Most of us have dreams and visions about creating something new or improving on something that already exists. It's wonderful to dream and envision doing something constructive that can benefit yourself and others. That's exactly how all forward progress occurs in our world. The difficult part of the process is taking those first few steps of the journey down a long and dark road that connects our dreams and visions with reality. That road can be lonely and scary, filled with lots of unknowns and potential disappointments. That's why so few individuals generate the will to start and then display the persistence to travel the entire stretch of the road to the finish line.
Everyone has slightly different motives for traveling down this road. It may be for wealth, fame or just wanting to do what's right to make the world a better place to live. However, most major accomplishments today which begin as dreams and visions and which eventually reach the masses, requires more capital and resources than most people have. And only the stubbornly unyielding, persistent individuals will prevail.
This past week, I realized that I have been subscribing to Forbes Magazine for over thirty years. At 26 issues a year, I realized that I had over 780 opportunities during the past 30 years to read about successful dreamers and visionaries who failed or succeeded. And during those three decades, I witnessed companies like Microsoft, Dell, Home Depot, Starbucks, E-Bay, and hundreds of other marquis brands created from the dream or vision of its founder. We can call these founders smarter or luckier than we are. Or we can face the facts that they were more driven to succeed against all odds; and more persistent and willing to risk everything; in order to travel down whatever road necessary; en-route to turning their dreams and visions into reality.
Most dreamers and visionaries throughout history have been scorned by those they shared their dreams with. Every new and disruptive idea seems crazy at first because the visionary is the only person who can clearly see the finished product or service. Can you even imagine the terrible names people called the inventors of the radio; telephone; airplane or TV? These visionaries were defying the logic of the times, yet they persevered against all odds. And the world has benefited tremendously from their efforts.
Today we are living in an age when we believe that almost anything might be possible. Public and private companies as well as venture capitalists invest tens of billions of dollars every year on research and development to improve their products; as well as on new ideas and visions that will create a return for their investment. There's never been a better time in history to be a visionary. However, to become a visionary I believe it is necessary to study the past; stay current with the innovations of the present; and read about the upcoming innovations now in the pipeline for the future. By being a student of innovation, one can become more visionary and dream about improving on what already exists.
I believe it would be prudent to guide our teenagers and college students to set aside some time each day to read about the latest breakthroughs in business and technology. Young people need to develop a thirst for knowledge and learn about success stories found in magazines like Forbes; Fortune; Fast Company; Business 2.0; or PC Magazine. I happen to subscribe to all of these and 25 more periodicals and must say that I look forward to every edition hitting my mailbox. As parents, we invest tens of thousands of dollars on our kid's college education; yet probably overlook taking out an inexpensive subscription to Fast Company or Inc. Magazine which costs around $12 per year each. I recently read in a US News & World Report that the average cost of a private four-year college education cost $3977 in 1976-1977 and ballooned to $30,367 in 2006-2007. In contrast, the cost of my magazine subscriptions did not rise at all during that period. I believe my exposure to the world's innovations have helped my career tremendously over the years and kept my businesses on the cutting edge. I also believe that this form of exposure to ideas and innovations can stimulate our kids to think and dream and envision for themselves, the possibilities for their own future success.
However let's not limit exposure to innovation, creativity and ideas gathered from magazines to teens and college students. Many valuable brands like McDonald's and Kentucky Fried Chicken were started by innovators like Ray Kroc (53 years old) and Colonel Sanders (65 years old). These two men were neither wealthy nor considered lucky or privileged in any way. What they did possess was the need; the will; and the vision to do something much bigger than most people will attempt. If more individuals studied the many success stories of others, I believe it would provide the impetus to dream and act on their visions. It's never too early or too late to begin reading about and studying the success of others. Now is as good a time as any, to take action for yourself and your loved ones!