They Were Wrong: Build It. Go the Distance. They Will Come.
Stop dissing Field Of Dreams, and watch it again.
Field of Dreams is one of my favorite movies, and business types keep jacking with it. There is a recurring narrative on the internetworksweb that goes something like this:
If you build it, they won’t come.
I have probably read or heard that view a dozen or more times, to the point where I believe it’s giving my movie a bad tarnish. And I don’t take that too kindly.
Over the past three years or so, I’ve read many declarations like:
“Just because a product is out there doesn’t guarantee that consumers will come.”
“Great ideas without equally great promotion are as good as non-existent. “
“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it still make a sound?”
This one is even worse:
“If consumers never discover or buy them, are they still great?”
Here is what they miss entirely. If you really look at the movie, you’ll see that there was much more that had to be done than building the baseball field, sure. But the fact that he acted on his dream was the absolute most courageous and vital thing he could do.
He also had to sell his ass off.
That field was an act of passion. I might be foolish, but I believe every morning we wake up, and in a tiny alcove in the fold of our mind, we have a vision of what we really want to do, a nagging inner voice that reveals the true nature of what we are put here to do. And for the most part we ignore it because we have bills to pay. Fine. Maybe that’s why we are unhappy and up to 70% of us are scanning job sites every week.
But this dude at some point decides to plow his effing cornfield under to create a baseball diamond. By himself. Do you know how much work that is? Especially when you have to stare your daughter in the face and explain your apparent insanity? Peer pressure alone would wilt the mettle of most people. But he does it. Because it’s his dream. He’s compelled to do it.
Here is where it gets good: He finishes the thing, and no one shows up. And so far this is correct in the world of interweb entrepreneurism, and they are right. No one believes in what he’s doing. Here he is, a man on an island.
Contemplating his rationality. Wondering about the state of his mental health. He’s close to losing his family. His house is going to be repossessed!
But here is where everyone gets it wrong: The guy realizes he’s only halfway finished. In my absolute favorite scene in cinema, he has another dream, about him taking Darth Vader to a ball game, and it turns out his wife shares that exact same dream. He packs his stuff and heads to Boston.
Did you miss that? He drives across the country to sell people on going to this baseball field. He sells! He markets the hell out of this field, basically telling people that they can relive their dreams, right there, on his field. What a pitch! Talk about skills!
Not only that, he’s got tenacity. He basically crashes through the door of James Earl Jones to take him to a ballgame (another sales tactic) to schmooze him. That’s insane! Nobody messes with Darth Vader. Yet this guy is crazy enough about his cornfield baseball park to risk getting cut down with a light saber to sell an appointment, with the ultimate goal of taking him back to Iowa. Talk about selling small commitments!!!
He then drives from Boston to Minnesota to pick up another recruit. He is criss-crossing this nation of ours to sell others on this insane idea. The point is: He built it, they didn’t come. He put everything into his vision, despite all of the naysayers, and only when he sold his idea, after risking poverty, his home, his family, did he triumph. And he did this not for himself, but for all of those players who never got their shot. Who didn’t get a fair handshake, who for whatever reason or circumstance didn’t fulfill their dream. This was for them.
I think most entrepreneur authors slept on this film. This is a movie about that small voice. That tiny ray of light that resides in the back of your mind, that nags you to do something. That doesn’t go away with years of being normal, of fitting into the status quo. It’s always there. And it is there to remind you that you don’t have to be like your parents. That you don’t have to be like the Joneses. That you don’t have to take the typical, preordained route to your destination.
To be conscious of this entity, to dig deep and fully realize who you really are and what you really want to do, to find that passion to risk everything to express yourself is the one true obligation you have in this life. And to realize that you are ultimately doing what you do not for yourself, but to give that gift to others. Now that is the greatest sense of fulfillment that you can achieve.
I get it. You need to market your product. I often tell people that when they finish a project or product, they are only half done, because they now need to tell the story. But that doesn’t mean if they don’t, they are unsuccessful. If you actually did something, you win, because most people don’t even act.
If you truly build it, you win. Whether or not people show up. Your job is to put it out there. Your job is to be an artist. Or a creator. Just get it done. If you want to take the next step, then sell the hell out of it and live like no one else.
Costner had it right all along. Follow your dreams, build it. Then sell it. Go the distance.