05/28/2011 09:52 am ET Updated Jul 28, 2011

The Worst Piece of Advice Ever

Mariah Carey is quoted as saying, "Never, never listen to anybody that tries to discourage you," and she's right. She is just one example of a person who faced adversity and challenges yet continued to work hard until she achieved success and then some. When most people think of individuals like Mariah Carey, Barack Obama and J.K. Rowling, they often view their great achievements as effortless and fail to acknowledge the years of hard work they put into getting there. Most people have put them on pedestal so high that they believe it's impractical for the rest of us to reach such lofty goals, or even dare to dream them.

After failing so many times and then failing some more, I began to wonder if they were right. In the past, I read countless books on achieving goals. Most of the books repeat the same catchphrase, "You have to believe it before you see it," and stressed the virtue of faith as the foremost tool for accomplishing any dream regardless of size.

You've heard about faith. Preachers say that the most important time to keep the faith is during your darkest hour (which consequently happens to be hardest time to keep faith). This irritated me to no end as I sat at my desk surrounded with what seemed like piles of rejection towering over me. When I thought I was going through dark times, the times got even darker, and when I thought I'd hit rock bottom, the bottom fell out from under me again and again. Although there were people who told me not to give up, the voice of the naysayers rang louder and clearer: "Be practical," they said.

I didn't dare express my true feelings and loftiest goals to these people. If they didn't think I was practical now, they'd think I was crazy if I told them what I really wanted. Even when I put my words into action and auditioned for my local TV station, or sent out even more query letters for my novel, they'd say the same thing: "Be practical." I didn't heed their advice, but during the darkest times, I wanted to. Being practical would be a lot easier.

You can avoid doing things in the name of practicality for as long as you want; it's not going to be pretty, but neither is facing the challenges that naturally arise on the path to achieving your dreams. Nothing is easy, but when you are working toward something that you truly want, the end result will likely be more pleasant than if you are doing something because someone told you to "be practical."

If you've been spending your time on Earth avoiding your passion or what you love in favor of something more practical, you are not only cheating yourself but the world out of your greatness. Many people have sacrificed their deepest desires in the name of practicality, and if this is you, take some advice from Dr. Seuss: "Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind."

If you notice, the quotes I used from both Mariah Carey and Dr. Seuss are very Zen. There is nothing complex about theses thoughts; they are obvious ideas, so obvious that most of us dismiss them in favor of something more practical.

"You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You're on your own.
And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who'll decide where to go."
--Dr. Seuss, "Oh! The Places You'll Go"

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