Some high school students recently asked if they could interview me. Of course, I obliged because I always have something to say!
A couple of their questions were about the topic of success. How I define it and how do I become and stay successful. Now, they were referring to a specific film crew position, but as I thought about my responses, I realized that my answers really were much more broad.
I woke up this morning thinking about all of this and figured since it’s blog day—I’m going to share my thoughts. This list is just a start, there are lots of other things, but these are at the top of my list about the topic of success.
Success is a subjective term. To me it isn’t what “other” people determine to be success, it’s what I determine it to be for ME. Although, I can learn from other people’s definitions and suggestions for success, it still comes back to what I choose it to be.
Personally, I don’t need to have a million dollars to feel successful—although, those funds would be nice! And, I might acquire a million dollars and feel like a failure—sad. We all make assumptions about other people (which is another blog for another day), and we might even decide for ourselves if someone else is “successful” or not. But, unless we know what their personal definition of success is, we just don’t know the truth.
My personal aspirations may be different than others. I am perfectly okay with that. That means I get to decide for myself if I’m being successful or not, according to my own definition and assessment.
Pay your dues. When working towards a goal or objective, everybody needs to pay dues—that’s how they learn what to do and what NOT to do. This means hard work, making mistakes, and paying attention to what is effective and what doesn’t work. There is nothing that replaces hands-on, intense work—a lot of it.
Keep learning. Never forget that there are always new things to learn. You never know it all, so don’t think or act like you do. I’m not saying you should not be confident in what you know, just remain open to the possibility that there might be another choice in how to do something.
Be disciplined with your time. Life can be demanding, so you have to set priorities. Carving out even just an hour a day to work on something you aspire to accomplish can make such a huge difference down the road. I have never been much of a television watcher. True, I’ve seen some shows here and there, but honestly, I don’t know much about what’s on and what’s popular.
Okay, I do have to be honest with you, there wasone TV show that I did watch faithfully and that was FRINGE. Loved everything about that show (I digress!). However, since I didn’t own a television, I watched it online when it was convenient for me.
After doing a little research on American television watching, I found that the typical television viewer spends an average of five hours a day watching the tube (for you youngsters, that’s an old slang word for the television). The statistics also stated that over the average person’s life, they will have spent NINE years watching television! Wow…what could be accomplished in nine years?
Long before I was out of corporate America, I was writing my first feature length screenplay. It required hours on weekends and in the evenings after work and family time. It took me a few years, but remaining disciplined with that time helped me not only realize how much I loved storytelling, but eventually led me into independent filmmaking.
I’m certainly not suggesting that everyone should just toss their TV out the window, but instead take note of how many hours are spent in front of those miracle devices. Those are hours NOT spent on pursuing a goal. It takes sacrifice. But, everyone must decide for themselves what is worth sacrificing. You need to determine how to spend your time and if you feel that time is well spent.
Remaining focused on what you are trying to accomplish is critical. Sometimes, we get pulled off track, away from our original plan. These are times to reconsider objectives and make a determination to continue to move forward, alter the pathway, or change the goal. Any of those things are perfectly fine, you make the decision. Sometimes an interruption to a carefully executed plan, can end up being the best thing to happen. So, take advantage of an opportunity if it presents itself.
I’ve written about FINISHING and following through in a previous blog. This means DO what you say you are going to do and keep your promises. This is important in your interactions with others, as they are counting on you. If you expect other people to be dedicated to you or your project, you must provide them with the same. It still amazes me how many people fall down in this area. Unfortunately, it makes you think twice before working with non-communicative and non-finishers again.
Be respectful of other people’s talent and passion. Don’t be egocentric. With many projects (especially film projects), you can’t do everything yourself, it takes a team. Openly recognize this by appreciating the time and dedication people give to you and your projects. This helps you build a useful professional network of individuals and leads to some wonderful, warm friendships.
S-t-r-e-t-c-h yourself. Purposely put yourself in situations that make you feel uncomfortable. If I never do things that make those butterflies fly, create overwhelming moments, and cause sleepless nights, I never will do any of the things I set out to accomplish. Of course, no one wants to experience this every day, but periodically, it is very effective.
I always liken it to a rubberband. You have to stretch it in order to use it. And, if the rubberband sits in a drawer unused for a period of time, it dries out and breaks when you try to use it the next time. So, intentionally stretch yourself.
These are just a few of my thoughts. I would love to hear from others what they think about the topic of success! Feel free to share your own.
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