How to Get All Successful or Whatever
Okay, so a couple of situations have already come up this weekend that got my skin itching. …well, 3 things if you count the sunburn only on the FRONT of my legs…but anyway, not that I can speak from MASSIVE, COKE-RIDDLED CELEBRITY or anything, but I have a few things to say about success. I do think I’ve fought some little, preliminary battles in my career already: dodged getting fired TWICE, once by quitting and the other by sheer weirdness of another opportunity to get “fired” into, worked for some awful people, worked in big companies, small companies, with a partner, for myself, with and without benefits, with and without my own creative vision, with and without other opportunities to consider, with and without wanting to run to the hills to become a hippie and live off the land and screw all you capitalist pigs, etc.
I know that success in these things is less about your skill set and accreditation than your awareness of the reality of those around you and how you fit in.
First thing: You are the only one responsible for your success.
This sounds so cliche and is about to sound really dark and cynical but I really and truly don’t mean it that way. Hear this though, no one else gives a crap. The second you embrace this as a universal fact and not a personal attack because of your unworthiness or the hate of the world or something is the second you are free. When push comes to shove, we all get selfish when our own needs reach a certain fever pitch and they tend to eclipse that of others. Now, while I’m stating this as a sort of universal reality, I’m not in any way saying that Ye Who Are Now Enlightened should aim to behave this way. Like micro and macroeconomics, the way things are and the way we should strive to be are just different because they are from two different perspectives. In every situation that you get into, love, respect and collaborate with those around you, sacrificially even, but remember the threshold of yourself. Be wise as serpents but innocent as doves. Know your enemy, love your neighbor, even if they are one in the same.
Second thing: no one else’s story is your story.
Just today watching a documentary on Bill Hicks I realized how familiar I was with “the story” of how famous people get to be so. It all starts with some kind of sacrificial love for their art at the beginning, lots of hard work & bold choices, then some crazy season of running wild, then hitting rock bottom and then either 1) dying or 2) undergoing reinvention. There’s a psychological satisfaction that comes with knowing how “the story” works, like in some abridged way we lived it vicariously and our own need to fight for OUR success is that much more diminished. It’s like spiritual heroin, a chemical satisfaction for a deep-seated, metaphysical need–and like with junkies, this can be cripplingly effective.
This is a conversation I’ve had with my current…er, boss, though we’ve all agreed that’s a weird title for him…but he says that a huge part of why St. Louis is where talent goes to die is because there are a bunch of talkers, here. We can talk all day LONG about our screenplay, our standup, our startup, our band, whatever, but then something strange happens. For most people just talking about it brings enough satisfaction that they are never then compelled enough to get out there and bring it to life. It happens subtly. Great thinkers tend to get really excited about their ideas and want to share them but there is a much wider divide between thinkers and doers than we initially know.
Remember: the chick must fight his way out of the egg himself or he will not have the muscle structure he needs to survive in the world. He cannot simply think about it and hope someone will come along to help break him out because even if he is “fortunate” enough for that to happen, after emerging, he will die.
We live in 2011 where it is no longer up to a company, a boss, a parent, a record label or a production company for us to get our big break. We are both freer and more impaired than ever because our success is all up to us. That is both liberating and terrifying because there can be no one else to blame when you look back on time wasted. It’s not that the scout or the producer or the director didn’t find all of your raw talent in time. It’s that you wussed out, turned a blind eye, pacified yourself with words and then didn’t seize the opportunity to be your own catalyst.
So go own yourself and tell your own story. Don’t be a fatalist about the way things SHOULD go down or let yourself be spiritually pacified by the stories of others. Every day is your own egg that only your will can lead you to break through.