When Winston Churchill was a young man, his father concluded that Winston was “unfit for a career in law or politics” because he did so badly in school.
Barbra Streisand’s mother told her she wasn’t pretty enough to be an actress and she could never become a singer because her voice wasn’t good enough.
Conrad Hilton, who created a business empire with his Hilton Hotels, once overheard his father say to his mother: “Mary, I do not know what will become of Connie. I’m afraid he’ll never amount to anything.”
When Charles Darwin was getting ready to set sail on his five-year expedition on the Beagle, his father was extremely disappointed. He thought his son was drifting into a life of sin and idleness.
George Washington’s mother was a harping, complaining, self-centered woman by all accounts. She belittled Washington’s accomplishments and didn’t show up at either of his presidential inaugurations. She was always whining that her children neglected her, and she was especially enraged when her son George ran off to command the army for the American Revolution. She honestly believed it was his duty to stay home and take care of her.
In his youth, the late Leonard Bernstein, one of the most talented and successful composers in American history, was continually pressured by his father to give up his music and do something worthwhile, like help out in his family’s beauty-supply business. After Leonard became famous, his father was asked about that, and he answered, “Well how was I supposed to know he was the Leonard Bernstein?!”
People may criticize you or make fun of your ideas or actively try to stop you. Often their efforts are only attempts to protect you from failure. But failure is only a possibility if you stop. If you keep going, a “failure” is just another learning experience. And besides, giving up on a heartfelt aspiration is worse than failing. “Many people die,” said Oliver Wendell Holmes, “with their music still in them.” That’s true tragedy. So listen politely to the worries and criticisms of your friends and family, and do your best to put their minds at ease, but then carry on. Listen last to your own heart. You know yourself better than anyone on earth. Make sure your song is sung.
Adam Khan is the author of Principles For Personal Growth, Slotralogy, Antivirus For Your Mind, and co-author with Klassy Evans of How to Change the Way You Look at Things (in Plain English). Follow his podcast, The Adam Bomb.