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“Argue for your limitations and sure enough, they're yours.”

—Richard Bach

History provides numerous examples of successful people who were confronted with many “can'ts” in terms of making their dreams come true.

  • Sandra Day O'Conner, the first woman on the United States Supreme Court, could not get a job as a lawyer on graduating from law school. The only job offered to her was that of a legal secretary.

  • Michael Jordan, arguably the best basketball player of all time, was cut from his high school basketball team.

  • Ludwig van Beethoven, one of the world's major composers, was told by a music teacher that he had no talent for music. In fact this teacher once remarked about Beethoven, “As a composer he is hopeless.”

  • As a young man, Walt Disney, the great cartoonist and movie producer, was advised to pursue another line of work by a newspaper editor in Kansas City, “You don't have any creative, original ideas.”

  • A Munich schoolmaster told 10-year-old Albert Einstein, who later became a brilliant scientist, “You will never amount to much.”

  • In 1962, Decca Recording Company turned down the opportunity to work with an unknown music group called The Beatles. Their rationale was “We don't like their sound and guitar music is on the way out.” Of course, this “unknown” singing group subsequently became a legendary group of musicians.

  • Dr. Seuss's first children's book, And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street, was rejected by 27 publishers. The twenty-eighth publisher, Vanguard Press, sold 6 million copies of the book.

  • The book Chicken Soup for the Soul, written by Jack Canfield and Mark Hansen, was turned down by 33 publishers before Health Communications agreed to publish it. All the major New York publishers said, “It is too nicey nice” and “Nobody wants to read a book of short little stories.” Since that time, more than 10 million copies of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series have been sold worldwide, with translations in 20 languages.

  • In 1935, the New York Herald Tribune's review of George Gershwin's classic Porgy and Bess stated that it was “surefire rubbish.”

  • Thomas Edison, the inventor of the electric light, the phonograph, and more than a hundred other useful items, was told by a teacher that he was too stupid to learn anything.

  • During their first year in business, the Coca-Cola Company sold only 400 bottles of Coke.

  • In response to Fred Smith's term paper proposing reliable overnight delivery service, a Yale University management professor wrote, “The concept is interesting and well formed, but in order to earn better than a C, the idea must be feasible.” Of course, Smith went on to establish Federal Express Corporation, based on the ideas in this “average” paper.

  • Inventor Chester Carlson pounded the streets for years before he found backers for his Xerox photocopying process.

  • Before he founded Apple Computer Inc., Steve Jobs was rejected by Atari and Hewlett-Packard during his attempt to get interest in his personal computer idea. Hewlett-Packard personnel remarked, “Hey, we don't need you. You haven't gotten through college yet.” Jobs thus pursued the idea himself, and Apple's first year's sales exceeded $2.5 million.

  • In December 1977, with only $20,000 to his name, Michael Burton was laughed at by colleagues and bankers when he quit his lucrative small business consulting job and vowed to turn his snowsurfing concept into a popular sport. By 1998, however, Burton was owner of Burton Snowboards, the largest pure snowboarding company in the world, with annual sales of over $150 million. Due to Burton's promotional efforts, snowboarding is enjoyed by 8 million people worldwide, and it officially became a medal sport in the 1998 Winter Olympics. Who's laughing now?

These are just a few illustrations of people who persevered—who led themselves by using their strengths, skills, and determination to overcome the “can'ts” in their lives— who in their mind knew they could do it. They did not let initial failures rob them of their dreams. They followed their inner voices and kept forging ahead until their fantasies became realities.

What is your dream? Is it perhaps to become a doctor? A lawyer? A supermodel? A CEO? Is it to start your own business? To raise a healthy and happy family? To become a teacher? A rock star? A television news anchor? Maybe you want to win an Academy Award? Possibly even become president of the USA? Despite what some may try to tell you, whatever you want to become, you can! As William A. Ward once wrote,

If you can believe it, you can achieve it;

If you can dream it, you can become it.

Do you believe in yourself and your ability to make your dreams come true? We hope this book provides you with the skills to lead yourself toward living your goals and dreams. We hope our words solidify your belief in your potential and abilities, so that you can achieve and become whatever you desire. Most of all, we hope the knowledge within the following pages will help you to travel the paths of Michael Jordan, Walt Disney, Dr. Suess, Albert Einstein, and others. These individuals believed that the impossible was possible; that the unthinkable was thinkable; that the undoable was doable. These remarkable individuals thought they could; these go-getters knew they could! Hopefully, this book will help you to also lead yourself to personal excellence!

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