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Achieving Your Dreams Against All Odds

Achieving Your Dreams Against All Odds

PAUL MCNEAL

I’ve been incredibly fortunate to accomplish so much in my short time here on earth. From my first job as a burger flipper at Dairy Queen in Dallas Texas at the age of 15 to Business Owner/Realtor/Brand Evangelist/Mentor in Northern Virginia. I’ve been blessed to have traveled the world (literally) under the ocean via submarines in the United States Navy, on a mission trip with my church and traveling for leisure. I began working at 15 years old and have never been without a job since. However, I’ve experienced many struggles along the way.

One day, I had a dream. No, it was not a dream like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., instead it was a dream to escape a place where life was a consistent and never ending struggle. My family struggled financially to make ends meet. My parents divorced when I was seven years old, so I grew up without a father. My mother worked day and night (multiple jobs) to ensure she kept a roof over my head, food in my stomach, and clothes on my back. My sister was left to ensure I was raised with some values and ethics, so of course we fought endlessly. I didn’t have much growing up but I knew I wanted more out of life. There was something that resonated in my soul that told me that life didn’t have to be this way, that life could be better. It was in those times that I promised myself that one day, I would escape this nightmare and never return again. I dreamed of a day where I could give instead of take.

I still remember the time and day when I asked my mother, while sitting on the bed in my room to buy me a moped. She looked at me and said, “If you want a moped, you must work to earn it.” It was the first time, a job or work was ever mentioned to me in order for me to get something I wanted. See, $499 for a moped at that time would be nearly equivalent to me asking my mother to purchase me my first car. My mother and father both worked in fast food management their entire lives.

So that is exactly what I did, I went to work. I would study before school and after work. I was determined to get a moped and within a year of working, the yellow Suzuki moped was mine! In time, I bought my first car the same way.

This was the first time I begin to clearly see how working would allow me to achieve my dream of escaping from the place I grew up. Through all of the difference places I’ve worked and traveled, I’ve learned some incredible lessons that I’d like to share with you, lessons that I’ve attributed to my success and helped me achieve my dream.

Lesson #1. Be Ready, Willing and Able (RWA). Throughout my life, opportunities have come my way. From the time I started working at 15, to my entry into the US Navy, to my working for a government contractor, to starting my own business, to mentoring young entrepreneurs, I’ve been RWA. Many time folks miss out on things because they are not ready, willing or able.

Lesson #2. Your Network Can Influence your Net Worth. At a very young age, I was always interested in meeting other people. You can say networking was etched into my genetic code. Be aware and prepared to care for those around you. Give before you take. When you do, it will come back to you.

Lesson #3. Volunteer to Do the Work. When I served in the United States Navy, there was a saying: “Never Again Volunteer Yourself (NAVY).” I quickly learned that this was not wise advice. When you volunteer, you decide what job you will do. Why wait for someone to assign you one? Take the lead!

Lesson #4. Self-Educate. We are all conditioned to go to college to get an education. I wasn’t able to attend college because the funds were not available. But this didn’t limit my ability to learn. Instead, I started reading. I’ve spent the better part of my years reading and putting to action personal development materials and anything that would provide me skills.

Lesson #5. Be Flexible. I once heard a story about when a monsoon came and the big strong oak tree was destroyed but the blade of grass survived. Learn to bend with situations in life. Be humble, not arrogant.

Lesson #6. Be Frugal. This lesson was taught to me when I was 22 years old by an 18-year-old. At the time I had zero in the bank and bills to my name. He had $20K in the bank, debt free. This woke me up to the game called saving. It was foreign practice to me because my family lived paycheck to paycheck.

Lesson #7. Create Value and Make a Difference. I was provided this advice by Roman Price. Find a way to make something people want or provide a service that they need. Make it beneficial so they buy it. Make it solve a problem.

Applying these lessons to your life will provide you a solid foundation in which to build a life of success on. You will be effective in your dealings with others and experience true happiness. So, if you want to achieve your dreams: be ready, give before you get, work hard, keep learning, be flexible, save before you spend, and solve problems.

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