I have long been inspired by the following passage from W. H. Murray in The Scottish Himalaya Expedition: ”When I said that nothing had been done I erred in one important matter. We had definitely committed ourselves and were halfway out of our ruts. This may sound too simple, but is great in consequence. Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth — the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, the providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets: Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!‘
As it turns out, this is true. Once you make a decision to commit to something, “providence moves, too.” I am seeing it right now with the overwhelming response from friends and family to my own commitment to this project, including guidance and assistance coming from the most unexpected corners.
In 2005, a friend and I wrote a short film and decided to make it. You have to understand, neither of us had ever been involved in anything like this before – we had never produced anything, nor worked on anyone else’s indie productions, I had never directed a film. It was crazy, and there is no reason we should have succeeded, but we did. We actually never questioned that we would, and that’s probably why it happened. Maybe ignorance is bliss, but the idea of stumbling headlong into a goal, not knowing that you have no business achieving that goal, can move mountains in ways you couldn’t have imagined possible.
You can see our little film here. (password: makingthecut)
It’s okay, not great. I’m still exceedingly proud of it. Why? Because it’s on a screen. And that’s the other thing about success that we have to remember – it exists based on how we define it. After a decade working in Hollywood, I have decided that anything on a screen is a success – no matter who sees it or how “good” it turns out. Once you realize the mountain that has to be climbed to get any work to a screen – any screen (movie, TV, Internet, phone) – you can reward yourself for getting there. And that’s one of the major keys to happiness – rewarding yourself. It can be a small gift you’ve been wanting for a while, a Facebook post sharing your accomplishment with others, or simply taking a moment to stop making demands of yourself and enjoy what you’ve achieved. If you skip the reward, what was the success for?
Personally, I view success as the distance between where we start and where we end up, and as long as you’re beyond the point where you started, you won! And if you aren’t there yet, make a decision to do something about it. I promise, like Mr. Murray above, that a whole stream of events will issue from the decision, raising in your favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which you could not have dreamt would happen.
(and as to that Goethe quote at the end…it’s not really Goethe. It is a very, very loose translation. The actual passage from Faust that it refers to is so awesome and inspiring that it is going to be the subject of tomorrow’s post. See you then.)