Book Excerpt: Dolly Parton's 'Dream More: Celebrate the Dreamer in You'


It was all a dream, but it was a dream that I just couldn't get enough of. I've held on to the dream every day of my life ever since and done everything I could to make it come true. I learned early on that I could get a lot of attention, especially from my Uncle Bill, by singing and writing little songs. And my Uncle Bill has been there with me all along.

I was gonna be rich no matter how much it cost. I 'uz gonna win no matter how much I lost. All through the years I've kept my eye on the prize. And yes, it's been worth the sacrifice.

The night I graduated from Sevier County High School back in 1964, all the graduates had been asked to stand up and talk about what we were going to do with the rest of our lives. Everybody had a different story. Some said they were going to get married. Others said they were going to take a job in Knoxville. When it came my time, I stood up and said, "I'm going to Nashville and I'm gonna be a star." Well, the whole place laughed out loud. I was so embarrassed. Why is everybody laughing? I thought. That is exactly what I want to do. I felt they were being really cruel. But as bad as I felt and as embarrassed as I was, that moment did not shake me from my dreams. I knew what I needed to do to make my dream come true.

The passing of the years gives you a clearer perspective, so now I really don't think the people were laughing to be cruel or making fun of me. They were just not used to someone dreaming that big or being that sure about it. I always believe that people with big dreams don't often announce them because if they fail, the whole world knows.

I'm sure you've heard someone accuse another person of being a dreamer. Unfortunately, the term "dreamer" is frequently associated with laziness or with people who wish they could do something but who aren't willing to get off their assets and put them to work. A dream can be a nightmare if you let it turn into one. If you just sleepwalk through this world, you're never going to accomplish anything. And the cold, hard facts are that not every dream comes true and not everything you touch turns to gold. But sometimes a failure is just a success dressed in different clothes.

Of course, you have to be careful. Do not confuse dreams with wishes. There is a difference. Dreams are where you visualize yourself being successful at what's important to you to accomplish. And dreams build convictions. Because you work hard to pay the price to make sure that they come true. Wishes are hoping that good things will happen to you. With wishes, there is no fire in your gut, pushing you to the limit to overcome every obstacle to reach your heart's desire. My desire to pursue my dreams has always been greater than my fear of not accomplishing them.

I thank God for my failures. Maybe not at the time, but after some reflection. I never feel like a failure just because something I tried has failed. To me, the secret is all in how you approach things.

Attitude, it's all an attitude. Just because you fail, don't mean you have to lose. But if you want to win, then here's the simple truth. You have to change your attitude.

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