Every now and then you meet someone that seems so different from you. It’s hard to imagine you’ll become great friends.
For me, Dezmond Wheeler was that person. He’s African-American. I’m Mexican-American. He’s slender. I’m chubby. We listen to different types of music. We are different.
What I didn’t know when we first met, is that we share more than we find different in each other, and I was only able to realize it by doing something we are all uncomfortable with — getting to know someone that seems too unfamiliar to recognize.
Think of Dezmond as a thirty-something year-old, clearly knowing what he wants in life, and wanting to share it with others. Unlike most people his age, he has a specific vision. His challenge, is getting you to understand it in an unconventional way.
You probably haven’t heard of the brand P.R.G., the acronym meaning Progress Requires Growth. Sounds like an old cliché a former teacher might have said when you needed a little confidence building. Today, it’s something we need reminding of, and Dezmond believes that a denim cap is the anchor for a company that spreads a positive message of encouragement and inspiration.
Sometimes it feels challenging to find a young adult focused on more than 30-second videos on a phone screen. We often dismiss today’s young professionals as snobs who feel entitled, wanting everything for little in return.
Our grandparents worked for all they had, we often get told. I’m 38 years old, and I hear it all the time. Millennials, like any other group, are not one monolithic type, walking as mirror images of each other.
Dezmond is out to make a name for himself, not to bring himself glory, but to let others find the glory in themselves. He spends late nights at home, teaching himself how to sew on pieces of denim, mostly in the shaped of upward moving triangles, it’s the shape of his brand’s logo, and it’s very fitting.
A simple and familiar symbol like an arrow can have the power to lift us up. An arrow and three words. Progress. Requires. Growth.
Like most ideas that become something of great value, the P.R.G. movement that Dezmond is trying to build will be a long and challenging road. Some will say that it’s not worth it. We live in the age of instant gratification. “You tried Dezmond” and “it’s time to move on” will be heard from skeptics.
Others will say that all they are just pieces of garment. Those are just words. What many forget is that ideas come in so many shapes and forms and from the most unlikely of people.
Just like that guy I met from Fort Myers, Florida who seemed too different to recognize. The guy I thought I would never really relate to as a friend, a good friend.
As months passed by, Dezmond and I spent many weekends hiking the great outdoors and volunteering at the local soup kitchen. We were more the same than we were different.
I failed to realize at the time that anything is possible, as long as we remember that progress requires growth. Sometimes that movement forward is slow but we need to keep moving forward.
I’m glad Dezmond was here to remind me of the important truth that we are all a work in progress.
To learn more about Dezmond’s movement, visit: http://projectprg.com.