A few days ago a friend sent me an interview with a struggling actor.
This actor got a few commercial gigs, but for the most part worked every night as a waiter. Even then he couldn’t afford to pay his bills.
Fortunately, because of the few commercial gigs, this actor had a smart manager. One day the actor asked his manager why he wasn’t getting any work.
His manager said something simple and incredibly profound: “Don’t wait for the work. Create it.”
That night the actor sat down and wrote a scene. And then another scene. And then another. Until he had enough for a TV show pilot.
There was just one tiny little problem: how do you pitch a pilot when you’re a nobody?
The answer is you don’t.
Which stops most people.
But Rob McElhenney borrowed a camcorder, bought some videotapes from Rite Aid, got a few of his actor friends together, and filmed the pilot himself; forgoing the normal pitch process.
A few weeks later, based on the strength of his home produced pilot, he sold It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia to FX Networks, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Interesting note from the interview: “Studios don’t want you to know this, but they need you. They can’t create.”
Poverty, Teaching English, Selling 350 Million Books
There’s a well-known author who writes 2,000 words/day. Under no circumstances does he stop working until he hits this quota. This doesn’t mean he writes 2,000 publishable words every day, but that’s neither here nor there. The literary skills of this author have been debated to no end, but he is one of the most successful (and prolific, for that matter) authors of our time, with dozens of books and sales in the hundreds of millions.
You don’t become incredibly successful by accident.
This author had every excuse in the book. Poverty, a wife, 2 young children, a dead end job, and the list goes on. Maybe you’re in that same situation. (Or, more likely, maybe you’re not.)
That author was/is Stephen King. Even when he was living hand to mouth as an English teacher he came home and did what needed to be done. Even when he couldn’t afford to pay the electric bill he lit a candle and did what needed to be done.
He accomplished everything because he didn’t let himself or anything else get in the way of doing things.
I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m in the unique and privileged position of getting a behind-the-scenes view of a lot of people, beginners and veterans alike, who launch products and websites.
I’m also in the unfortunate position of getting a behind-the-scenes view of a lot of people who never launch anything. I get e-mails very regularly that amount to “Well, I really want to do X, but first I have to learn Y.”
For example, maybe you’ve had a friend who has “always wanted to write a book.” I know I’ve had many as it’s a common goal for a lot of people. Yet, most of them never do it. “I need to finish my degree.” “I need to establish myself in my field first.” “I’m just not good enough.”
That’s all true, but only because that’s what they believe.
If you believe something to be true, it is true.
Follow the trail Rob McElhenney and Stephen King have blazed and you can choose to believe something “impossible” if you’d like.
Recapping Accomplishing No/Every-thing
- Accomplish nothing: Do things that get in the way of doing things.
- Accomplish everything: Don’t do things that get in the way of doing things.
- Poverty is no excuse.
- Dead end jobs are no excuse.
- If you want work, create it.
- Smart people just do shit.