Accomplish No/Every-thing

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.

{ 35 comments }

Bryant Keefe

Thanks Karol for writing/sharing this post. It contains ideas and inspiration I need right now. Simple and true. I love the idea of Don’t wait…Create!

Karol

You’re welcome Bryant. :)

Joel

I agree with everything but the last part

“Smart people just do shit”

I would change “smart” to “successful.” You can be born smart. You have to work to be successful. My .02

Roy Naim

Hey Joel, this reminds me of what I heard Donald Trump once mentioned that he went to school with a lot of very smart people, brilliant, but they are crunching number while he is living a life he wants.

Karol

That’s a good point. But I never said book smart did I? ;)

Roy Naim

Powerful Karol.

When something is must, you go do it.

For example from my own (though outcome not there yet), the NSA (National Speaker Association) bringing in 6 newbies speakers on their stage this summer. These new speakers have to be part of the NSA for less than 2 years and have a demo video of them speaking here and there.

Yes, it is sort of a contest, and though not relying on this, I would be damn if I don’t try.

So here’s the two problems I have, I am not part of the NSA for even one day, and I don’t have a demo video as this is my first step to speaking “professionally” (have spoken many times before).

So the chairman of the conference told me to get in touch with my local chapter president and discuss it with him (and I shouldn’t worry if I am a complete newbie). So I called the local chapter, nice guy and all (WAY too professional in my opinion), and he told me a) I am focused on the wrong thing and b) I shouldn’t do the contest as it is for NSA members and instead I should begin by applying, joining the chapter and perhaps next year go for it.

Now he may be right, but I am stopping there (and again, the contest is an opportunity, not something I will rely on). So instead, once a week for the past 2 weeks and the next 3 weeks, I have decided to do what is called by Brendon Burchard as the “campaign cannon” where once a week you send priority mail with a letter, an article related to the person and even sending them to videos online of you “training” people not just speaking.

You see, I may not be part of the NSA and I may not have a demo video yet, but I have me and my resources so I am going after it. (So far good feedback). When I get it, AWESOME and if not, I will go on and campaign differently.

All this because I don’t stop dreaming about this stage (to the point I have a hard time sleeping at first) because I want this badly.

That said, and I been asking this to see people’s perspective, how does one create a “MUST” in life. Many people may not be poor, or are comfortable that they don’t do anything now before it is too late. Like the fat person who doesn’t lose weight because the dreadful outcome of being fat is not real to them. How does one create it? We know it, but how do we act on it?

Roy Naim

Fourth paragraph from the bottom, it meant to say I am NOT stopping there.

Karol

Roy, that sounds awesome! I would love to hear more when you have more to tell.

Patricia GW

“Don’t wait for the work. Create it.”
This is simple and powerful. This is something I believe, having seen it work to people’s advantage over and over again. Create, produce, don’t wait for anything! You have no one else to blame but yourself; it’s your own personal responsibility.

Karol

That’s right Patricia. :)

Janet Newenham

Reminds me of J.K Rowling, who after writing the 7 Harry Potter books is now richer than the Queen of England and one the richest women in the world. Her beginnings were far from where she is now. She was a single mom, attempting to cope with little money and started writing on the train while her lil baby slept. And look where she is now. True inspiration!

Karol

Yes, her story is similar as well. Thanks Janet. :)

Janna Polzin

Sometimes you come across a blog or quote or picture that gives you just the right message at just the right time. This was just what I needed to read today to shut down the negative loop I’ve been stuck in.

Karol

That’s awesome Janna. I’m glad it could help you out of your negative loop. :)

Charlie

Pete Culler, one of the luminaries in the world of wooden boats, said it well: “Experience starts when you begin”. You never make any progress until you start. Thanks for the nice post, it’s a timely message.

Karol

Never heard of Pete Culler, but I like him already. :) Thanks Charlie!

Farnoosh

Oh what an amazing set of stories, packed with inspiration from real life stories. Thank you thank you, Karol. I have no excuse to slow down my writing. I get discouraged some days but not anymore. I won’t be one of your friends “who never launch anything” – No way! Thank you for killer inspiration here.

Karol

I’m not at all worried that you won’t launch Farnoosh. And I’m quite looking forward to your launch. :)

Tim Conley

I would alter the quote in the article above slightly. “Gatekeepers” don’t want you to know this, but they need you. They can’t create.

Gatekeepers need the creators, but they try to make creators feel inferior so we think we need them.

Karol

True that Tim. Obviously Rob was talking specifically about Hollywood, but it can be extrapolated to almost anything.

Sarah St John

Love this! So inspiring! I especially liked “Studios don’t want you to know this, but they need you. They can’t create.” What struck me with this is that it’s not only studios, but any company, especially giant companies. They try to make us believe we can’t survive without them, but the truth is they can’t survive without us. It takes people to create and dream and with the internet, we can put our creations out there without begging a giant corp to back us. That is very empowering to remember. It’s also a reminder that if we just get off our butts and do stuff, we can survive! Thanks again Karol…always timely and inspirational.

Janna Polzin

They absolutely cannot survive without us! The big guys make the biggest profit from the creativity of the little guys. All of them, no matter what industry, outsource all the big stuff to small companies.

Reminds be what Douglas Rushkoff spoke about at a Web 2.0 Conference. This is an eye-opening speech! http://rushkoff.com/videoaudio/web-20-2/

Karol

Thanks Sarah. You and Tim (just above you) are spot on with this! :)

Dan

Amen. That’s it.

Susan

Create the work – I just recently figured this out and began applying it to my own life, and it is working well! Karol, I would love to read a post or more about some ways that people stay on task, stay motivated, stay on their trajectory, stay positive and focused.

Karol

Thanks Susan. Leo at http://www.zenhabits.net has tons of posts like that! :) And he even wrote http://www.focusmanifesto.com

Susan

thanks, I’ll check it out. Always looking for inspiring resources like yours!

Tom Meitner

I bet Rob never thought he’d be compared to Stephen King, hey?

What’s great about this point is that it is endlessly motivating and gives you complete control over your destiny. When you set goals or ideas that you want to achieve, the only thing you can focus on is your actions. Like writing a book: you maybe can’t make a book happen, but if you focus on the actions, like writing 2K words a day, a book WILL happen eventually.

Karol

It’s less about setting goals and more about not making excuses. I would venture to guess than 99% of people who set goals never make a solid attempt at achieving them. Part of the issue is not knowing how to set goals, but a big part is making excuses as to why they can’t be achieved.

Kenny Eller

Awesome! Enough said!

Karol

:) Thanks Kenny.

Laura

Inspiring post. I never knew that about Stephen King!

Karol

Yeah, if you’re interested in the full story he wrote a book called On Writing that I highly recommend. It’s autobiographical but also how-to. It’s actually the only Stephen King book I’ve ever read. :)

Erin Wilson

“If you want work, create it.”
That’s it exactly. Thanks :)

Karol

You’re welcome Erin. I only wish I came up with that!

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