In the early 1900’s an aspiring cartoonist was fired from his job at the The Kansas City Star. According to his editor, he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.”
The young man’s name was Walt Disney.
If you’ve ever been told repeatedly by a person in authority that you’re not good enough, you’re not smart enough, or that you should give up because you’ll never amount to anything, then you know the inner struggle that can ensue as a result. Despite any confidence you have in your ability, despite any passion you may have for your craft – self doubt can seep into your thought patterns, threatening to derail you from your goals. After all, if a superior says it can’t be done, if a parent or spouse says you’re incapable, or an employer with years of experience says you lack vision – shouldn’t you take their “expert” assessments to heart?
I’m not so sure. Even the experts can be wrong from time to time.
A long time ago, an accomplished performer named Charlie Chaplin said “The cinema is only a fad. It’s canned drama. What people really want is flesh and blood on the stage.”
And then there was another expert named Albert Einstein who once stated, “There is absolutely no evidence that atomic energy could ever exist. It would mean the atom would have to be smashed at will.”
There will always be people ready to tell you to just give up, that you shouldn’t bother trying, that what you want is unreasonable or impossible. Below is a list of ordinary people who became extraordinary because they ignored these messages from the doubters and naysayers around them:
- Stephen King faced 30 rejections before publishing his first book.
- At his first screen test, Fred Astaire was told that he couldn’t act, sing or dance.
- In the early days of The Beatles, a record executive evaluated the band to decide whether to offer them a contract. He said, “We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.”
- Beethoven was told by his teachers that he was hopeless.
- Theodor Suess Giesel (Dr. Suess) was rejected by 27 publishers before his first book was published.
- Oprah Winfrey was fired from an early position on prime time TV, and was called “unfit for television news.”
- Lucille Ball was once known as a “B-list” movie star and failed multiple times before she became a successful actress on I Love Lucy.
- Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour started her career as a junior fashion editor at Harper’s Bazaar, but was fired after only 9 months because her editor thought her shoots were too “edgy.”
Imagine how different the world would be if these individuals gave up at the first sign of discouragement. Imagine how different the world might be if you do the same.
The truth is this: You and you alone have the power to define and validate your dreams, and to decide what you want from life. When someone tries to tell you what you can or can’t do, or define your reality for you, it’s important to remember that the only expert on your life and on you – is you.
Photo credit: digitaltrends.com (Epic Mickey)