If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.
I saw this image and I was immediately transported back to my favorite book from childhood, The Phantom Tollbooth written by Norton Juster and imaginatively illustrated by Jules Feiffer. Though the book is on its face an adventure story, a major theme is the need for a love of education; through this, Milo applies what he has learned in school, advances in his personal development, and learns to love the life that previously bored him.
Milo and Tock travel to Dictionopolis, one of two capital cities of the divided Kingdom of Wisdom, and home to King Azaz the Unabridged. Here, he learns how the two rulers, King Azaz and his brother, the Mathemagician, had two adopted younger sisters, Rhyme and Reason, to whom everyone came to settle disputes. All lived in harmony until the rulers disagreed with the princesses’ decision that letters (championed by Azaz) and numbers (by the Mathemagician) were equally important. They banished the princesses to the Castle in the Air, and since then, the land has had neither Rhyme nor Reason.
Norton Juster mastered the use of homophones in this book, meaning words that sound the same but are different in meaning or spelling. I was so excited by this book, I made my parents read it. If I were smarter… I would have asked them to option it. It has since been made into films, operas, plays and translated into most languages.
Building a castle in the air is the essence of the biggest daydreams. Elon Musk is doing it with colonizing Mars and converting America into auto driving electric vehicles. Kennedy did it when he promised we would get to the moon in that decade, knowing we did not have the knowledge or resource to do it. In Good to Great, Jim Collins refers to this process in business as a BHAG. Big Hairy Audacious Goal. People rally around BHAGs like none other. Sizzle is a BHAG and that is why our team is so proud and dedicated to achieving it.
I realized at a very early age that I was addicted to the experience of promising The Illusion Factory could do something that no one else had ever done. Then committing to a time line and a budget. Right after the deposit was received, I always had the same first reaction… a giant lump in my throat and an intense fear of what the hell had I just committed to? But the truth always proved the same… you end up taking a first step with either the left foot or the right one. In either case, it was probably the wrong one… but it was the first step of a journey we had committed to. The only option left was to do what we said we were going to do and surpass all of our expectations.
If I could impart any single thought into the mind of a very young entrepreneurial mind, it would be this….. never, ever limit your dreams, as no dream is too large for contemplation, consideration and development. Even if you fall short of the dream itself, the quest to get there will bear fruit for something magical, almost without exception.
And once that castle has been visualized, as Thoreau so aptly states….put the foundations under them.
The Phantom Tollbooth
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