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Never too old to dream big

OPINION

  • A clown from Cirque du Soleil warms up a crowd in New York.
A clown from Cirque du Soleil warms up a crowd in New York. (Reuters )
November 22, 2012|By Nikki Lynette, @nikkilynette | For RedEye

As kids, many of us sat around with our friends and talked about what we wanted to be when we grew up, and we all had such huge dreams. Yet somewhere along the way, many of us traded in our dreams for something we consider to be more practical. Why?

Almost everyone I know hates his or her job. It seems they all have aspirations to do something creative but are too afraid to go for it. I don't get it. At what point do we go from believing we can do anything we dream of to settling for a job that pays the bills?

People seem to have so many reasons why it's OK to work a job they hate ... but why is money more important than happiness?

I am often told by friends how "lucky" I am to be able to make a good living off of my music. I always remind them that luck has nothing to do with it. The key to my accomplishments is all about attitude.

When you are pursuing something you love, you have a better attitude about the work. And when you do great work, you stand out. You get opportunities. And you win. That philosophy is what took me from being a starving artist to being someone who has her music played on major TV networks, who gets featured in magazines that she grew up reading, and who has the coolest fans in the world.

I know the whole "attitude determines altitude" perspective sounds cliche, but I'm not the only person who believes it.

One of my homies who swears by the power of positive attitude is Bill Reishtein, senior VP Group Creative Director at Leo Burnett. I met Bill while doing voice-over work, and he is pretty laid back for a super successful dude with major advertising awards under his belt.

Bill often says how much he respects my hustle, and he told me, "Most people your age don't know that hard work is important ... but your attitude toward the work determines how far you will go." And if you think that there are no jobs for creative people, think again. Bill tells me that he looks for that quality in everyone he interviews for positions at his agency. "I look into their eyes and search for that spark of joy in creativity," Bill says. "When I feel that, I make the hire." Word.

Another friend whose positive attitude brings him success is my boy Jarrett Rashad Kelly, an amazing dancer from Chicago. Jarrett didn't grow up with money. When things got so bad that his family couldn't afford more to eat than hot dogs and soda, Jarrett applied for a part-time job at Target—though he never stopped training and auditioning. Now Jarrett is a professional dancer in Las Vegas for Cirque Du Soleil.

While Jarret and Bill have totally different careers, they do share one thing in common: They surround themselves with people who think the same way they do, people who don't see limitations, people who believe that hard work and a positive attitude pay off. In other words, they don't keep any haters in their circle.

Chasing your dreams is risky, but is it honestly more risky than doing something you hate for the rest of your life? Screw that.

When asked the secret to his success, Jarrett told me, "I always put my dreams first." If you've become too jaded to do that, maybe it's time for you to change your attitude.

RedEye special contributor Nikki Lynette, a Chicago native, is an indie recording artist whose music appears on MTV, VH1, Showtime and more.

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