Winners' Wisdom
by Jim Stovall

Beautiful Music

One of the true gifts in life is to enjoy your work and--even more importantly--enjoy the people with whom you work.

Kelly Morrison is the Marketing Director for our company, Narrative Television Network. She handles all of the publicity for our 1,200 broadcast and cable affiliates as well as coordinating all of my speaking engagements and books. She is very good at her job, and I am proud to be associated with her.

In addition to her talent as a Marketing Director, Kelly has been a singer and songwriter since before she was old enough to go to kindergarten. She has performed in many wonderful venues across the country, and often I have the privilege of working with her on these occasions. Kelly entertains, enlightens, and motivates with her music, and I make a speech.

Kelly has produced several very popular CDs on her own, but recently she started pursuing a dream of having some of her music published by a major record label. If anyone has ever tried to have songs, books, or any other creative work commercially published, they know that this can be an overwhelming task.

Recently, Kelly became frustrated and was considering moving on to pursue other areas in her life. I am such a fan of her music and her talent, I couldn't let the dream go away without a fight, so Kelly and I made a deal. She would send out letters and demo CDs until she had collected 100 rejections. At that point, we would both agree that it was time to move on. Kelly pursued this project with the excitement and energy with which she pursues everything in her life.

As often happens when you commit your dream to a plan of action, Kelly met with success. She had collected 43 rejections when a music publisher responded positively and agreed to release 13 of her motivational songs. Many times when you set out to do something to help a friend, you also receive a benefit. On one of the demo CDs Kelly sent out, there was actually a song I had written that they are going to release as well.

Dreams do come true. If you need confirmation of this, you can order Kelly's CDs nationwide by simply calling 800-801-8184. When you listen to her music, you'll understand why I am a proud colleague, a grateful friend, and a dedicated fan.

Dreams Do Come True

I recently heard a debate among academics, politicians, theologians, and businesspeople discussing the eternal question, "Do dreams really come true?" This debate was conducted on an extremely intellectual level and, after two hours, they had not reached any meaningful conclusion.

Let me, for the sake of those curious souls, cut to the chase and assure you that dreams do, indeed, come true. This is not based on any theory or outdated philosophy. It is based on day-in, day-out, real-life evidence from people just like you and me. From every corner of the globe, dealing with every circumstance imaginable, in any arena of life, people are continuing to set goals, work toward them, and live out their dreams.

Succeeding in this fashion is not a matter of age, talent, education, social standing, or connections. Success comes from several steps that are as old as time and as relevant as your next breath.

  1. Set a goal. In order to hit a target, you must have one. Success is not an obscure, ethereal concept. It is a very specific dream that burns inside the hearts and minds of real live people. Their individual ideas of success will vary from one extreme to the other, but in their own mind everyone who succeeds has a firm idea and understanding of how they define success.

  2. Count the cost. There is no free lunch. Dreams do, indeed, come true, but they require work, diligence, sacrifice, and focus.

  3. Form a plan. Setting a goal and counting the cost is of little value unless you are committed to a practical, step-by-step, daily plan to get you from where you are to where you want to be. A journey of a thousand miles does, indeed, begin with the first step. As elementary as this seems, most people do not fail over the thousand-mile journey, they fail to simply take that first step.

  4. Celebrate your ongoing success and that of others. As you progress toward your dream, stop along the way to enjoy the progress you have made thus far. Observe those around you who are succeeding in making their dreams come true. Remember that no one's success diminishes your own potential. There is plenty of room at the top. As you observe other people succeeding, it should reinforce the fact that your success is possible, and if you continue to work your plan it is a virtual certainty.

Once you are convinced by the success of others around you that dreams do come true, the only question left remaining is, "Will your own dream come true, or will it go to the grave with you?" As you go through your day today, consider not only the price to be paid in order to live out your dreams, but also consider the costly price to be paid if you fail to live out your dreams.

A Birthday to Remember

In September I celebrated the birthday of a very special person I have grown to respect and revere. Although he and I have never met, I am quite certain that we have felt, understood, and perceived life and all things around us in similar ways. He and I have never corresponded or even spoken on the phone, and I know that he never traveled to the place where I live, nor have I ever traveled to his home. We do not even speak the same language. Or do we?

The birthday that I celebrated is that of Johann Pachelbel. This past week marks his 350th birthday. You may have never heard his name, but you are almost assuredly familiar with his work. He may well be the most widely listened-to composer of all time. His name is not as renowned as that of Bach or Beethoven or even Lennon or McCartney, but Pachelbel's Canon in D has caused people all around the world for three-and-a-half centuries to reflect upon and celebrate life.

To commemorate this occasion, RCA released a new compact disc of Pachelbel's Canon in D featuring a number of variations including classical, string quartet, as well as a modern ethereal version. Each of them can cause you to feel the very foundation of the earth as your soul will soar to a height never before known. You will experience the very heart and mind of a man who walked the earth in the 1600s.

You may be thinking or saying to yourself, "I have never liked classical music, and I have never heard of this guy." While this may be true, if you will do yourself the favor and pick up the new RCA collection or any version of Pachelbel's Canon in D, you will look at music, life, and creativity in a different way. Whether you're a fan of the most recent rap music or hip hop, you will find Pachelbel compatible. If you're a country fan, you can slip him into your collection right between Hank Williams and Merle Haggard; or you can find Pachelbel a new home right beside Eric Clapton and Carlos Santana.

As you listen to these magnificent refrains, think about the things you can do and create in this life that could be affecting people you will never meet for years and even centuries to come.

Lessons from Another Time and Place

When I could read books with my eyes the same way you are reading this column, I'm embarrassed to admit that I never read an entire book cover to cover. For the last 15 years as a blind person, thanks to books on tape and a high-speed tape recorder, I complete an entire book each day. This has revolutionized my personal and professional life.

Having read nearly 5,000 books in a decade-and-a-half, I rarely recommend a book to other people. It is especially rare for me to recommend a book I did not write; however, you would be well served to find and read a book entitled "Once Upon a Town." This book chronicles a four-year period during World War II in a little town called North Platte, Nebraska. Without spoiling the story for you, in hopes that you will read the entire book, I want to share the extraordinary impact that one small group of people can have on the entire world for generations to come.

North Platte, Nebraska in the early 1940s was a town of 12,000 people. North Platte's only distinction was the fact that it was built on the main railroad line that crossed America from east to west. Through a set of circumstances you will come to understand when you read the book, the people of North Platte discovered that the troop trains carrying our soldiers would be passing through their town many times each day and would be making a brief stop.

Over a four-year period, the citizens of one small town -- without benefit of any government funding, at a time when food rationing was severe -- fed, greeted, and welcomed over six million service people. The impact their hospitality had on these soldiers and sailors is chronicled in "Once Upon a Town."

When we seek to do small things for good that we hope will make a little bit of difference, sometimes there are extraordinary results. As you read "Once Upon a Town" and as you go through your day today, think of the little things you can do to make a difference. Your little acts of kindness may be much larger than you can ever imagine.

Today's the day!

Jim Stovall is the president of Narrative Television Network, as well as a published author, columnist, and motivational speaker. He may be reached at 5840 South Memorial Drive, Suite 312, Tulsa, OK 74145-9082, or by e-mail at . Visit for additional information.

Many more articles in Personal Development in The CEO Refresher Archives


Copyright 2004 by Jim Stovall. All rights reserved.

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