Don’t Stop Believing

I swore to myself that I would never tell this story to anyone!

When I was in grade 11, I was getting ready to move to British Columbia from Calgary.  I had a challenging childhood and wasn’t happy with the trajectory my life was currently on.  I wanted the move to be a new beginning, a new improved chapter, a change in the way I was leading my life.  Ironically, weeks before the move my social studies teacher gave our class a speech I’ve never forgotten.  This lesson remains firmly embedded in my mind, even though I have forgotten 98% of everything else he taught us.

He told us not to lose our youthful optimistic view of what we could accomplish in our lives.  He added that as kids we look out to our future through a lens of hopefulness that unfortunately fades with time.  He went on to say that as we enter adulthood we will experience our share of failures, disappointments and heartaches.  Unfortunately, these experiences start to wear us down until our optimism fades to pessimism, and we eventually view the world through jaded glasses.

I couldn’t help but notice how more passionately he gave this lesson, over and above every other lesson he gave.  Then he surprised me by challenging us to hang on to that spirit.  He practically begged us not to lose our grip on this mindset.  As he stated that last part the change in his demeanor was palpable, almost a level of sadness.  In that moment I vowed to myself that I would never lose sight of the confident enthusiasm for my future that I currently had.  His final advice was to use something external in our environment as a reminder of what he told us that day and I committed to do exactly that.

At one point I was moving within days and I couldn’t think of anything appropriate enough to be my reminder.  The days past and I was completely at a loss, for lack of any ideas I was thinking of getting a tattoo (I’m glad I didn’t, it was going to be the peace symbol).

On the second night before the move I was staying over at a friend’s house still perplexed and trying to think of this elusive reminder.  My friend was a talented musician (eventually was signed by a music label) and wanted to show me a song he was doing at a talent night show.  He pulled out a keyboard and began the melodic piano music I instantly recognized as “Don’t Stop Believing” by the rock band Journey.  I couldn’t have asked for a more applicable reminder.  By the time he was done the song I committed to using that song as my reminder – every time I heard it I would use it to remember what my teacher had said.  Over the years I’ve heard it many times and every single time it reminds me of that lesson.

Then an interesting thing happened.  I was at one of my lowest points in my life, everything seemed to seem to have gone wrong.  I was more than upset at myself.  I always prided myself on being a visionary, but in that moment I viewed everything going wrong in my life as a result of what I then thought was a pipe dreamer.  I rationalized that I was older now and should stop chasing the brass ring.  With a wife and children now I no longer had the luxury of indulging in the pursuit of impossible dreams.  For the first time in my life I truly gave up on my childhood goals.  And then just as this last thought passed through my mind, from the radio came the melodic piano music of my reminder.  The song came on and everything my teacher said flooded back to me.  I realized I had become the jaded soul he warned me about and in that moment I once again strengthened my resolve to always be in hot pursuit of my dreams.

I challenge you to find a reminder as well, or use mine, to remember what my teacher said.

~ William Deveau, Business Coach

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2 Responses to “Don’t Stop Believing”

  1. Angela West-Roots Says:

    …excellent blog post William, I wish you had the time to post more often 🙂

  2. Beth Ross Says:

    Thank you William, great story. ‘Believing’

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