I’m a big Walt Disney fan. How he converted a small idea like “Mortimer Mouse” into an entertainment empire should be required reading for anyone launching a creative business. But over the years, one of this most famous quotes has always bothered me:
“If you dream it you can do it.”
It sounds noble and it’s certainly inspiring. But the truth is, its just wrong. We should be dreamers and believe that great things are possible in our lives, but I think we only hurt people when we lead them to believe that anything they dream can be possible.
No matter how I dreamed, I was never going to be an NFL player. When I began my career in film and television, I wasted a significant part of that career pursuing a dream job I wasn’t wired to accomplish.
And I see it everyday in others. People with great passion who simply aren’t gifted in the area of their passion. A few years ago I met an actor here in Hollywood. His dream to be a great actor was so strong that he actually abandoned his wife and child in the Midwest, moved to LA, lived in a car and survived off food stamps. The irony? He was one of the worst actors I’ve ever seen. Not a shred of talent. (And plenty of others felt the same way.)
Unnecessary situations like that were a big reason I wrote my book “One Big Thing: Discovering What You Were Born to Do.” Dreams are important. Passion is important. But first – make sure you have the gifts and talents – plus put in the hard work and training to make that dream happen.
In the book I tell stories of famous people who spent most of their lives pursuing the wrong thing. It was only later in life when they discovered where their real talent lay, and from that point on, everything changed for the better. Don’t waste most of your life moving in the wrong direction.
In the same way, Disney’s Jiminy Cricket reflected the same idea:
When you wish upon a star
Makes no difference who you are
Anything your heart desires
Will come to you.
Don’t get me wrong. I love Walt, and believe he was one of the greatest men of his generation. Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to become close friends with high level leaders at Walt Disney Studios here in Burbank.
Besides, there’s no question that God can accomplish anything, and sometimes He works with the most unexpected and unprepared people. I would never diminish the power or possibility of a miracle. But in the meantime, don’t waste years and years pursuing a dream without a foundation. Get my book, and find out what your “one thing” really is, and start moving in that direction.
Trust me – when you discover that one big purpose in your life, your passion will follow, and everything will change.