Friday, July 24, 2015

Ensure You're Always Lucky

What does it take to succeed?
Many will say luck. When someone excels they got lucky, but that luck took a lot of hard work, time,  and dedication. How can you be lucky?

Stuart Sharp saw a vision of an orchestra playing after the tragedy of his son dying. Stuart could neither read nor play music, but he knew he had to transcribe the symphony he remembered so vividly. Stuart left his family to move to London, buying a guitar and recorder and teaching himself to play while living in a hostel. He teamed up with a jazz musician that provided a place to stay and they composed the symphony. Stuart's next step was recording the symphony professionally, which would cost over a million dollars. Fifteen years later Stuart had saved enough and recorded the symphony. He submitted a demo to the Philharmonia Orchestra, one of the world's greatest, who reserve their talents for established composers and film makers. When the conductor finally listened to the demo, he was amazed at what he heard and called Stuart in the middle of the night.
The symphony has been called genius, all the more impressive because Stuart had never composed a symphony before.

I'm not urging anyone to leave their family, but what if we had a fraction of that dedication? Great things can happen if you pursue dreams without ceasing.  I often create artificial barriers, but Stuart had numerous real barriers that blocked his dream. He simply dismissed them.

Andy Weir, a computer programmer, was fired from AOL and dedicated himself to writing a novel. When it failed to get published, he went back to programming. Andy didn't abandon his writing. He began posting short stories on his blog. He started a serial story, each segment honed by reader comments. When the story was finished, his loyal readers requested a Kindle version. The Martian became a Kindle best seller, was optioned for publication, and became the movie by the same name, releasing this year.

With whatever you do, there will be people who don't like it and even reject it. Failure not only precedes success, it's often mandatory. Pursue a project because you're passionate, not because you seek approval from others. Dedicate yourself to producing content. Each misstep is an opportunity to refine your craft. Success is a factor of determination.

Alphonso Gomez-Rejon, director of Me And Earl And The Dying Girl, started his journey as a filmmaker when he saw Martin Scorcese's Mean Streets. He attended NYU and became Scorcese's personal assistant. On the set of Casino, Alphonso would sketch a scene from the script and then watch Scorcese create that scene. Alphonso became a second unit director for a number of films before directing television episodes and eventually feature films.

Hone your craft. The internet provides multiple networks with tutorials to make you better. Make the next project better, learn new skills, and never settle for good enough.

They spent countless hours dedicated to honing their craft.

These are three success stories. Maybe you think they got lucky, but each shares a common thread. They spent countless hours dedicated to honing their craft. None of them were instantly successful.

I recently started a podcast. I had many excuses not to, but I used a video camera and recorded an episode. I've since recorded eleven episodes, even upgrading to an audio recorder.

It's easy to make excuses to prevent exposing my work to the world.  I didn't hone my podcasting skills before I released it, but I'm dedicating myself to the project and honing my skills with each episode.

I can't tell you the path to success, but I can help you position yourself for success. The keys are dedication and passion.

My plan for success with this podcast is to stick around longer than anyone else. Many podcasts quit after a few episodes. Even fewer reach five, and fewer still twenty. At eleven, I know I want to continue, and I've already outlasted a large percentage of would-be podcasters.

It's similar to writing a book. Many people want to, some even start, but few have the dedication to finish. I've written a lot of short stories over the years, and even two novels. No one had ever seen them because I wasn't willing to open myself to criticism. This podcast endeavor has made me brazen. On the podcast, I read one of my short stories. For the first time I released one into the wild.

Is there something you like doing or want to do? Then commit to it. Commit to keep doing it and making it the best you can. Put it out there and let people see it. Even if you think people are going to hate it, put it out there. There might be just one person that loves it.

Spend fifteen minutes on your passion project, even when it's 
late, you're tired, and you think it's terrible. Keep going.

The barriers we create to stop us from pursuing a dream are often by our own design. I can't write a book. It won't get published. Publishing has nothing to do with writing the book. I want to be an actor, but  I can't move to Hollywood. Find a local theater, create short films for Youtube. Spend fifteen minutes on your passion project, even when it's late, you're tired, and you think it's terrible. Keep going. If you can not do that, you should drop it and determine your real passion. Dedication pays off. You will learn skills, meet people, and just maybe, succeed.
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