Winning at Working: Wishing and Hoping

After the completion of Walt Disney World, the story goes that someone went up to Mike Vance, Creative Director for Walt Disney Studios and said, “Isn’t it too bad Walt Disney didn’t live to see this?” Without pausing, he replied, “But he did see it, that’s why it’s here.”

If any outside figure influenced my life early on, it was Walt Disney. Maybe it was because when I was five, my favorite uncle took me to a wondrous new place called Disneyland; or because I grew up in Southern California, visiting it every year or two, watching a man’s vision come to life and grow; or because I believed that “when you wish upon a star, it makes no difference who you are.”

Growing up on the Wonderful World of Disney, I learned how to dream. But as I got older I realized it wasn’t just the dreaming and wishing that made the dreams possible; it was the doing.

Wishing and hoping are poor strategies for making dreams come true, yet that’s how many people approach their work, New Year’s resolutions, or life desires, often surprised at the results.

They wish they could make more money. They hope they’ll get promoted or offered a more interesting job. They wish someone would notice how hard they work. They hope the work environment improves, their boss comes to her senses, their problem goes away or someone else fixes it.

Their chance of winning at working is right up there with becoming a millionaire on Vegas slots or holding the winning lottery ticket. And while it’s not true the ostrich hides in the sand, many of us do, wondering why we never land our dreams.

Olympic athletics don’t get that way by wishing and hoping. Nor do great musicians, actors, chefs, architects, teachers, lawyers, parents, or business people. And I know I’ll never get another book written and published by wishing it so.

Dreams do come true, but there’s a secret. They’re realized through the magic of persistence, determination, commitment, passion, practice, focus and hard work. They happen a step at a time, manifested over years, not weeks.

While wishing and hoping makes you a dreamer, acting and doing makes you someone who can turn dreams into reality. When it comes to life-dreams and aspirations, I think 20th-century operatic star, Beverly Sills, was right when she said, “You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don’t try.”