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The entire Navigate the Chaos collection of all 365 blog posts is now available in a paperback entitled Navigate the Chaos (795 pages for $24.99). A smaller collection of thoughts from the Navigate the Chaos collection is available in paperback entitled Wonder (94 pages for $4.99)

How often do you realize it is never too late to start?

Today is July 16 and the Navigate the Chaos question to consider is “how often do you remind yourself it is never too late to start?” Those who translate their dreams into reality understand two basic principles: you need as many dreams as it would take you two lifetimes to achieve and it is never too late to dream.

At 23, Tina Fey was working at a YMCA.

At 24, Stephen King was working as a janitor and living in a trailer.

At 27, Vincent Van Gogh failed as a missionary and decided to go to art school.

At 28, J.K. Rowling was a struggling single parent living on welfare.

At 30, Harrison Ford was a carpenter.

At 37, Ang Lee was a stay-at-home-dad working odd jobs.

At 39, Julia Child released her first cookbook and got her cooking show at age 51.

At 40, Vera Wang designed her first dress.

At 40, Stan Lee released his first big comic book.

At 42, Alan Rickman gave up his graphic design career to pursue acting.

At 42, Samuel L. Jackson got his first movie role.

At 51 Leonardo Da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa.

At 52, Morgan Freeman landed his first major movie role.

At 53 Ray Kroc bought the McDonalds franchise and took it to unprecedented levels.

At 54 Dr. Seuss wrote "The Cat in the Hat".

At 57, Kathryn Bigelow achieved global success when she made The Hurt Locker.

At 59, Kawasaki Shozo founded Kawasaki.

At 61, Charles Flint founded IBM.

At 62, Col. Harland Sanders founded KFC.

At 76, Grandma Moses began her painting career.

Many of those on the list had multiple careers. Some started over in an entirely different field. Some quit and changed directions. They all had one thing in common – they kept going and believed it was never too late to start.

American ballet dancer Misty Danielle Copeland said “You can start late. Look different. Be uncertain. And still succeed. The opportunities are out there. You just have to believe in yourself and not let anyone's words come in and define you and change your path. You are going to hear 'no' in life no matter what you do. You just have to keep pushing and persevering. And I think it's important to know that it doesn't matter what your skin color is, or your body shape is. Whatever you want to do, you should go for it.” She did.

Copeland tells her story in Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina. She started learning ballet at 13 years of age, much later than when most dancers start, taking her first class on a basketball court at a Boys and Girls Club. Since most dancers take up to 15 years to get the right amount of training to make it to a professional level by 17 years of age, she had to shove all of that into four years. By age 15, her mother and ballet teachers, who were serving as her custodial guardians, fought a very public custody battle over her.

The 1998 legal issues involved filings for emancipation by Copeland and restraining orders by her mother. Both sides dropped legal proceedings, and Copeland moved home to begin studying under a new teacher who was a former American Ballet Theater (ABT) member. In 1997, Copeland won the Los Angeles Music Center Spotlight Award as the best dancer in Southern California. After two summer workshops with ABT, she became a member of ABT's Studio Company in 2000 and its corps de ballet in 2001 and became an ABT soloist in 2007. As a soloist from 2007 to mid-2015, she was described as having matured into a more contemporary and sophisticated dancer.

On June 30, 2015, Copeland became the first African American woman to be promoted to principal dancer in ABT's 75-year history. With a non-traditional entry into ballet, Copeland has created buzz outside of that world due to her being one of the few African American performers seen in classical dance. In a meteoric rise, she has continually acknowledged the responsibility she feels to others looking to make their way in dance. Her trailblazing accomplishments have been recognized by a range of institutions, and in spring 2015 she was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People. How often do you feel as though you are starting too late, think you look too different, or remain uncertain?

Whatever your dreams are is, it is not too late to achieve them. Never tell yourself you are too old to make it. Never tell yourself you missed your chance. Never tell yourself that you are not good enough. As C.S. Lewis noted "You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream."

  • How often do you remind yourself that you are never too old to follow your dreams?

  • Is someone in your life telling you it is too late to pursue one of your dreams?

  • Have you stopped pursuing a goal because you told yourself you were too old?

  • Has someone told you that you were too told to try something?

  • Do you have enough dreams for two lifetimes to achieve?

  • Have you ever told someone it is too late for them to start something?

  • If you have trouble setting a new goal or dreaming a new dream, why do you think that is?


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