Margaret Mitchell received 38 rejection letters before Gone With the Wind was published.
The movie Star Wars was rejected by every movie studio in Hollywood before 20th-Century Fox finally produced it. It went on to be one of the largest grossing movies in film history.
As one of the best-selling artists of all time, Elvis has become a household name even years after his death. But back in 1954, Elvis was still a nobody, and Jimmy Denny, manager of the Grand Ole Opry, fired Elvis Presley after just one performance telling him, “You ain’t goin’ nowhere, son. You ought to go back to drivin’ a truck.”
I just read an interview with Steven Tyler in the February issue of O magazine. I’ve become a fan of Tyler’s during his two years on American Idol. I knew the music of Aerosmith but I didn’t spend much time knowing the band so Steven Tyler is someone I am not well acquainted with. This interview gave me some history of him but more than that it affirmed my attraction to Tyler’s personality. I like how he operates on American Idol. He’s honest with these kids but kind. I really like that about his character.
I seldom finish full articles in magazines. I guess I get bored but Steven Tyler kept me interested. He spoke very openly about his past and his future. I was moved by his honesty. During the interview Oprah asks about Tyler’s role in American Idol.
Oprah: …Sometimes when people are really bad – so bad that those of us at home think, “God, is this a plant?” – are you thinking, “What am I going to say?”
Tyler: Yeah . . . because believe me, some of them come in and I go, “You don’t really think you can sing, do you?” And they’ll look at me and go, “What? My grandfather told me I could sing. Mom told me I can sing. Are you saying I can’t sing?” That’s when my heart breaks.”
Oprah: Is it hard for you to hurt people’s feelings?
Tyler: Yeah. I’ll tell you why. How many children have been sung to by their mothers when they’re 3 years old? Even though their mother can’t sing. They sing to them anyway – “You are the angel of my life.” I don’t want to tell someone they can’t sing and they go home and now they’ll never sing to their baby.
I wept at that. The thought of someone not singing to their children makes me so sad. It’s one of those memories I have of my mom singing me to sleep while rocking in a chair. The memory of her voice still wraps me in warmth. The thoughtfulness of Tyler to consider the tenderness of song that comes to children from their parents touches me.
There is another emotion connecting me to Tyler’s words. It’s how I felt about the students I worked with. I never wanted to make someone feel like they couldn’t do something. We all can do things at different levels and varied degrees of skill. Not everyone can write a novel but maybe they can write a grant bringing in money to a non-profit. Not everyone can manage a math equation, but they may be great at balancing their checkbook. Not everyone loves fishing but they may make a great fish taco. Everything about education points to whether you’re good enough, all those tests, all those grades, every mark that tells a student they are not the best. For those top kids it’s real nice but for all the others which is everyone else except #1, they are not as good according to the standards we have set. Certainly on Idol we heard Simon Cowell tell people to take up another hobby. They were not singers. There were times I had to agree but Steven Tyler notes the importance of not crushing someone’s dreams with unnecessary hurtful comments. I love this. I have heard people say that they were told by teachers or other adults to find some other dream. They just didn’t have what it takes. Thankfully many who hear this ignore the advice and often go on to become one of the best at whatever it was they were discouraged from doing.
So no matter what someone has told you, do not quit at whatever it is you love, enjoy or dream about. And without question continue bringing warmth and comfort by singing to those children in your life