The Advantages of Princes

Ben Arment is the author of Dream Year | dreamyear.net | @benarment

When Sylvester Stallone wrote the movie Rocky and insisted on playing the lead role, it wasn’t a fantastical stretch for him. He didn’t have to work very hard to imagine a boxer’s story.

His mother was a women’s wrestling promoter.

Sylvester grew up in gyms, locker rooms and fighting rings. He understood the fighting sub-culture. As for the slurred speech that made his character so unforgettable – blame it on a forceps mishap during childbirth. He was made to play the role of Rocky.

You may have thought you were dreaming big, but you’ve only been dreaming as big as your experience allows you. The past has conditioned you for the size of your idea. Everything you’ve experienced in life has amounted to the scope and the scale of your dream right now.

If you’re intimidated, frightened or overwhelmed, it’s only because you’ve never done anything like this before. You simply haven’t been exposed to it.

There are people out there doing exactly what you want to do who are not challenged by it at all. They’re not intimidated or overwhelmed, stressed-out or worried. Your dream comes naturally to them because their experience is vaster than yours. They were given more exposure to it because they were born into the industry. They are the sons and daughters of experienced people.

Travis Knight was born in Hillsboro, Oregon, went to Jesuit High School and graduated from Portland State University – a rather unremarkable pathway. But after college, he interned at Will Vinson Studios where he worked on stop-motion animation for TV commercials.

After the terrorist attacks of September 11 in 2001, the advertising industry took a downturn, and Will Vinson Studios found itself in jeopardy. Travis bought the distressed company, which he renamed LAIKA, and became its CEO.

Over the past decade, they moved away from making TV commercials to creating beautiful, stop-motion animated films such as Coraline and ParaNorman.

Travis had the vision to turn a distressed company into a leading animation studio because he grew up with a visionary father. Travis is the son of Phillip Knight, the founder and chairman of Nike.

This is the advantage of princes. They grew up in the castle. They understand how the kingdom is run. Leading an empire is no big deal to them because they grew up watching their parents do it. It has nothing to do with their capabilities. It has everything to do with their conditioning.

While you and I were born at the base of steep learning curves, they were born on high, flat terrain. They’re used to balancing checkbooks with more zeroes in them. They know how to operate the equipment. Their important relationships already existed. Their blood pressure doesn’t rise at things that stress us out. They face less fear and intimidation. They’ve been acclimatized to success.

The secret to breaking into the castle is to face your fear of failure; to take a run at steep learning curves; and to expose yourself to difficult mental territory.

Fear, after all, diminishes with repeated exposure. Soon, you’ll not only understand how the kingdom operates, but you’ll be raising your own children within the castle walls as well.

Ben Arment has launched many creative projects, including STORY and Dream Year. He has started numerous companies, written several books, and served as a development strategist for a variety of global organizations. In the past, Ben served as the innovation and west coast director for Catalyst Conference, the largest leadership organization in the world for young adults. He was also an advertising copywriter, a newspaper reporter, a minister, and an intern in President Clinton’s White House. Ben and his wife Ainsley live in Virginia Beach with their four children: Wyatt, Dylan, Cody and Annie. You can find him on twitter at @BenArment and Instagram at @barment.