When I was nine years old and eleven years old, I paid for my family to go on vacation to Disney World twice. Flights, hotels, food - everything. How did I do it?
Between 1978 and 1996, my hometown of Waterbury, CT was in economic decline and was named by Money Magazine as America’s worst place to live. So, money was tight. My brother and I knew that if we wanted something, we had to make it happen ourselves.
Our local grocery store chain was having a contest. Grand prize was a trip to Disney World. I wanted to go. I grabbed the pad of entries on the next trip there with my mom and enlisted my six year old brother to help.
Each time we went to the store, we grabbed more entries. My parents, moved by our commitment, offered to drive us around to every one of these grocery stores in the state to drop off our filled out entries, in hopes of increasing our chances.
My brother and I filled out three thousand contest entries by hand.
WE WON!!! Everything was included, even the tips at the restaurants. But I got more than a free trip to Disney World. I got early life affirmation that if I dream big and work hard, my dreams can come true.
The inspiration and commitment to do this came from within me. But I didn’t do it alone. The world around me - in this instance, my family - saw my inspiration and commitment and aligned with me, working with me toward my goal until I achieved it. But we didn’t stop there!
I wanted to go back to Disney World. So, my brother and I started collecting cans and bottles. Five cents at a time, we were getting ourselves there. And again, the world around us (our parents) moved! Every weekend, we all went out collecting cans.
Sunday mornings, we hit up all the spots where teens had been drinking. The car stunk like old beer. There were ants. It was gross and hard, we were weird, but it was also fun. We went canning every weekend till we had enough money to take that trip, and we did it!
These experiences taught me four things:
1. Inspiration (dreams) + commitment (work) = SUCCESS.
2. That no one gets anywhere alone. No one is truly self-made.
3. That what is often discussed in the US as a need for personal responsibility or social responsibility is inaccurate. Successful people, successful communities, and successful nations rely on both personal commitments and social support. Put both together, & watch us fly!
4. That I am a person worthy of investment. I am a person who can make big dreams, create an actionable plan, learn the skills needed to make them happen, inspire others to come with me, and share my inspiration and commitment with others.
Quite a lesson to learn at nine! Follow me for more stories and lessons learned. And hello, new friends! Let’s dream and make it happen!