“Forget mistakes, forget failures, forget everything, except what you’re going to do now and do it. Today is your lucky day.” ~Will Durant
The biggest roadblock to our own success is us. We doubt ourselves. We spend time and energy reviewing when we didn’t do something right or when something didn’t work out the way we wanted. We beat ourselves up. We take ourselves out of the running before we’ve even entered the race.
Here’s the tough love advice I give myself, and I mean it in the best possible way: get over yourself. Literally. You get out there right now, into the world that needs every ounce of your magic and talent, and get to work. The only thing that matters is what you do now.
You don’t need any more permission, advice, training, or ideas. You don’t need to spend any more time or money figuring things out. Just go for it, whatever it is, with everything you’ve got and you’ve got a lot. You’ve got you, and that’s all you need.
The planning process of any aspect of life can be frustrating. Preparation can sometimes feel like just something we have to do before we get on with our real work. It’s not. It is the work. When my patience with preparation is wearing thin, I think about playing pool. When you play pool, you keep your eyes focused on where you want the ball to go, not where it is. He or she has to line everything up correctly. The slightest adjustment can make a huge difference. The same is true in life.
Right now, you may be making small steps and lining up your circumstances for that moment when you are ready to strike. All this planning may cause you to feel a lack of progress because you don’t actually see anything happening. It might seem so slow that you want to give up. But like the pool player, you need to give yourself the best chance at making the best shot with the landscape you have. That takes planning and patience. Rest assured that all this planning, all these small adjustments will pay off. Play the long game.
When I lived in New York City, I loved the vibrant food scene there. Growing up in a rural area of farm country and later working for an environmental nonprofit, I’ve always felt really connected to the dirt despite living in cities for more than half my life. I didn’t know if I’d find anything like that food scene when I moved to Florida but yesterday (ironically) The New York Times shined a light on what is growing here as it picked Orlando as one of its top travel destinations for 2015. Why? Because of the local food scene driven by places like East End Market and Cask & Larder.
While nowhere near the size of New York’s food scene, Orlando-based farmers and food artisans are building a locavore community with passion. I’m hoping to get more involved with that world now that I have the time and space to do that. I’ll let you know what I find. In the meantime, check out this article that highlights several food entrepreneurs that are making a delicious life here in the central part of the Sunshine State. (Scroll to number 15 on this list.)
In the hustle and bustle that’s December, take some time to give yourself a high-five for 2014. Even if it was a tough year, acknowledge that your strength helped you through it. What are you most proud of doing in 2014?
Here are my personal high-fives with infinite thanks to so many of you who made them possible and cheered me on in the process:
– I directed and produced my first original play that I’ve written, Sing After Storms
– I wrote the first draft of my first novel, Where the Light Enters
– I moved out of New York and started a new adventure in a new city
– I transitioned my business away from consulting to write full-time
– I saw Compass Yoga through to its completion and with the help of so many volunteers helped hundreds of people discover the joys of the practice
– I started working as a voice over artist
– I expanded the channels for my writing with great brands that I’m proud to be associated with
– I spent a lot of time with friends, old and new, and my family despite a hectic schedule
I’m making some big plans for 2015 and I know it’s going to be a wild ride. I’m not afraid. I’m excited for it, and I’m grateful to be on this journey with so many other good people. High-fives all around!
For the team that worked feverishly on-stage and behind-the-scenes at Sing After Storms, I will be forever grateful, forever standing on my feet and giving you a standing ovation of wild applause for your courage and commitment to create. Bravo! Bravo! Bravo!
We didn’t win the Thespis Theater Festival in the traditional sense.* We were one of 6 finalists nominated for best play out of 39 plays presented, and we didn’t walk away with any prize money. To me, we won in every sense that matters: getting down a painful, powerful, and thought-provoking story to free it in the hopes that it helps to free others.
Theater is hard, so damn hard. It’s more difficult to create than many other art forms because we must build it together. That togetherness must then be orchestrated and tuned with a light, but steady and confident hand. It’s about giving boundaries—the story lines, the confines of the physical space, time—and then just letting people play within those boundaries. It’s a heavy burden and a limitless gift. We put our story out there into the world for judgement and critique, and then allow others to change it, color it, and give it its own life separate and apart from the life the playwright infused into it.
It hurts to let a story go out into the world to fend for itself, and yet in that letting go it saves, serves, and heals. Perhaps that’s the greatest gift that this show has given me—the chance to be free and whole all at once, and the chance to find and sing my song.
*Comparing large-scale musicals to intimate relationship-based dramas, and films of staged shows to live performances, seems a bit odd to me. It also seems unfair to expect a show that was staged two and a half months ago to pull a cast and crew back together with 5 days notice over a holiday weekend to give a performance to be judged against shows that closed much more recently. However, I’m willing to put that aside now that I’ve written it down and expressed my opinion so I can feel nothing but pride for our team. Thanks for allowing me to digress for a moment.
Yesterday I was offered the largest consulting contract of my career. I turned it down because it’s not the work I want to do anymore. Was that the right choice? Definitely. Did it hurt to let it go? Absolutely. I was referred by a former client to organize the annual meeting of a private equity firm. I could have played that role and done the work with no problem, but I’m committed to writing full-time and that gig would take me away from my dream. This is the tough work of commitment, the work no one tells us about. Focus and commitment are not a one and done deal. They requirement constant vigilance; temptation to veer off-course is everywhere. The opportunities you don’t take will be scooped up by other people who want and need them. Do your work. Walk your road.
Life’s ups and downs are unpredictable and difficult to understand in the moment. We’ve got to learn from our hardships and create solutions so others don’t encounter the same obstacles. Many hands (and hearts and minds) lighten the load, and goodness knows the load of life is H-E-A-V-Y. Let’s carry it together. Boston, we are with you.
I thought Leonardo DiCaprio had some sort of magic Hollywood wand that makes everything he touches turn to gold. I was completely wrong. Even with his passion and commitment, it took Leo 7 years to get The Wolf of Wall Street made. Like Matthew McConaughey and Dallas Buyers Club (who incidentally is also in The Wolf of Wall Street), Leo refused to give up on the film and chipped away at Hollywood until he lined up the right partners and the right funding. In our own creative pursuits, we sometimes struggle to get something to go in the direction we want it to take. We grease the skids of our own imaginations over and over again without much movement. It’s often akin to getting a car parked on ice to move. Don’t let the hard work and slow progress deter you. Keep at it knowing you’re in good company. Eventually, the ice relents (or melts) and we’re on our way.
Lena Dunham, the creator and star of Girls, and Sheldon Cooper, the quirky and maddening character played by actor Jim Parsons on The Big Bang Theory, have something in common and something powerful to teach us: commitment and focus create the magic sauce of achievement. It’s hard to imagine two people who are less alike and yet they arrive at the same conclusion when it comes to their work. They bet the farm and won.
Lena Dunham was on David Letterman this week. She was so funny and authentic that I decided to learn more about her career. She built her rising star through a web series, Delusional Downtown Divas, and SXSW Film. In 2009, SXSW Film screened her first feature film, Creative Nonfiction. In 2010, the same festival screened her second feature film, Tiny Furniture. Dunham wrote, directed, and starred in both films. Tiny Furniture earned two Independent Spirit Award nominations and that caught the attention of Producer Judd Apatow. Girls is the result of their collaboration; she creates, stars, and sometimes directs it while he serves as the Executive Producer.
Sheldon Cooper said something profound in this week’s episode, appropriately titled “The Occupation Recalibration”. His neighbor and friend, Penny, decides to quit her job as a waitress at the Cheesecake Factory to focus on her acting career. After five years in LA, she does much more waitressing than acting and she decides to give her near-impossible dream all of her attention. Sheldon supports this decision with one simple statement: “The best way to achieve a goal is to devote 100% of your time and energy to it. When I decided I was going to be a physicist, I didn’t take some other job in case it didn’t work out…We’re dreamers.”
Who says there’s nothing good on television? People who don’t watch television. There’s plenty of inspiration to be found in the content squeezed in-between expensive commercials. Lena and Sheldon are just two examples and they serve as powerful role models for all of us: if we really want to achieve a dream, we must double-down on it. There’s no guarantee of success, though focus gives us our best possible chance to make it come true.
* Tonight, The Big Bang Theory and Girls are competing for the Best Television Series – Comedy or Musical Golden Globe. Lena and Jim are both nominated for Best Actress and Actor, respectively.