Don’t you just love dreamers and their dreamer stories?
I sure do!
I love meeting, talking to, and especially, learning from those dreamers who have gone before me. Those dreamers who have paved the way for those of us who follow behind.
Dreamers abound and you just never know when you’re going to bump up against another dreamer and his story.
Daniel Nava is one of those dreamers.
As a short, skinny, “just not good enough,” youngster, he dreamed of playing baseball. At first, he didn’t even dare to dream about the Major Leagues, but his dream was going to take him farther than he ever could have imagined.
Daniel Nava’s life and the pursuit of his dream have provided me with some great lessons.
When Daniel Nava graduated from high school he was too small to make his college baseball team. Instead, he accepted the position of team manager and became the “go-fer” boy. One of his jobs included washing the rest of the team’s uniforms and work out gear.
I think I would have quit!
Scratch that… I know I would have quit!
Lesson #1 for dreamers: Just because it isn’t happening right now… Don’t run away from your dream.
It would have been easy for Nava to quit. It would have been understandable to walk away.
Washing uniforms… You’ve got to be kidding me.
But even though his dream seemed finished, Daniel Nava stayed right there beside it. He still lived and loved his baseball dream, albeit from the sidelines.
Dreamers don’t run away when the first answer is NO.
After a few years of lifting weights and continuing to hone his baseball skills, Daniel Nava found himself with the Chico Outlaws.
Ever hear of the Chico Outlaws? Nope, me neither.
Lesson #2 for dreamers: Just because your dream doesn’t have a huge audience doesn’t mean that it isn’t happening.
Daniel Nava’s dream was to play baseball. He didn’t limit his dream by putting parameters on it.
Parameters like: I need to make money.
Or, I want people to notice me.
Or, there’s a limit to how small the arena of my dream can be.
Dreamers take every opportunity to live out their dream. They live their dream in small arenas and large arenas. They live their dream where others can see and in relative obscurity. They live their dream not for money, but for the sake of the dream.
Dreamers live their dream because they love their dream.
Unbelievably, the Red Sox acquired Daniel Nava for $1.00. They figured he might be a good minor league fit and for a dollar, they could hardly go wrong.
They made a good deal!
True to his never-give-up character, Nava worked, improved, and excelled in the minor leagues.
In 2010, Daniel Nava was called up to the big leagues. As he approached the plate for his first at-bat, his father and mother were racing up the steps in the stands.
They had supported his dream for years. I’m sure they ached with every rejection and rejoiced with every success. Now, they were here to share his big moment.
No one expected what came next.
On the very first pitch, with three men on base, Daniel Nava crushed the ball.
A Grand Slam!
The crowd went wild. His parents went wild. It was a little boy’s dream come true!
Yep, a dream come true for the exact amount of time it took Nava to run the bases. But a single hit doesn’t make a baseball career…
Lesson #3 for dreamers: A single event is never the dream.
True dreams are bigger than one hit.
Or one book.
Or one speech, or play, or piece of art.
One big moment may kick-start a dream, but that moment is never the end.
Daniel Nava’s dream wasn’t to hit a grand slam, (although I’m pretty sure he was thrilled when he did so).No, his dream was to make it in baseball to have a platform in order to reach out to others.
So do you know what he did after that grand slam? He kept working, and improving, and struggling, and succeeding.
He had some wonderfully high moments and some discouraging low moments as he traveled back and forth between the big leagues and the minor leagues. But still, he just kept working toward his dream.
Lesson #4 for dreamers: Regardless of how spectacular the kick-off of a dream, real dreams take work. Hard, day-by-day, “why can’t it be easy?” work.
Game by game, at bat after at bat, Daniel Nava built a reputation for himself. His example motivated boys all over the country. Diligently chasing his own dream was encouraging other people to pursue their dreams.
In April of 2013, the city of Boston mourned the victims of the Boston Bombing. The Red Sox honored those victims in the first game following the bombing. Players and fans alike stood silent in respect and honor.
America’s Pastime provided an escape from the sorrow of the moment.
With two men on base, the Red Sox’ most unlikely dreamer stepped up to the plate. With one swing of the bat he sent the ball into the stands. The crowd was ecstatic!
Their dreamer had done it again.
Daniel Nava said this in an interview with Joseph Kahn: “I personally believe I’m here to do more that play baseball. I’ll never have all the answers, but I think I can help others with motivation and inspiration.”
His dream lives on… Bigger than baseball… Bigger than the Big Leagues…And, bigger than a skinny, scrawny kid from California could have ever imagined.
Daniel Nava’s teammates have adopted a saying regarding their friend. They say, “Never say Nava”.
When it comes to our dreams… Never say Nava, indeed!
Do you know some dreamers? Ask them their stories. Their “lessons learned” will be some of your most valuable tools as you strive to realize your own dreams.