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Follow Your Dream, Day #418: Building Planet Ireland

Any journey you embark upon has trials. We find ourselves -- or find ourselves lacking -- when tested. And the greater the dream, the greater the challenge.

Feet of Flames, in Hyde Park 1998, is considered by many to be the high-water mark of commercial #IrishDancing, even to this day. Even though #LordOfTheDance has gone on to perform in far larger venues -- stadiums with over 100,000 people in attendance -- there's a certain magic to Feet of Flames as a statement that captivates imaginations even now.

Consider the journey it took to get there: an impoverished child from the wrong side of Chicago who grows up into an "uneducated" day laborer. If you were working with such a man at a construction site in Los Angeles in the early 90's, you'd assume your buddy Mike was a bit eccentric for his continuing fascination with some obscure folk dance, desperately clinging to some childhood dream that he'd eventually grow out of.

Because the truth is this: following your dream is *hard.* And success, paradoxically, can make things harder, since you have to keep upping the ante. If you stagnate, you die. Hence why most people play it safe.

Most people are not Michael Flatley.

The sheer logistics of creating a stage show are far beyond what most imagine. It requires extreme attention to granular levels of detail, yet at the same time an ability to navigate through an obstacle course and not lose your sense of direction. Like seeing a mountain in the distance: you head towards it with the intention of climbing it, and the details become clearer along the way, until the full enormity of what you're looking up at really hits you.

The difficulty curve becomes that much steeper when you scale up your stage show to the level of Feet of Flames. Now the mountain has dive bombers.

This is when you dig deep, and you find the will to succeed. Because it's your *dream,* and the dream is real -- it's right there -- if you work hard to make it real.

In interviews throughout the decades, Michael's often been asked where he gets his legendary self-confidence from. If you truly understand the story -- not intellectually, but in your very bones -- of having to *fight* your way up, every single step, nothing handed to you, no guarantee of success, having to believe in yourself because literally no one else will -- then you understand the utter relentlessness of someone who refuses to give up.

That's not ego. That's *belief.*

And if you understand the man, you understand the ethos of the show. Hence why it inspires so many people around the world to this day, 24 years later.

This is Lord of the Dance. The billion-dollar dance show built in ten weeks. We didn't come here to finish second.

Planet Ireland arises: 2021.


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