The Beatles – When The Beatles first auditioned for a recording compact in 1962, Decca Records rejected them. The band members recall being told “we don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.” The Beatles signed to EMI and are the best-selling music group of all time, and their music is still downloaded and listened to globally.
Elvis Presley – While Elvis Presley went on to sell more than 1 billion records globally, according to the official Elvis Presley website, after his very first performance his manager Jimmy Denny said, “You ain’t goin’ nowhere, son. You ought to go back to drivin’ a truck.” Fortunately, Elvis, a hard-headed man, just couldn’t help believin’ in himself, and returned that advice to sender
Fred Astaire – The man who evaluated Fred Astaire’s first screen test wrote, “Can’t act. Can’t sing. Balding. Can dance a little,” according to the Chicago Tribune. Astaire spent his film career proving that exec wrong as he sang, danced, and acted his way through some of America’s most beloved musicals, such as Top Hat (1935) and Shall We Dance (1937).
Add to this list U2, Madonna, Steven King, Steven Spielberg, JK Rowling (Henry Potter author) and a hundred others of top celebrities that were once rejected by “so-called” experts in the industry. We love nothing more than stories of extraordinary accomplishments
The self-help gurus make a lot of money from hyping their audiences to fulfill their dream. After all, we live in America where you can be anything you want to be.
As a consultant, I encourage artists to follow their dreams, but I also point out that some dreams just don’t come true, at least the way we envision them. Sometimes we have to be realistic about our goals and move on.
We live in a culture that bombards us with the message that if you want something badly enough, work at it hard enough, wait long enough and focus on it to the exclusion of just about everything, ultimately your dreams will come true.
But is such a philosophy really for everyone? Or does there ever come a time in life when giving up on a dream is a more psychologically healthy thing to do?
Remarkable accomplishments do happen, but they’re not the norm. But when people think it is the norm, they set themselves unrealistic expectations, and end up with depression and anxiety when they fail to achieve them.
Nicola Phoenix, a psychologist and author of Reclaiming Happiness, says “a common problem is that people think the achievement of a goal will make them happy, and they forget to enjoy the journey. People pursue a dream to fill in a gap in their own self-worth.”
The British Medical Journal once said in an editorial that much of life’s pain stems from the gap between people’s unrealistic dreams and reality.
Rather than try to capture youthful dreams, maybe we should focus instead on reassessing dreams, figuring out which ones to abandon and which ones to revise.
I am not suggesting that the route to happiness is to abandon all our dreams. But everything isn’t always possible. As W. C. Fields once said: ‘If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There’s no point in being a damn fool about it.’
I started out in the entertainment business a guitar player and ended up working with one of the better local bands “The Common Ground.” But as destiny would have it, the band eventually broke up. I went on to work in a number of bands after that, but none of them really made it. I had to revise my dreams many times, but today I work as a tour manager. I have toured in over a hundred countries with some of the largest artists in the world. We all have to start somewhere, but the journey has a lot of turns and twists in it, that you can count on.
As my good friend Barry McGuire always reminds me “it has been a good run.”