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Bahram Akradi, founder, chairman, and CEO of Life Time — Healthy Way of Life

If you build it, they will come.” That phrase, made legendary by the 1989 film Field of Dreams, still resonates with a lot of people. I think that’s because it says everything about what we instinctively know to be true about pursuing our own dreams.

In the film, Kevin Costner’s character, Iowa farmer Ray Kinsella, plows under a perfectly good corn crop to build a baseball field for a team of ghostly players. It seems like folly. It’s an endeavor that could easily lead to humiliation and financial ruin, an endeavor not easily understood by others. And that’s exactly what pursuing most dreams feels like at some point.

The pursuit of our dreams is, at heart, an act of faith combined with a giant act of will. But when it pays off, the unexpected happens. The world shifts around you, unseen passages open, and in many ways, the rules of reality — at least the rules that have defined your reality — change.

The interesting thing is, that payoff starts long before your dream is realized. In fact, the journey toward the dream is often every bit as gratifying as the dream itself. Because that’s where our passion and courage get kindled. It’s where our vision becomes very clear (even if no one else can see what we see). It’s where we come to discover what we’re really made of, the essence of what makes us tick.

I would argue that having a dream, and the courage to pursue it, is one of the most important foundations for living a good life. Dreams don’t have to be as dramatic as Kinsella’s cornfield in Dyersville, Iowa. What they do need to be is an expression of who you are.

Ultimately, they must represent the contribution you want to make while you are here, and the impression you want to leave behind when you go.

Your dream must have value that’s obvious and unassailable for you, even through the experiences of trial and error, even through the various victories and defeats that define every dream’s topography.

More than 25 years ago, I began working on a dream. I wanted to create a healthy-living company designed from the customer’s perspective. I had a vision for creating an integrated support system for those interested in becoming the best, most vital people they could be.

It started as one little fitness club, and even that took four years of relentless effort. There were times when other people probably thought I was crazy. But I knew it couldn’t fail. I knew that no matter how improbable success might seem at any given moment, the outcome was a foregone conclusion. It just made sense to me.

The decision to pursue my dream marked the beginning of a period in my life that I can honestly say has been more fun, more inspiring, and more outrageously exciting than I could ever have imagined.

To see this company grow so steadily over the course of more than two decades, to watch it go public, and then, years later, to see it become privately held once again, has been an incomparable experience.

Now, to be sharing that dream with new partners, to be developing new offerings, new properties, and to be welcoming tens of thousands of new customers every year — it’s all more rewarding than I could ever describe.

Even more energizing to me, though, are the possibilities that lie ahead.

Dreams ask us to build what doesn’t exist. Not just out there in the world, but in here — in our own hearts and minds, in our own perceptions and beliefs of what ought to be.

While “If you build it, they will come” has become a popular catch phrase about the faith-filled pursuit of dreams, in many ways I think the more interesting promise is this: If you build your dream, what’s really guaranteed to show up is you.

I hope this issue of Experience Life helps you connect with your own dreams. I hope it inspires you to support yourself in building the vitality you need to pursue those dreams with confidence and vigor. And whatever you decide to build, to discover, or to transform, I wish you every success.

Thoughts to share?

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