Over the last few years, I’ve watched many of my friends and associates reach a pinnacle of success in their respective fields. At first, I unsuccessfully fought off feelings of jealously. I really wanted to be happy for them, but in many cases it took a conscious effort. So, I decided to use reasoning and logic to dissect their accomplishments, look for correlations, and hopefully replicate it.
To determine why people I knew were gaining success, my research quickly found a few non-corollaries. First, intelligence was not a factor – some of them were geniuses, most displayed “normal” brainpower, and some barely that. Second, money did not seem to ensure success – their socio-economic backgrounds and personal resources varied. Finally, their level of education was not relevant – some had graduate degrees, others had two- or four-year college degrees.
With no relationship amongst basic demographic features, I moved into habits. How do they spend their work day? What about free time? This is when I struck gold. The one factor they each possess is their ability, willingness, and fortitude to work hard for their endeavors. Actor and comedian Colin Quinn recently discussed this on the Fitzdog Radio podcast where he discussed working on this summer’s critically acclaimed film Trainwreck with its writer/star Amy Schumer.
You shoot the movie all day, get up at 6am and go to the set. Wrap up at 6 or 7pm. [Amy] goes, ‘Hey, we’re going to do some scenes today. Want to run some scenes for tomorrow? We’re going to go to my acting class.’ Then we go to the acting class. Then after the acting class she says, ‘I’m going to meet Jud [Apatow]. He’s going to do stand up.’ He directed all day and now he’s going to do a set at the [Comedy] Cellar. Now she does a set.
So she wrote the movie while she’s doing her television show and stand up. She wrote the movie during that time. Now she’s doing the movie all day, going to acting class, running through scenes for the next day for like an hour and a half, then going to the Cellar and doing a spot.
Amy’s success exemplifies the importance of putting in your time. She is already one of our foremost comedians with her hit show and sold out stand up shows; yet, she continues to run her acting studio and write movies and television. Plus, if this wasn’t enough, Amy is constantly practicing and honing her skill set. Feel like a slacker?
When I look back at the friends and associates who have surpassed me, my jealousy was not because they had something that I didn’t. I was jealous because they had the willpower to sacrifice their daily allotment of couch time. I was jealous because they had time management skills that generated more hours of productivity. And I was jealous because they were working towards a clearly-defined focal point. To paraphrase, I was jealous because they were going for it while I was hoping for it.
Instead of wasting your energy on jealousy, use it to get what you want. Is success worth missing some of your precious TV? Or more time in the office? Or avoiding some immediate gratification? Or keeping yourself organized all day, every day (versus right before you are leaving for the weekend)? That’s for you to decide…but don’t take too long; you’re likely to miss another opportunity.