“Often life doesn’t go in the direction we want it to. Does that mean our lives are doomed and our dreams are nothing but a distraction from “reality”. Consider the following, you are in good company:
A very popular music producer in the 1960s unceremoniously shoved a singer, Reg Dwight, out of his office for wasting his time. That singer is now better known as Elton John.
Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor because “he lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” Disney went bankrupt several times before he built Disneyland. In fact, the proposed park was rejected by the city of Anaheim, California, on the grounds that it would only attract “riffraff.”
Thomas Edison’s teachers said he was “too stupid to learn anything.” He was fired from his first two jobs for being “nonproductive.” As an inventor, Edison made more than 1,000 unsuccessful attempts to invent the light bulb. When a reporter asked him how it felt to fail 1,000 times, Edison said that he didn’t fail all those times, but that the light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.
Albert Einstein did not speak until he was 4 years old and did not read until he was 7. His parents thought he was “subnormal,” and one of his teachers described him as “mentally slow, unsociable and adrift forever in foolish dreams.” He was expelled from school.
Every cartoon that Charles Schulz, creator of the comic strip Peanuts, submitted to the yearbook staff at his high school was rejected.
After Fred Astaire’s first screen test, the memo from the testing director of MGM, dated 1933, read, “Can’t act. Can’t sing. Slightly bald. Can dance a little.” Astaire kept that memo over the fireplace in his Beverly Hills home.
Decca Records turned down a recording contract with The Beatles with this fascinating evaluation: “We don’t like their sound. Guitar groups are on their way out.”
Better known as Bono, received a rejection letter sent to U2’s Paul Hewson in 1979 by RSO Recordings. Sent one year before Boy, U2’s major label debut, it highlights the harsh reality of the record industry: Not everyone’s going to get it.
I had the pleasure of meeting Chuck Colson in San Francisco in the late 70’s. He was probably one of the most intelligent and prolific speakers I have ever heard. For anyone who doesn’t know who he is:
In 1990 Mr. Colson was the keynote speaker at the annual National Association of Broadcasters Convention in Las Vegas. He related a story about a young woman who was seated next to him who told him she was writer and she was determined to produce a successful prime time television show that boldly expressed family values. In the words of Mr. Colson “I smiled, thinking, how noble……but how naïve. And I wondered how many bright, young open-faced Midwesterners have had their idealism smashed on the rocks of Hollywood. Well, you hang in there, I said intending to bolster her hopes a bit before she gave up and retreated to her safe middle class life.”
Fast forward to September 21, 1994 when the hit “touched by an angel” debuted on national TV. The writer-producer was Martha Williamson, (you guessed it, the same lady that Chuck had met a few years earlier at the Broadcasters convention). The show ran for more than 200 episodes on CBS. Williamson now 60, is working on four movies that will run on the Hallmark Movies and Mysteries channel in 2016. They build on her “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” series about a dead letter office where long-delayed mail arrives at strangely appropriate moments because of some divine intervention. The Denver native’s career has been and is driven by the idea that there is a place for “inspirational family entertainment” in Hollywood.
Recently Mark & Jan Forman released a book “Never say No” that challenges parents to encourage their children to live out their dreams. The book engages in honest and thought-provoking stories that give readers a backstage look into the early lives of Jon and Tim Foreman of the multi-platinum, GRAMMY Award-winning band Switchfoot,
Mark was our pastor when we lived in Carlsbad, CA and we knew the family quite well, he was a great example to us of balancing dreams with a good dose of reality. He encouraged all of us to see the big picture, that creativity and the “Dutch uncle” who stressed the importance of having “plan B” could live side by side.
As an artist manager and consultant, I think I have heard almost every possible dream you can imagine. It is very easy to become cynical of the entertainment business because of all the broken dreams and lives. It is anyone’s guess who is going to be successful and who is not. But the one thing that I have learned is not to quench the fire and let things take their natural course. If there is any formula for success I would say hard work, integrity, and tenaciousness are important parts of the equation. Of course having a unique talent has to be thrown in the mix as well. But at the end of the day, It is all about timing and being prepared every time a magic opportunity hits.
Finally, never forget, real success is being content right where you are. “If a man is called to be a streetsweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven played music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.” Martin Luther King Jr.