a little to a little and pretty soon you will have a big pile.”
I followed this advice while working for my PhD which I completed in 2000 at the age of 62.
As my good friend Croix Sather, who ran across the USA in 2011, says “Dream Big, Act Big!”. I’m sure you will accomplish great things and develop strong habits along the way !
Just think, Darren, in a few months you’ll up the ante to 18 minutes.
Question: what IS the big dream? Is life a series of big dreams, or should it be just one?
I achieved A big dream about five years ago .. invent and run the longest unicycle race in history. Mission accomplished. Along with a great team “Ride The Lobster” was, and still is, the longest — 800km, 5 days, 140 participants, 12 countries, 20,000 website hits per day.
So, do I stop with that dream realized? No. Your 17 minutes a day inspired me to continue to pursue my next big dream.
Hi Darren! My name is La Tanya Hayward. I’m embarassed to say, I’m unemployed and have been for a year however, my big dream is to be a professional public speaker and author. I have had this dream for years but life has always seem to limit me in some way financially. Now that I am 50 years of age, I am persuing my dream chanting everyday, I CAN DO THIS! Yesterday morning I prayed to God to help me realize my dream. I do not want to leave this earth without succeeding. I have an eleven year old daughter who sees her father and I struggle financially week to week to pay the rent and put food on the table. It hurts me so bad because I am a very gifted and talented writer and speaker. So I have written 2 chapters of my first book that I am very proud of and I have become a member of the WorldChampionsEdge website. I am also a new member of our local Toastmasters in Brunswick, Maine. You have inspired me to write 17 minutes or more a day to reach my dream of completing my book. I don’t know the how of becoming a public speaker, professionally but being that I am making every effort that I know at this time to learn all that I can about this art and moving forward, I am trusting that God, the Universe will take care of the how. It isn’t easy when I look at what is around me everyday in our struggles. I have written on paper a vision of what I want for my life and the life of my family daily to keep it in my mind’s eye instead of what I currently see. This vision includes my own home, travel, multiple streams of income, being self-employed and being happy. Reading all that you have accomplished helps me to know that dreams and dreaming big can come true. Thank you so much for what you are doing! You are truly an inspiration to me. I am so glad to find your blog! God bless you Darren!
Darren, again you continue to lead the way in exhibiting your undeniable motivation to achieve your dream – and you have the innate ability to think BIG. Congratulations, and I look forward to following your progress and cheering you on.
The image that comes to mind is the training and the running of a Marathon – and you train very well and you run very well. It is not about running it in 2:10 yet it is about exceeding your own personal best and your ability to stick with it and most importantly – finishing. God speed my friend.
I’m a serious dreamer too. Thank you for the inspiration 🙂
One of the things I like about you is you are always doing… Always trying something new. This is NEW!
Although I’ve come in in the middle of it, I’ll be reading back-posts and watching your youtube videos. Not to see if you make it in the end, but how your life is changes along the way. I’m actually inspired by the fact that you didn’t become a comic headliner. Just like Rudy only played the last 2 plays of the last game of his career. Success is about what we can do, not what someone else could have done in our place.
Fantastic article, very inspiring. Set up a goal and pursue the goal relentlessly… you showed us the way.
I have been wanting to write, write insightfully and trenchantly, yet, I haven’t started. Now I think it is the time to start. I hold myself accountable now.
Great idea. I’m finally catching up on watching the videos.
I saw you earlier this week in Gent and got your first quote in my mailbox this morning, one by Vincent van Gogh about the voice in your head telling you you are not a painter. That brought me this web page and that resulted in my first YouTube selfie. It was something I knew I needed to get into … one day. Thanks to you that day was today. Thank you for that!
So … this is your doing 🙂
My big dream? I have decided to become a professional speaker. That’s why I’m on your site in the first place!
But I’m not quite sure if reading your blog is me working on my dream, or if it’s me avoiding to REALLY work on it 😉
Darren, I’m grateful for your guidance and inspiration.
Darren, I love this blog. Most people make excuses. You are making progress. Seventeen minutes a day is 17 more minutes than most people spend on their dreams. Go for it! My dream is to write a book this year. I need to invest in that dream daily to make it happen. Thanks for the reminder!
You are such an inspiration already!!
I can’t wait to see your movie! My goal that won’t stop reverberating in my heart and soul?
TedX- you and the coaches at
Stage Time University really helped
me get my TedX built. Now, I need to take your advice, Apply everywhere, apply to EVERY Tedx conference so you are doing ALL you can to get your message of “connect” out in the world.
I commit to 17 minutes a week, working on this.
Make it happen!
I LOVE that quote from Marianne Williamson and actually used it in my goodbye video to my work colleagues when I left my 9-5 job to be an actor and voice over artist full-time, less than two weeks ago!
Roughly 10 years ago I took your “Get Paid to Speak” Bootcamp in Calgary, Canada and then the “Get Coached to Speak” Bootcamp in Vegas. I remember us sitting in a circle on the last day and you said something like: “you have to get out there and share your thing”. Me, being an emotional person, was shedding some tears and nodding in agreement.
Although I did not fly home from that event to become a highly paid speaker, I did end up going back to school to get my 4-year acting degree, all while working full time, then getting my first engagements as an actor and later also as a voice over talent. Finally, the moment came where I booked a larger engagement and my workplace was no longer willing to provide me with unpaid leave opportunities to accommodate my absence during rehearsal and performances. I had to make a decision. Just like you, I asked the Universe for a sign. The sign came in a call from a director offering me a second acting job. On the day I got that phone call, I went home and wrote my resignation letter.
Is it scary as heck to step into a massive change in your life? Of course! But there comes a point where staying in the safe zone of the flower bud is more painful than daring to blossom. I left my job of ten years where I could easily have stayed untll retirement and had a “good” career. But I was dying on the inside because I knew I was not doing what I came on this earth to do. As an actor and voice over artist, I give a voice to otherwise voiceless characters, I get to touch people with all kinds of emotions, I get to move people and maybe even touch a life here and there; that’s what I came here to do.
So I have declared it my mission to vulnerably share my gifts to inspire others to shine their own bright light. Shine bright my friend! And once I have moved to Vancouver this fall (another big scary change I am working towards), I will keep an eye open for that audition call when your movie is being cast 🙂
Go for it Darren! I will forward this email to the president and VPE of my Toastmasters club (TTC) in Taichung, Taiwan. Blessings!
Thanks for the blog. It is very beneficial for me at a time in my life that many of the factors you stated in the “17 mins. . .” blog are applicable to me. I need to get busy and am doing so.
This was “Right On Time!” This morning I returned home after praying and walking. I think discovering this blog is truly an answer to prayer.
I’m a DTM and have attended some workshops you gave here in Central Florida. I also have many years of experience in development for film and television, and currently teach Business of Film at Full Sail University. It sounds like you’re getting great advice from people in the entertainment business. But please contact me if you think I can help.