Wednesday, December 06, 2023

Dream a little dream of success

| March 26, 2023 1:00 AM

This year's Academy Awards proved that dreams can come true.

It started with Ke Huy Quan winning Best Supporting Actor for the movie "Everything Everywhere All at Once." He was so excited that he wept as he accepted his Oscar, saying: "My journey started on a boat. I spent a year at a refugee camp, and, somehow, I ended up here on Hollywood's biggest stage. They say stories like this only happen in the movies. I cannot believe it is happening to me. This is the American dream."

Michelle Yeoh made history, becoming the first actress of Asian descent to win the Best Actress Oscar for her performance in the same movie, which also won Best Picture. During her acceptance speech, Yeoh held her Oscar and said, "This is proof that … dream big, and dreams do come true."

I often joke that it takes years to become an overnight success. But it starts with a dream. My dream was to own a factory. I wasn't even sure what kind of product I'd make, or exactly where it would be. But I pictured myself walking the factory floor, talking to co-workers. The pile of broken-down machines I bought might have looked more like a nightmare at the time. But dreams come true — with a lot of wide-awake work.

Jimmy Carter was a peanut farmer who dreamed of becoming governor of Georgia and president of the United States. And he did. But his dreams were shattered by world events and the Iran hostage crisis, ending his one-term presidency on a sour note. When things take a turn like that, you often must reconstruct your dreams.

Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter devoted themselves to helping others. They immersed themselves in building low-cost housing, teaching Sunday school, writing books and establishing the Carter Center to improve life for people in 80 countries by resolving conflict, advancing democracy and human rights, preventing diseases and improving mental health care.

Dick Clark listened to the radio to ease his painful loneliness after his older brother was killed in World War II, and dreamed of having his own program. His dream turned into "American Bandstand." He became synonymous with Dec. 31 celebrations with his "New Year's Rockin' Eve" well into his 80s.

Ski instructor Pete Seibert stood on the summit of a mountain in the Gore Range of Colorado and dreamed of starting a ski resort. Seibert's dream in Vail is now a reality.

Two brothers-in-law started their own business that advertised a single product served 31 different ways. Burton Baskin and Irvine Robbins saw their dream come true to the delight of ice-cream lovers.

A.P. Giannini dreamed of starting a financial institution for "the little guy" by providing car and appliance loans. Who knew that his dream would become Bank of America?

Here's a final story to illustrate my point. A class of college seniors filed into a room for their final exam. The professor announced that she had divided the questions into three categories and explained that students were to choose only one of the categories. The first category of questions was the most difficult and worth 50 points. The second set was somewhat easier and worth 40 points. The third group, the easiest, was worth 30 points.

The professor graded the papers as follows: the students who chose to answer questions in the hardest category were given As. Students who chose category two were given Bs, and those settling for the easiest were given Cs.

Naturally, some of the students were frustrated with the professor's grading. The professor simply explained: "I wasn't testing your knowledge. I was testing your aim."

That's why it's important to aim high — to have dreams that inspire you to go beyond your limits.

Mackay's Moral: A dream is a very exclusive production, played for an audience of one.

• • •

Harvey Mackay is the author of the New York Times bestseller "Swim With the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive." He can be reached through his website,, by emailing or by writing him at MackayMitchell Envelope Co., 2100 Elm St. SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414.

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