After being rejected by the Navy for failing the eye test, and watching all of his friends go off to serve in the Korean War, Larry King (formerly Larry Zeiger) found himself floundering at home, facing the big decision of what to do with the rest of his life. When his friend’s father asked him what he planned to do, Larry answered that he wanted to go into broadcasting. “What are you, a pipe dreamer?” the man replied. “Get a job.”
As it happened, this man had a factory that made bindings for hats. “I’ll give you a job in my factory,” he told Larry. “You’ll learn to be a binder. And someday, someday, you could be the foreman. Foremen get three weeks’ vacation. Like this, you can be somebody.”
At one point or another, anyone who has a dream will encounter a naysayer just like this. In fact, the world is full of cynics who will try to deter you from your dream, fill your head with doubt, and suck the passion right out of you.
I can attest to this. In the memorable past, people have trampled on my own fiction writing dreams with statements like: there’s no money in fiction; getting published is nearly impossible; the publishing industry is in the tank; there’s less space for new writers than ever before; and, my favorite, you’ve been working at this for how long and you’re not published yet?
Unfortunately, chasing a dream is often an isolating experience – one that you do alone with little, if any, external support – which makes it that much easier for someone else’s negativity to crack through your fragile exterior and destroy the dream inside.
Why people do this to each other, I’ll never know. Maybe some people are afraid of being surpassed in terms of happiness, fulfillment, success, etc.? Maybe they don’t know how to cope with their own lack of passion or courage? Or maybe they really don’t believe that anyone, including themselves, has what it takes to achieve great things?
Whatever the reason, as Larry King’s life shows us: don’t listen to the critics, follow the passion that lives in your heart. It’s there for a reason and it can take you places beyond your wildest imagination.
Read along! This month we’re reading My Remarkable Journey by Larry King.