When I was 14 I moved in with my mother’s parents for a year. That was a year I will never forget. I remember my Grandpa Bill picking me up from school one Friday afternoon and asking if I wanted to get some ice cream. I was excited, but I asked why we were getting on the highway. He told me he heard about a great ice cream parlor in Ashville, North Carolina. We lived in Long Island, New York, so this drive for ice cream took over 13 hours. We stopped at a payphone to call my grandmother to let her know we wouldn't be home for dinner. What an adventure!
That summer Grandpa Bill asked if I wanted to go with him to pick up a new car. This time I asked some important questions. “Grandpa, where is the car you purchased and how long will it take to get there?” His reply was priceless, “Austin, Texas, and it should take us around 30 hours, but if we do some sightseeing we will be gone an entire week.” I grabbed a few things, hopped in the car and off we went. In those days we didn't have I-Pods or satellite radio. My grandfather played the same two cassette tapes over and over and over. By the 30th hour I could impersonate Frank Sinatra and Kenny Rogers.
I did find it peculiar that my grandfather never used a map. I remember asking him how we would find our way without one. I’m not sure if he was trying to teach me a life lesson or was simply a maverick when he said, “Imagine where you want to end up and get started in any direction…just be prepared to adjust along the way.”
I recently heard the story of a high school student named George. He dreamed of becoming a race car driver. He had trouble focusing in school because all he could think about was driving his car on the weekends. He was pretty reckless and he accumulated many speeding tickets. One night he pulled up to a red light and challenged the driver next to him to a drag race. When the light turned green, the two teen drivers took off. George crashed and almost died. His injuries were so severe that his dream of becoming a race car driver vanished.
Fortunate to be alive, George adjusted his dreams. He picked up a camera and started making amateur movies of race cars. He developed a passion for filming and pursued many opportunities. He took film classes at college and worked entry level jobs. He realized he could do what he loved and get paid when he was offered the chance to work a camera at a Rolling Stones concert. In his late twenties he wrote a screenplay and was hired to direct a movie about his passion for cars and racing. The film was called American Graffiti and George was nominated for two Academy Awards.
A few years later George wrote another movie. He was offered $150,000 to direct it. Instead of accepting the money, he made a counter offer. He would do the project at a much lower salary if he could have the license rights to all the merchandise. This was unheard of at the time, as movies rarely generated any money for merchandise so the movie studio immediately said yes.
George Lucas went on to direct Star Wars and the rest is history. Last week George sold his company, Lucasfilm, to Disney for over 4 billion dollars. He has promised to donate half of his earnings to support education. He believes the survival of our human race depends on our ability to teach children to imagine and then to adapt.
George created the character Yoda and one famous lines he wrote for him was, “There is no try, there is only do or do not.” Living your dreams begins with having a vision and then taking action. As my Grandfather suggested, you only need to get started in any direction. Life is complicated, but you will never be off course if you remember to adapt and adjust your path along the way. Here’s one last piece of advice from George, “May the force be with you!”
Until next week…
Live Your Dreams