Posted by: coachingparents | January 22, 2009


By Lloyd J. Thomas, Ph.D.

Eighty years ago, the Great American Dream was to work hard, get a
good education, prepare yourself to take advantage of the tremendous
opportunities available in America, become financially successful, and
leave what you created to your children so they would be better off
than you were.

Fifty years ago, the Great American Dream evolved into: living in a
house in the suburbs, having two cars and two-point-three children,
working forty hours per week or less, having a salary which steadily
increased regardless of your performance, acquiring more paid-vacation
days, spending all of your money and more on consumer goods,
increasing your debt load by borrowing more than you earned and
waiting to retire on Social Security.

Today, I suspect the Great American Dream is to win the lottery, or
at least to be given enough money after high school or college to
maintain the lifestyle given by your parents.  Given  the current
economy however, today’s American Dream is much more than a desire to
“get rich quick.”  Our unemployment rate is high.  The number of
homeless Americans is higher than ever.  People are having to make
decisions between food and medicine.  Food banks are empty…even
after this “season of giving.”  The “dream” is to be lucky enough to
win: the Lottery, Lotto, Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes; at
Atlantic City or Las Vegas; the Irish Sweepstakes; at robbing others
legally or illegally; or waiting long enough to access to your
“rightful inheritance.”

Children dream these days of becoming a sports super-hero, a film
star, or a lucky gambler, not by working hard at their own character
or skill development, but by being in the right place at the right
time, and “discovered” by a person, parent or business with unlimited
money, who will give it to them merely because they want or need it. 
After all, they are “entitled.”  Conspicuous by its absence within the
current American Dream, is the element of “hard work,” and good
character, let alone self-discipline, responsibility and regular

Someone once said, “Luck is that spot where opportunity meets
  If you are not personally prepared, when the
opportunity arrives, you will not be able to grasp it.  For seven
years, Jeff Hostettler was the back-up quarterback for the New York
Giants.  For seven years, he prepared, practiced and sacrificed, as if
he were the starting quarterback.  For seven years, he never threw a
pass that had any influence on the outcome of a football game.  For
seven years, he was self-disciplined enough to keep himself ready to
perform.  Then, one day, Phil Simms, the starting quarterback, was
injured.  Hostettler’s opportunity had arrived.  Was he prepared to
take advantage of it?  Had what he had prepared himself for, from
seven years of hope and determination, finally occurred?  You bet! 
Was it luck that made his dream come true?  Not at all!  It was when
the opportunity met his preparedness.  And his hope, dreams and good
character had sustained him for seven long years.

In all of life, there are sequential phases of growth or
.  If you don’t complete the first phase, you cannot
acquire the second, third or fourth.  This fundamental law of
evolutionary process applies to physical things, learning, personal
and interpersonal growth.  And there are no shortcuts.  Like the
activity necessary to reap a harvest of corn, one has to follow a
certain sequence of activities.  First you prepare the ground, plant
the seed, fertilize and water.  Only after you have engaged in these
behaviors can you expect to have the harvest.

Motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar, writes, “You have to be before you
can do.  And you have to do before you can have.”  Long-term success
in any endeavor, whether it be personal, interpersonal,
organizational, business or sport, is determined by the process which
preceded it.  You need to become the person you dream of.  Then you
need to practice doing those activities which necessarily precede your
dream.  Then and only then, will you have your dream come true.

Dreams are wonderful, and necessary to have.  But it is only after
you engage in certain sequential activities, like regular practice,
character development, hard work, self-discipline, focused learning,
and responsibility, can you hope to reap the harvest of your dreams
fulfilled.  No one nor nothing will hand you your success.  Only you
can engage in the necessary process to attain your own Great American
Dream.  To paraphrase a current slogan, “Just become it.  Then, just
do it.  Then, you can have it.”


Lloyd J. Thomas, Ph.D. has 30+ years experience as a Life Coach and
Licensed Psychologist.  He is available for coaching in any area
presented in “Practical Psychology.”  Initial coaching sessions are
free.  Contact him: (970) 568-0173 or E-mail: or

Dr. Thomas is a licensed psychologist, author, speaker, and life
coach.  He serves on the faculty of the International University of
Professional Studies. He recently co-authored (with Patrick Williams)
the book: “Total Life Coaching: 50+ Life Lessons, Skills and
Techniques for Enhancing Your Practice…and Your Life!” (W.W. Norton
2005) It is available at your local bookstore or on


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