Last night I did my third speech at Toastmasters. As I am working to achieve my writing goals and dreams, I decided to talk about people who never gave up on their dreams, even when up against massive obstacles. I was surprised by how moved I was when I heard about the tough road Sylvester Stallone travelled to achieve his dream.
Although Stallone has been a movie star for over three decades, his dream of being an actor and screenwriter did not come easily. His mother had a difficult labour which left Stallone with a partially paralyzed face, including a droopy lower lip and slurred speech. All doors slammed in his face when he pursued the movie business; he was repeatedly told that he was dopey looking and that that no one would hire an actor who talked out of the side of his mouth.
But Stallone persevered for years. He went to agencies a dozen times. He tried out for every acting role but he never got one job. His wife left him as she was sick of being broke and tired of having no heat in their tiny apartment. But his lowest point, Stallone admitted in a magazine interview, was when he has to sell his beloved dog to a stranger for $25 just to eat.
Two weeks later Stallone watched a fight between Muhammad Ali and a guy who kept getting knocked down by the boxing great. Stallone was inspired and spent the next 20 hours writing the screenplay for the movie we all now know as Rocky. Within a month he sold the screenplay for $35,000 and the right to the starring role.
(As a sidenote, Stallone tracked down the guy who had bought his dog off him for $25 and tried to get him back. But that fellow loved Stallone’s dog just as much and it took $15,000 and a role in Rocky to get his best friend back.)
Stallone’s story is a great example of why you should never give up on your dreams. He proves that you may not have the smarts or the looks or the resources but if you have a burning desire to achieve your dream, you will eventually find a way to reach it. I challenge you to keep reaching for your dream, no matter what it is!