Simplicity: Have a great dream

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A dreamTrevor Gay explores the lessons we can learn from having a dream - and relates his own story about achieving and delivering a great dream.

This is a story about achieving and delivering your great dream.

When I was 18 most of my 'loves' were sports. My greatest love was (and still is) soccer and second came table tennis. Through regular and dedicated practice I'd managed to achieve a good performance level that meant I was playing table tennis at county standard. I also discovered within me, a desire to coach younger players.

I lived in a village and travelled seven miles to the nearest town to play for my table tennis team three or four times per week. One day I thought what a great thing it would be to have a table tennis club in my village. This would provide an opportunity for me to test whether I had the ability to coach and encourage younger players.

I had no idea about management and business planning at 18 years of age. All I had was a passion for doing something great. I remember dreaming my vision of seeing teams entered into the local league from my village.

Photo of Trevor Gay"Never be afraid to ask people for help - inquisitive naivety is a preferable state than over confidence or arrogance."

I did not have a plan but I began to talk to a few friends in the village about my idea. I found a great deal of interest in the idea from parents who wanted their kids to be doing something more useful than playing aimlessly. The first thing I needed was a venue for table tennis. I was told that the redundant church hall had fallen into disrepair but had the potential as a venue.

I went to see the church Minister who liked my idea. He told me later it was my passion that swayed him. He explained that the church hall needed considerable work to make it usable. The news got worse when he explained the church had no money to help with any improvements. He said he would offer all the support he and the church could. That support proved very useful in subsequent months.

With no experience of fund raising I embarked on various discussions to find out how one goes about raising money. I was delighted to find many allies who pointed me in the direction of fundraising methods which began to bear fruit.

I recruited a few interested and keen parents and about six or seven young players who were interested in the idea of a new club. Between us we managed to raise enough money in six months to buy a new competition standard table and associated equipment as well as having enough money to re-decorate the hall and carry out minor structural alterations.

One of the more memorable things we did was a 24-hour table tennis marathon for which we got sponsorship and press coverage. This helped enormously, not only to raise money, but also to raise the profile of the plans.

We needed a good lighting system over the table to meet the requirements of the local league. One of the parents was an electrician. He begged and borrowed the necessary bits and pieces required to build a lighting system that was of a very high standard, indeed one of the better systems in the league.

I remember how we worked each weekend and most evenings to drag the hall up to a standard that was good enough to be considered a first-class venue. My dream was becoming a reality and word got round like wildfire in the village among the youngsters. I was approached almost daily by parents interested in knowing more and how they could get their children involved. I always asked what they could do for the club.

In no time at all I had around 30 youngsters interested in table tennis from a position of zero interest a few weeks earlier. We had reached the position where I could run training sessions in the hall and every night of the week the hall was buzzing with youngsters from age about 11 to 18 years of age, all keen to learn more and take up table tennis.

I was both amazed and excited. This was exceeding all my expectations and my joy increased when the Minister said that the church had heard about the enthusiasm and would not be making any charge for the use of the hall. This was a fabulous boost too because we had been worried about how we were going to maintain enough funds to meet costs incurred in using the hall; lighting, heating etc.

"The lessons about having a dream are numerous."

With the new season approaching a few of us had a discussion about how many teams to enter. We decided to be bold and enter three teams which was fabulous from a standing start only a few months earlier. After a successful first season the club flourished and the following season we entered five teams in the league which was more than any other village in the area.

I was proud and pleased.

How joyful it was that the commitment of parents and their children linked to the support of the church and others in the village meant that my great dream had been accomplished.

The lessons about having a dream are numerous including:

  • Have a great dream and always believe it is achievable
  • Never under-estimate the infectiousness of your own great passion and great enthusiasm
  • Never be afraid to ask people for help - inquisitive naivety is a preferable state than over confidence or arrogance
  • Share the work around - it is remarkable how many skills exist in any group of people
  • Never lose your vision or your focus
  • Trevor writes a Simplicity Blog which was recently chosen as one of the Top 100 Leadership Blogs by Best Universities.com.

    Trevor and his Wife Annie are running in the London Marathon on 26 April and welcome donations for Carers UK the charity they are running for. Details on how you can donate are at this link www.justgiving.com/runningforcarers

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