Passion v Success

Two thoughts that I heard others express have been rolling around in my head and heart over the last couple of days.  The first was something I heard Adam Carolla say.  He was talking about The Two Coreys, a reality show about a couple of child stars from the 80’s who are struggling to recapture the work they had when they were young, sometimes turning to drugs to overcome the despair of lost opportunities.

I’ll try to express Carolla’s thoughts as best as I can remember.  The appearance of the clips he played was that the drugs had ended the careers of one or both of these men and that if they could get off drugs they’d have a shot at returning to their earlier success.  Carolla didn’t think that was it.  He talked about the often expressed view of former child stars that they have been type cast based on past performances.  He didn’t think that was it.  Instead, it was a lack of talent that kept them from succeeding.

A child star often wins “the cosmic lottery” and is the right person for the time and place of their success.  But when that time and place is over it’s up to them whether they can maintain it.  Carolla talked about Johnny Depp and George Clooney, both successes early in life but neither stuck in a typecast because they both had great talent.

And, if you have great talent the other key is hard work.  He pointed to Jay Leno and Jimmy Kimmel who both created something that was uniquely theirs and worked really hard to get it.

But, if you don’t have great talent and you don’t work really hard at it, you may have one time success but it isn’t going to last and you shouldn’t expect it to.

My thought was what about the average guy who doesn’t win the cosmic lottery?  Does that mean he’ll never have success?  Does everyone have great talent at something?

The other comment that I heard was from Erwin MacManus at Mosaic.  He was doing a Q & A with people at the gathering as part of a series on wisdom.  One young lady asked about finding your passion, living a fully engaged life and success.  She asked, “What if you’re working really hard, for years, at what you love but things never go the way you thought they would?  Do you just keep going?”

Erwin explored the difference between passion and an end result we want.  He gave the example of a world class violinist.  Someone may have a passion to be a world class violinist but hates to practice.  They’re never going to reach their goal.  “The way you know you’re living out the right passion is that you love the discipline that brings greatness.  If you don’t love the discipline that brings greatness in that field you are pursuing the wrong passion.”

“What if you love the discipline?” the girl asked.

“If you love the discipline then even if you don’t get the ultimate end you will not have wasted your life because you will have fulfilled your passions.”

And I think that’s the answer for the average guy.  If you are an average guy who has a passion for acting then you will find opportunities to act whether or not you achieve fame, fortune or recognition.  Carolla is right.  It is talent and hard work that bring success (in a place where there is real opportunity anyway).  But MacManus is also right.  If you define success as external, the end dream, then it may be unrealistic and pursuit will bring despair.  But, if success to you means the act of pursuing your dream then trying is succeeding even if you are only average.


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