Let us play a game. If I give you a list of names can you tell me three things that all these people have in common?
JR Rowling, The Beatles, Theodor Seuss Giesel, Stephen King, John Grisham, Vincent van Gogh, Thomas Edition and Ian Flemming.
One mark if you said they are all famous. Another mark if you said they have all supposedly failed at their dreams before becoming famous, and full marks if you said that they all persisted beyond the point where their peers would have given up to make their dreams a reality.
Are you maybe one of these people who are just waiting to be discovered? I believe that we all have a personal dream that is so unique to us as our fingerprints are. We are born with this dream platted into our DNA. This dream that we carry within us is our purpose in life. It is what we are meant to do on earth before we depart to leave the world a better place. Let us look at the examples of these people listed above to discover our own legacies:
Step 1: Discover your passion
JR Rowling the author of the famous Harry Potter books was in a predicament that many people find themselves in. She was divorced, a single parent and broke. I can just imagine that her therapy at the time was to loose herself in a fantasy world in which she could control each and every event. I see her in my mind’s eye typing away in front of her old typewriter when her child has gone to sleep. Soon she discovered that this was not just therapy, this was her passion.
Your passion is the one thing in this world that makes you feel happy and fulfilled. Its the one thing that you spend time thinking and dreaming about when you are meant to be working. Its the thing you always say after the words: ‘One day when I win the lotto I will…’
The very first step in following your passion is to define it for yourself. it is that one thing in live that makes you feel alive.
Step 2: Develop your passion
Once you have defined what your passion in life is, it is time to start working. Read all you can about your passion. Enrol for a short course or do a degree. In our spoilt society nothing is impossible. People of all ages can study part time. The internet has presented the entire world to be available to us at our fingertips. Devote at least half an hour a day to your passion even if this means that you need to wake up earlier. The more you learn about your passion and the more you start practicing the one thing in this world that makes you happy the happier your will become in general. If we look at the example of The Beatles we have to admire their hard work. In their early years The Beatles gave 262 shows in 2 years at the Cavern in Liverpool while giving regular gigs at The Casbah club. Their fame did not happen by earning it instantly on an Idols show. They had to work very hard and constantly in order to arrive at the top of their game. Prepare yourself for a ‘hard day’s night’.
Step 3: Believe in yourself
Bullies come in every form imaginable. As in the case with Theodor Seuss Giesel the author of Dr Seuss books that most children had the privilege to make part of their childhood memories which originally got rejected 27 times by publishers. In the case of Stephen King whose first manuscript was discarded 30 times, or John Grisham with a number of 28 rejections. People will seldom see the vision that you nurture in your own mind and bullies will always be ready to break down your ideas. Expect it and remind yourself of two important things. Firstly that it takes a one year old to break a flower that it took a God to make. Secondly teach yourself the art of selective hearing. This is crucial as you might not be aware of this but the most fearsome bullies exists in our own minds. That voice you hear that tells you that you must be crazy to think that you will make it, the same voice that asks you if you are sure about your idea and your own sanity. That is the first bully you need to conquer. Look at the famous painter Van Gogh. His mind was his most fearsome enemy, although he only sold one painting in his lifetime, he persisted in following his passion of painting and became a legend.
Step 4: Persist
Talking about persistence, this is ultimately the most important ingredient you need to live out your passion. Persist in improving your skills that can help your passion along. Persist in believing that you are made to live out your passion. Persist in discarding those bullies whether they are people or yourself. Persist in doing one thing everyday that will improve your passion. Thomas Edison in my opinion is the king of persistence. He has attempted to invent the light bulb 10 000 times. He described it as not failing 10 000 times but discovering how not to do it 10 000 times. Has the secret to persistence than have something to do with our perception of life? For sure it does. How does society describe failure? ‘Lack of success in doing or achieving something’ is how the Oxford dictionary define failure. How will you define failure in your journey or will you teach yourself that there is no such thing as failure. My brother, who is the Head of Deaf Christian Ministry Africa in Worcester, constantly reminds me that obstacles are not there to obstruct but to instruct.
Step 5: Leave a legacy
The only way I know of to do this is to write my own obituary. If you set your mind to the time when you are no longer on earth you will have a clear idea of what you would like to leave behind and start working on making it happen. You might be a late bloomer like Ian Flemming was. He only wrote the first James Bond novel at the age of 42. Can you think of anyone in this world who does not know who 007 is? While you still have breath in your lungs, it is never too late. Make a decision today to start where you are to make your live a legacy by following your passion.
Examples of famous people who supposedly failed before finding success:
Walt Disney – turned down 302 times before getting finance for Disney World
Henry Ford – started 5 business that failed and left him broke before he founded Ford Motor Company
Oprah Winfrey – was fired from her job as a TV presenter. She was described as being “unfit for TV.”
Marilyn Monroe – Modelling agents recommended that she would instead consider a career as a secretary
Elvis Presley – he got fired after just one performance and it was suggested that he goes back to driving trucks
Winston Churchill – was defeated in every election for public office and only became Prime Minister at the age of 62
I wish you a fruitful journey.