The Possible Dream
Courage to Pursue My Dream
LES BROWN'S DREAM
I am not sure when I first heard of Les Brown. I think it was 1989 when I lived in Phoenix. I know it was from a television program and I was amazed with this man. Born in 1945, he was a twin, adopted by a single woman, Mamie Brown, when he was only 6-weeks-old. He was labeled “educably (sic ) mentally retarded” in the fifth grade.¹
In his book, “Live Your Dreams”, he speaks of a very important lesson he learned one day when he was carrying a bag of groceries home and two boys started beating him up. His Mama had told him to drop the groceries and “teach those boys a lesson.” He did just that and from that day, he learned there comes a time when you must drop your burdens and fight for yourself and your dreams.²
Brown got involved in drama and speech classes and his instructor, LeRoy Washington, encouraged him to awaken his innate greatness. He had told Washington that he was “educably (sic ) retarded” and Mr. Washington said to never say that again! He told Brown that someone’s opinion of him does not have to become his reality! Learning this and taking it to heart, he finally became liberated from his childhood label.
He dreamed of being on stage, talking to thousands of people and used to constantly write on scraps of paper, “I am the world’s greatest orator.” Because of this dream, he continually bugged the owner of a local radio station until the man relented and let him work for the station. Having no experience, he was hired to do odd jobs. All the while, he learned everything he could about the station and one day, the deejay was drunk on the radio and being the only one in the station other than the deejay, Brown took over the show. The owner heard him and was impressed and hired him first as a part-time deejay, then full-time eventually. He later moved to Ohio and the news director, Mike Williams, at his new employ, motivated him to become an activist and to get interested in politics. Williams urged him to run for the Ohio State Legislature. In his third term, Brown served as chair of the Human Resources Committee.
Encouraged by Williams and a chance encounter with millionaire motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar (who earned $10,000 for one-hour talks), Brown decided to become a motivational speaker. In the mid-80’s when he made this choice, he moved to Detroit and rented an office that he shared with an attorney. He couldn’t afford to rent an apartment, so he literally slept on the cold, hard floor of his office, choosing not to have a pallet or blanket on the floor, because he wanted to be reminded of the hardness so that he would keep striving. He didn’t want “to get soft.”
In 1989, Les Brown received the National Speakers Association's highest award, the Council of Peers Award of Excellence, becoming the first African-American to receive such an honor. He says he is intrigued by the idea of selling people on their own greatness. He married Gladys Knight, the famous singer and in 1993, had his own short-lived TV show so that he could “use TV in a way in which it's never been used before - to empower people." ³
I would be thrilled to be as successful as he! I have the positive attitude and determination to achieve success. I have a goal and a plan and choose to make my dreams become reality!
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