Big dreams still come when we are at the top of our game, but sometimes the most influential ones come to us on the way up.
If you read closely the profiles of those at the top, chances are you will find the moment when everything changed for them -- and chances are that moment came in a dream. In The New Yorker last month, director James Cameron tells about being sick and broke, staying in a tiny flat at a time of struggle early in his career.
One night, he said, he dreamed of "a chrome skeleton emerging out of a fire." Then he sketched the figure cut in half and crawling after a woman. He said, "I thought, That was cool. I've never seen that in a movie before."
Unlike most of us, who might have a startling dream image and never do anything with it, Cameron enlisted a couple friends to help him create a movie script based on that image of a metallic death-figure rising like a phoenix from the flames. The result, three years later, was The Terminator, a movie that changed the game not just for James Cameron, but for Hollywood storytelling itself.
One night in a dream, Jerry saw a marquee lit against a black sky and on it, in dazzling letters: JERRY WEINTRAUB PRESENTS ELVIS AT MADISON SQUARE GARDEN. The next morning, Jerry called RCA Records and was told to contact the Colonel -- Tom Parker, one of the most vilified men in show-business history...
Far from being cowed by the Colonel's reputation, Weintraub called him every day for months until he finally answered. It took still more time for Weintraub to convince the Colonel to go along with his wild plan to get Elvis back on the road. But with persistence his dream came true -- and after Elvis's success followed Frank Sinatra's, and a host of other big acts (not to mention movies) that Jerry Weintraub made huge.
Not all of us are destined to end up on stage thanking the Academy, but we all have wild dreams that can produce game-changing results. The entertainment industry is struggling today, but in a way that is the best news possible. Who knows how many talented people tonight will have the next big dream that could change the stories we tell, and how we tell them?
One thing is certain: the only dream that has a chance in the world is the one that someone is brave enough, and maybe desperate enough, to follow.