Inspire Possibility, Do The Impossible

When I first walked away from the game of football, I was lost. It was both an exciting time but also extremely terrifying. I desired to explore what it was like to be free from the thing that I’d spent my entire life pursuing greatness at but that also brought a feeling of uncertainty I hadn’t yet experienced. A piece of me was gone forever.

I accomplished something that most people can only dream of, something so statistically improbable, it seemed out of the realm of possibility for me. When I first started playing football, I was consistently reminded of the long odds of making it to the NFL, let alone what it would take to become a starter and play for 8 years. This was by no means an easy task. The journey challenged me to dig deep into my soul, to keep going even though, at times, I felt like giving up. I experienced levels of adversity, challenge and hardship that most would be unable or unwilling to navigate, lessons that brought me to the edge of what I thought I was capable of and experiences that brought me face to face with the deeper parts of my being. I was told that it was going to be impossible and that’s what made it a worthy endeavor.

For some reason, I’ve always been inspired by the impossible. When I was younger I loved watching movies like The Patriot, Gladiator, and Armeggedon. These movies INSPIRE me. All of them trigger something deep within my soul, a desire to answer some sort of deeper calling, not for the accolades or to achieve success in the eyes of the world but to feel a sense of inspiration within myself.

What does it mean to be inspired?

In-spirit-ed - to be in spirit. To follow the whisper of your soul. And, of course, your spirit is going to take you on a journey towards what you think is impossible. How else would you have the opportunity to embody courage and discover who you truly are?

Inspiration and courage are so closely linked. You can’t feel one without the other.

Playing football gave me the arena to push myself into the impossible, to show me who I was and what I was capable of. But towards the end of my career, I’d lost the drive to keep going. Maybe it’s because I had accomplished everything that I could on the football field. I was one of the best in the world and although I could’ve kept pushing myself to improve in the smallest of increments each year, I’d made it to the end of the road. I knew it was time for a new challenge, one that would inspire me to strive for yet another impossible task. Something fresh, new and scary.

That journey began with an idea to take a road trip across the country; a journey into the unknown, an opportunity to discover parts of myself not yet explored. The scary part came when I felt called to share the entire experience via a written online blog. The only problem was, I didn’t believe I could write.

It was early March 2018, as I sat down at my computer. I was gearing up to hit the road in just a few short weeks on an epic adventure, ready to explore the country in my recently acquired 2007 E-350 converted sportsmobile van with my rescue dog Freedom. I was extremely excited about the opportunity that laid before me and I felt called to share the experience with the world. The simplest way for me to do this, I thought, would be to start a written online blog chronicling my journey. I bought the domain name manvandogblog.com, found a designer to create a logo and paid a web developer to make it look pretty, everything was set, all it needed now was a simple blog post from me.

As I sat in front of my computer, I could hardly contain my excitement for what was about to transpire. I thought the words would just start flowing out of me but, instead, the document remained blank. Minutes felt like hours. As I stared at the blank screen, urging the thoughts to present themselves, nothing came. I was stuck. And then, all of a sudden, the inner dialogue of fear, doubt and limiting beliefs started flooding into my awareness.

For as long as I could remember, I had a belief that I couldn’t write. I never excelled in school, especially in English class. Somewhere, deep in my subconscious, a story was implanted that I wasn’t a good writer. And so, I never wrote. EVER. Not even in a journal.

I tried to write in a journal once. I judged myself so horribly, it was crippling. The fear of what someone might think if they ever read it, consumed me. I desired to journal more and so what I decided to do was write quotes and passages from incredible books and other great thinkers in my journal. But never did I write my own original thoughts or feelings.

So, as I sat in front of my computer, ready to write my first ever blog post for Man Van Dog Blog, the excitement quickly turned to dread. How was I going to be a travel blogger if I couldn’t even write a simple post? My desire to share my journey via a written blog seemed so out of the realm of possibility, which then stirred up all of my deep seated insecurities. I was really close to throwing the whole idea down the drain. (I’d still travel but was thinking about scrapping the entire blog idea). Luckily, before all was lost, I came up with another idea and I was able to pivot.

Growing up, I enjoyed creating and editing videos for my skateboarder friends, school projects and youth ministry. I had a knack for creative video editing, putting shots together and using a camera. I knew that vlogging (video blogging) on YouTube might be a more accessible option for me. And I was right. Although it took me some time to get in the flow, I really enjoyed sharing my journey through this medium. It felt less vulnerable although I rarely talked into the camera directly. It was mostly just cool edits and dope shots of my trip across the country. (You can check out the videos from my trip on YouTube.)

The reason I’m sharing all of this with you is because I’m currently in the process of writing a book. Something I thought was so out of the realm of possibility for me just a few years ago. I couldn’t even write a simple blog post, and now, I’m tackling the daunting task of writing a 50,000 word book about my journey. This has not been an easy task. The idea for this book has been 3 years in the making. Like football, it’s provided me with an enormous amount of growth, lessons, and healing. It’s been one of the most challenging undertakings of my entire life.

I started journaling everyday. I used positive affirmations to reframe my limiting beliefs (even if they were hard to believe at the time). And I’ve continued confronting my fears, insecurities and doubts about myself and what I believe I’m capable of. It’s been extremely difficult. But I’ve kept going.

There’s something about pursuing the impossible that inspires me. I was told countless times how difficult it would be to make it to the NFL and play with the best in the world. I went on that journey to prove to everyone else that I was good enough. When I achieved that goal and finally walked away from the game, I was confronted with another impossibility - becoming an author. And now, I’m going on this journey to prove to myself that I’m capable of anything.

We are the creators of our reality, capable of more than we can even imagine. In a reality of infinite potential and possibilities, the only thing that makes something impossible is if you believe it to be so. You are that powerful. So shift your belief and get to work.

Become the creator of your own story. And inspire possibility.

From one inspired soul to another,
Joseph Hawley

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