Years after Disneyland was built, 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 because when I was five, my favorite uncle took me to a wondrous new place called Disneyland. Maybe because I grew up in Southern California, visiting it every year or two, watching a man's vision come to life and grow. Or maybe because I learned 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. Like a Dusty Springfield song counsels, "Wishin' and hopin' -- And thinkin' and prayin' -- Plannin' and dreamin' -- Each night of his charms -- That won't get you into his arms."
In my experience wishing and hoping are poor strategies for making dreams come true, yet that's how many people approach work, often surprised at their results. They wish they could make more money. They hope they'll get promoted or offered a more interesting job. They wish someone will notice how hard they work. They hope the work environment improves, their boss comes to her senses, the problem goes away or someone else solves 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 my first book published by wishing it so.
Dreams can come true, but there is 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. Want your work dreams to come true? Make them.