Sample Chapter #4

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Dream On

Have you ever had a dream? I'm not talking about the kind you have at night that you can't remember when you wake up. And I'm definitely not talking about Saturday mornings when you're trying to sleep and you hear your mother yelling at you to wake up and clean your room. That's not a dream - that's a nightmare. I know the feeling.

Haven't you ever dreamed of being a movie star or a professional athlete or the president of some huge international company? Or how about doing something extraordinary like finding a cure for cancer, saving the environment, or ending world poverty?

I hope you have because all great ideas and all remarkable accomplishments start as dreams. Dreams inspire action.

Perhaps the most famous dream ever was that of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In 1963, Dr. King's dream was that black people and white people would learn to live and work together in peace. This was no small dream. He believed so strongly in this dream that he was willing to risk his life for it. In fact, he gave his life for his dream. As you know, Dr. King was killed by an assassin in 1968. As a result of his dream, progress has been made and the world is a better place.

"To avoid criticism do nothing, say nothing, be nothing."
-Elbert Hubbard

But we still have a long, long way to go. Racism and discrimination of all kinds are some of the most serious problems we face in America today. If we want to correct these horrible wrongs we are going to need some help from your generation. Make sure you treat everyone you meet like a human being because that's what we all are. Being White doesn't make you any better than the Black, Hispanic, or Asian teens in your community. Being rich doesn't make you any better than if you are poor. And being thin doesn't make you any better than if you are overweight. The success of your generation depends on tolerance of all people. Don't put up with racism or any kind of discrimination.

Like Dr. King, if you have a dream you must pursue it. You must always believe that your dream can come true. Many dreams do come true so make sure you pursue your dreams - even if they seem far-fetched.

Here's what happens when you do pursue your dreams. Sometimes that ultimate dream does come true. But, even if your ultimate dream does not come true, as you pursue your dreams other doors will open and other opportunities will present themselves. On the other hand, if you don't pursue your dreams or, even worse, if you let someone talk you out of your dreams, then those other doors won't open and those opportunities won't be there.

So starting today, no matter what your dream might be - no matter how far-fetched - pursue it with all your heart and soul. Make sure you do something every single day to pursue your dream and, just as important, start telling everybody you know about your dream. Tell your friends, your classmates, your teachers, your parents, and every new person you meet. If you want your dream to come true you are going to need some help. The more people you tell about your dream the more help you will get. On the other hand, if you don't tell anyone about your dream you won't get any help. People can't help you if they don't know what your dream is and nobody succeeds without help!

Unfortunately, too many people don't follow their dreams. In many cases, they let someone else convince them that their dreams won't come true. Don't make this mistake. If you have a dream or a special idea pursue it. Don't let it get away. Even if someone else thinks your dream is stupid or a waste of time, pursue it until it comes true or at least until you're absolutely sure that it wasn't meant to be. That still doesn't mean it was stupid or a waste of time.

Years ago, a man had an idea about a new toy for kids. It looked like an oversized skinny donut and was made of plastic. The man thought kids would twirl this plastic ring around their waists by swinging their hips. I'm sure most people thought it was a crazy, far-fetched idea, but not the man who had the idea. He pursued his dream and called his new toy the Hula Hoop.

A few years ago, while I was in the Bahamas, my fishing guide pointed out one of the most beautiful islands I had ever seen. The water was crystal clear and the beaches were amazing. There was only one hotel on this island - a huge place overlooking the sea of Abaco on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other. I asked my guide to take me to the island so I could check it out. He explained to me that what I thought was a hotel was actually someone's home. He went on to tell me that the entire island was owned by one man - the guy who invented the Hula Hoop. One little idea, one great big island.

Dreams do come true.

All the great dreams haven't been dreamed and all the great ideas haven't been had. Furthermore, great ideas are not restricted to one per person. Thomas Edison invented the record player. Obviously, this was a monumental achievement. Without records, there would be no CDs, in which case there would be no iPods and, heaven forbid, no downloading of music! Maybe we should celebrate a Thomas Edison day.

But Thomas Edison didn't stop there. He went on to pursue two more unbelievable ideas. One was a little plug that stuck in your ear. Today we call this a hearing aid. And finally, Thomas Edison is the man who made it possible for you to walk the streets at night, drive home in the dark, and sneak into your house, after curfew, without knocking over the kitchen table. Thomas Edison invented the light bulb.

These would be amazing accomplishments for anyone to achieve over the course of a lifetime. Time out. Listen carefully. Thomas Edison invented the record player, the hearing aid, and the light bulb all in one year! Think big. Don't let anyone tell you that your thoughts must walk before they can run just because you are a teenager. A good idea is a good idea whether it comes from someone 14 or someone 40. A 16-year-old's dream is just as good as a 60-year-old's. Many of you will live tomorrow what you dream today. Your dream is yours. Don't let anyone take it away from you.

When I was a teenager, I had a friend named Mark Prudhomme. I often joined his family for lunch on Sundays. Lunch at my house was great on Saturdays, but Sunday lunch usually meant leftovers so the Prudhomme meal was much more appealing.

Almost every time I arrived at the Prudhommes' I saw the same thing. Mark's younger brother, Billy, would be standing in the backyard juggling whatever he could get his hands on: tennis balls, lemons, eggs, etc. You see, Billy Prudhomme had a dream that was totally far-fetched in the opinion of most people. He wanted to be a professional juggler. Now I'll admit that's a pretty far-fetched dream. But that was Billy's dream.

One day, while I was at the Prudhommes' house for lunch, Billy's mom opened the back door and called out, "Billy, come in for lunch." When Billy walked inside his mother looked over at him and said, "Billy, you know you can't just stand around and juggle for the rest of your life."

I will never forget what Billy's mother said that day. You see, Billy was in the backyard juggling because that was his dream, even though it was pretty far-fetched. And there was his mother, standing at the back door, trying to talk him out of his big dream.

I have always remembered Billy's mother's words. I didn't see my friend Billy again until 15 years later. I was on a great big cruise ship. Our cruise started in Miami and sailed to the ports of St. Thomas, San Juan, Cancun, and the Bahamas. One of the greatest things about a cruise is the entertainment on board - magicians, comedians, dancers, and others.

The first night of the cruise I walked into the ship's Grand Ballroom for that night's entertainment. That ballroom was the size of a high school gym.

There must have been 2,000 people in that ballroom. As the lights went down the Master of Ceremonies grabbed the microphone and announced to the crowd, "Good evening passengers. We are happy to have you aboard the cruise this week. Tonight, we have a special guest entertainer. He's back by popular demand. Please help me welcome world famous juggler, Billy Prudhomme."

"The harder you work, the luckier you get."

My friend Billy walked out onto that stage and I swear I almost wet my pants! He proceeded to put on a show that was absolutely incredible. For the next 30 minutes he juggled, told jokes, and had the crowd laughing so hard they were almost crying. That's impressive. If you have ever been on a cruise you know that the average age passenger on a cruise ship is about 95 years old.

After his show Billy came off stage to say hello to me. Remember, I hadn't seen him in 15 years. In fact, I hadn't seen him since I was at his house the day his mother was trying to talk him out of his far-fetched dream.

After his performance, Billy hung around with me on the ship for the next five days. On the last night of the cruise Billy had to work again. He put on another show, this time for 15 minutes. He juggled, told jokes, and the crowd went crazy. So, if I have my math right here, Billy works 30 minutes the first night of the cruise and then comes back on stage and works 15 minutes the last night of the cruise. My friend Billy Prudhomme works 45 minutes per week! And for that, he gets paid several thousand dollars- week after week after week.

I think it's pretty cool that Billy gets to travel around the world on a cruise ship. And I also think it's great that he makes all that money for working 45 minutes per week. But, in my opinion, the most important thing about my friend Billy Prudhomme is that every day, when he gets up and goes to work, he loves what he does for a living. Billy would tell you the very same thing.

You see, if you like your job - if you like the work you do - life is great. In fact, life is pretty incredible. But, if you hate your job - if you can't stand the career you choose - life is a total drag. Here's why. Remember, your career is going to last about 86,000 hours. Hating your job is a drag because if you go to work and hate your job for 8-10 hours day after day, week after week, it's impossible to come home at night and be any kind of mother, father, husband, or wife. Make sure you choose the right career. Dreams are a big part of choosing a job you will enjoy.

Now I'm not saying that you can expect to enjoy every minute of every day that you work. I don't think anyone has that experience. Some days will be better than others for sure. The key is to have a whole lot more good days than bad days. It's also important to keep the bad days in perspective. Try to learn something from the 'not so great' days and then look forward to more good days ahead.

Why does Billy Prudhomme get to do what he loves, travel around the world, and make great money? Because he did not let an adult talk him out of his far-fetched dream when he was a teenager.

Get ready. Be prepared to deal with people who try to talk you out of your dreams. In fact, if someone does try to talk you out of your dreams don't worry about them. They are clueless!

Whenever I think of Billy Prudhomme and all of his success it reminds me of his mother, standing at the back door of his house many years ago saying, "Billy, you know you just can't stand around and juggle for the rest of your life."

Actually, the more I think about it the more I realize that Billy's mother was right. Billy can't stand around and juggle for the rest of his life. He can only juggle for 45 minutes a week!

Someone brilliant once said, "It is far better to have tried and failed than to never have tried at all." I know a guy who grew up playing tennis, and he watched with great interest as manufacturers began to make tennis rackets with larger and larger heads. The larger head made it easier to hit the ball and therefore easier to play the game. Everybody started buying oversized rackets. Today, that's all you can buy. The man who invented the oversized racket, whose name happens to be Howard Head, made millions with his idea.

Anyway, the guy I know watched this happen over a period of several years. During that time he took up the game of golf, which he found most frustrating. He had no trouble hitting a moving tennis ball with an oversized racket but he was having a terrible time trying to hit a golf ball that wasn't even moving. He finally realized that the problem was the golf club. It had a head the size of a lemon, which made it pretty tough to hit that little white golf ball. That was several years ago. He wondered why someone hadn't developed a golf club, with a larger head, like the oversized tennis rackets. He knew it was a great idea, but he didn't pursue it. Maybe he thought it was too obvious or maybe he let someone talk him out of it. Either way, that guy was an idiot. He should have pursued his dreams. I can say that because that guy was me!

Soon after that, a man named Ely Callaway introduced the Big Bertha golf club with an oversized head. Two years later, golfers bought $250 million worth of Big Bertha golf clubs. Don't be an idiot like me. Pursue your dreams. They can come true.

Several years ago, there were 30 kids singing in the choir at the First United Methodist Church of Dallas, Texas. They all enjoyed singing on Sunday but one 12-year-old, Laurie Gayle Stephenson, had a dream. She wanted to be a star on Broadway when she grew up. Laurie wasn't necessarily a better singer than the other 29 kids in the choir. She was just a better dreamer. Her dream became her passion and she never lost sight of it. She knew it was a long shot but someone had convinced her that you can't make long shots if you don't take long shots. Not only that, but she did something that most people are afraid to do. She told her friends and family about her dream. That way, she didn't have to pursue her dream alone.

As with any dream, Laurie's took a lot of hard work and a great deal of dedication. As with many dreams, Laurie's came true. She eventually became the star of Phantom of the Opera on Broadway - the most successful play in theater history. It just goes to show you that a 12-year-old's dream is as good as anyone's. Whenever I see my friend Laurie I am reminded that no dream comes true if you don't pursue it.

Sometimes pursuing your dream will even require doing battle (verbal, not physical!) with people close to you who try to talk you out of your dream.

I'm sure that's what happened to my friend, Lea Henry. Lea grew up in a tiny little town in South Georgia. I mean really tiny. The total population of her hometown was 245! That's not a one-stoplight town, that's a no stoplight town.

When Lea was in middle school she had one of those far-fetched dreams just like many of you have. In Lea's case, her long-shot dream was to play professional basketball. As you can probably imagine, a dream like that is pretty far-fetched when you live in a town of 245 people. It's even more farfetched when you come from a broken home and your parents are divorced. But it's especially far-fetched when you are only five feet, three inches tall!

That didn't stop Lea Henry though. She still told everyone she could about her dream and she still pursued that dream with every ounce of energy she could muster. Luckily, when she got into high school, Lea got a little bit faster and even a little bit taller, like two inches! She also got a lot better as a basketball player. In fact, when Lea Henry finished her basketball career, she was selected as a high school All-American basketball player. Pretty impressive for a kid from a tiny little town in South Georgia, don't you think? It is impressive for sure, but that's not the end of the story.

As a result of her high school success Lea was given a scholarship to play basketball at the University of Tennessee, a team that has won eight national championships. Lea played for Tennessee for four years and, when she finished her college career, she was chosen as an Academic All-American basketball player. Pretty darn impressive, don't you think, for a kid who barely reaches the five feet, five inch mark on the height chart. Impressive for sure but, once again, that's not the end of the story either. Soon after her college career came to an end, Lea was selected by the United States Olympic Committee to play on the U.S. Olympic Basketball team. Not only did Lea Henry, from that tiny little town in South Georgia, play for the U.S. Olympic basketball team, she actually won a Gold Medal at those Olympic Games! How's that for impressive? I'm sure you realize that it never would have happened if Lea had not pursued her far-fetched dream or, even worse, if Lea had let someone talk her out of her dream.

By the way, what is your dream?

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