road-to-2007-sm.jpgLooking at successful people, like actor Harrison Ford, author Maya Angelou, singer Gloria Estefan, and cyclist Lance Armstrong, we wonder: How did they do it? How did they achieve their phenomenal success? It starts with a dream, a deep-seated, heartfelt desire. Then, if you can steadfastly hold onto any of these 10 qualities, you will be on your way.

Harrison Ford wanted to be an actor so badly that even a short-sighted studio producer could not discourage him. After Ford’s film debut playing a bellboy with one line to say (“Paging Mr. Jones, paging Mr. Jones,”) the producer took him aside to tell him he didn’t have what it takes to be a true actor. “You ain’t got it, kid!”

Swallowing his pride, Ford disregarded the criticism and kept trying out for parts. On the side he delivered pizzas, built furniture for the stars, did whatever it took to pay the bills. Four decades later, after his roles in Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and dozens of other movies, plus an Oscar nomination, Ford continues to act in blockbuster films. What would have become of him had he listened to that powerful, intimidating honcho?

The truth is that everybody has to overcome obstacles to reach their goals and dreams. Grammy Award-winner Gloria Estefan had to overcome debilitating shyness to be able to get up in front of people and sing. Later in life, she spent nearly a year doing intensive physical therapy after her spine was fractured in a traffic accident. Through sheer determination she recovered and got back on stage.

Dr. Maya Angelou, Pulitzer Prize-nominated poet and bestselling author, once was a single mom who worked long hours as a diner cook and cocktail waitress to support herself and her young son. And well before winning his first of seven consecutive Tour de France victories, Lance Armstrong beat testicular cancer that had spread to his abdomen and brain.

I don’t think anybody has it easy, really. People who live their passion and create the lives they dream of went through a number of trials to get there. And the reason they got there was that they kept going. They didn’t give up. We can learn a lot from their real-life examples.

To rise above challenges and keep moving forward to the life you envision, whatever your dreams may be, it helps to hold on to these ten qualities along the way:

Confidence in yourself, including your specific abilities and set of skills
Creativity to think outside the box and come up with solutions
Commitment to your dreams
Courage to keep moving forward even when others tell you that you can’t
Passion for what you’re doing
Purpose, the sense that you’re doing something meaningful
Persistence to keep you going despite obstacles and challenges
The ability to take a calculated Risk when necessary
Resilience to get back on track after you fail and even learn from those failures
Personal Responsibility for developing beneficial dreams and seeing your dreams through to completion

Put all these together and what do you have? Dream CPR to revive and resuscitate your dreams! The more you develop these qualities, the better equipped you’ll be to reach a dream.

Next time I’ll talk about specific, practical things you can do to start on the path to achieving a dream of your choice. For now, I’ll leave you with a few eye-opening facts from my co-authored book, Dream It Do It: Inspiring Stories of Dreams Come True.

Did You Know That …

  • It took Harrison Ford 14 years to become an established actor. During that time he became a carpenter to pay the bills, but he never gave up his dream.
  • Tiger Woods, considered by many as the best golfer of all time, was not allowed on some golf courses. He also received hate mail.
  • When journalist Barbara Walters worked with Frank McGee, co-host of Today, in the early 1970s, Frank had written into his contract that she couldn’t ask guests a question until he had asked three. Barbara worked into her contract that if Frank ever left the show, she would replace him. When he died unexpectedly of bone cancer in 1974, Barbara became the first woman to co-host the Today show.
  • Master cellist Yo-Yo Ma maintains a rigorous schedule, performing in concerts and teaching music students, despite painful tendinitis.
  • Comedienne Joan Rivers counts Nancy Archuleta as one of her role models. Nancy had been a high school dropout and teen mom, but she went back to school and later became CEO of engineering firm MEVATEC.
  • Bill Nye “the Science Guy” left a secure job in engineering to write and perform comedy.
  • In his first pro cycling race, seven-time “Tour de France” champion Lance Armstrong came in 111th place out of 111 racers.
  • Denver resident Cale Kenney became a champion skier, despite having lost her left leg in an accident.
  • Michael Clarke Duncan dug ditches for a living for Chicago’s gas company before deciding to move to Hollywood and, without any prior acting experience, audition for roles. When he was down to his last $20 he almost went back to Chicago, but his mom encouraged him to keep trying. He stuck with it, and in 1999 Michael received an Oscar nomination for his role in The Green Mile.

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Graciela Sholander co-authored Dream It Do It: Inspiring Stories of Dreams Come True, a perfect gift for your college bound graduate (which was published also in a Korean-language edition in South Korea). A big fan of the Good News Network, Graciela is a freelance writer who’s written hundreds of articles and has ghostwritten a dozen books including memoirs, health and wellness manuals, and spiritual guides.

(Above photo, Road to 2007
, submitted by Pamela Shandel (c) 2007)


  1. Hi, as a fellow motivational speaker I can say this article has great advice and the book looks wonderful. I recent One Minute Motivator of mine supports the basic idea of the book: “Don?t believe a word you Think. On average 70% of the thoughts we have in the course of a day are negative, so this will tend to put a negative spin on many of the ideas you have. Analyze the thoughts you have to see if they support your goals and your self image. If they do not toss them out and move on to those thoughts that will move you ahead. “

    OK, keep up the good work, Ed Smith

  2. Thank you for writing this wonderful article, so loaded with truth and hope. It really made my day.

    I have a college bound graduate, and your book indeed sounds like the perfect gift.

    In my experience, it’s never through lack of ability that most people fall short of their goals. Instead, it is because of a lack of a definite goal and persistance (the ability to see things through).

    As Frank Tibolt said in his book: “A Touch of Greatness”…”Brilliance, cleverness, even genius are no match for plain repetition, persistance, patience and discipline.”

    Thank you again for a wonderful article and gift idea.

    Alex Goumakos

  3. Thanks Alex! You’re absolutely right–most of the time we have what it takes to reach a dream, but the main ingredients that are missing are BELIEVING that we can do it … and sticking to it.

  4. A great article. Indeed the most difficult part of obtaining any goal is patience, and our ability to endure the wait – toward obtaining the desired results. Patience, patience, patience, along with perseverance…that is the true formula for success…

    Keith Johnson

  5. YES, Keith, you said it… I know, on my road to success with the GOod News Network, that PATIENCE is the number one thing I have been challenged by… I am on my 11th year of trying to strengthen my patience! All the viewers here are blessed that I have the other ingredient you mention.. perseverence.

  6. Thanks Graciela. Every time I read something from your book it inspires me.

    We know deep inside of us that it is worth going on at something. That we have the talent in an area and the facts say it could happen.

    But we can be put off by notions that if it has not worked, we need to give up and try something else. Often friends and family do not help much. Yet if anything we need to keep going, often trying things a different way to make use of what we know is our best talent and past work. They are assets. Failures too are assets as they teach us what to avoid.

    What I like is that you went out there and researched those that made it. And their roads were far from orderly and perfect. The media gives out this idea that everyone who has “made it” just did it right away with emmense talent and you are either made for it or not. If it does not work out right away then forget it. But it is simply is not true! And research proves this.

    Thanks, great post, and Happy Christmas!


  7. Thank you, Andrew! You’ve hit it on the mark — sometimes we have to go after our dreams differently than we’ve already tried, approach it from another angle, try a new tactic, as we keep moving forward. I totally agree with your point about failures. Yes, they teach us so much! A failure is not the end of the world. It’s a learning experience.

    I’m always amazed at how many people who’ve “made it” had to overcome incredible challenges. Some great athletes were very sick as children … some great minds did very poorly in school. One should never give up just because something doesn’t go according to plan at some point in life. Like Keith said in an earlier comment — success takes patience and perseverance!

    Happy Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

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