There are times when even the most confident among us begin to doubt ourselves. Times when we can’t see our way through the tangle of mortgages, bills and day jobs. Times when we can’t imagine our dreams coming true because we have to live in the real world.
In 1990 Joy Mangano was a 32 year old divorced mother of three, scraping by as an airline reservationist while supporting her kids, her ex-husband, both of her divorced parents and her grandmother, all under the same roof of a broken down old house. That alone would be enough to crush the spirit of most of us. But Joy had several things going for her:
- A creative and an inventive mind
- An insatiable desire to better herself
- A stubborn streak of resilience and grit
- A grandmother who nurtured her talent and told her she would become a strong, successful woman who would create things
So what did Joy do? She used her creativity to solve a common household cleaning problem. Then she went out, got a patent, built a prototype and tried to sell her new product to anyone who would listen.
But nothing came easily. Stores wouldn’t stock her product, she didn’t have the money for a production run, and both her business partners and her family blatantly sabotaged her efforts.
This woman struggled through things that would stop most of us in our tracks. Yet she persisted, and during one of her darkest times, when it looked like her fledgling business was about to crash and burn, she got some powerful advice:
“Don’t let the Practical hold you down. You have to keep your passion for your dreams…”
Or something like that, I couldn’t tell for sure cause the woman next to me was crunching her popcorn like a pack of Cub scouts. But what I heard went right to that part of me that wants to remember insightful things, to store them away and save them for those dark times where it seems the game is rigged and no matter what I do, the universe will thwart me by holding me down with the Practical.
Meanwhile, Joy went to a gun range, popped off a few rounds from a shotgun to shake off her frustration, then took her Miracle Mop on QVC and sold 18,000 of them in under 30 minutes. Then she invented and patented over 100 products, created the all-time best selling product in the history of electronic retailing, and made over $3 billion dollars in sales (not all in one day, of course).
Today Joy lives in a 42,000 square foot mansion, sells $150 million a year of product through Home Shopping Network, and has all three kids and her ex-husband working right alongside her. And thanks to the movie about her life starring Jennifer Lawrence, HSN has relaunched the Miracle Mop and Joy is crushing it all over again.
But absolutely none of that would have happened if she hadn’t used her passion to keep her dreams alive. If she hadn’t had the determination to keep fighting and the resilience to push through the myriad practical problems that Life threw at her as she tried to become more than she was. To go from ordinary to extraordinary.
So when I’m pining away for someone to “discover me”, snatch me away from my mundane existence and shove me out onto the big stage with the bright lights and adoring fans, I will try to stop and consider what it took for Joy to overcome the practical problems she faced everyday. Problems much bigger than mine. Problems that may have caused me to surrender to the Practical…