When you’re high up in the air most people will tell you to not look down. Most people reserve that great advice for those of us who are afraid of heights, but really that’s advice that everyone should heed. The reason it’s usually a pretty good idea not to look down is because if you look down you’ll realize just how high up you are and you’ll probably get scared at how far you could fall. Why you get more frightened when you’re five thousand feet above sea level than you do when you’re three or four stories up is beyond me. You could die just as easily by falling out of a third story building as you could from falling from five thousand feet. My best guess is that the long way down is a worse demise because you have to think about it far longer than you would have to think about it falling from a third story building. But why do we think about death at all in these situations? The answer is relatively simple: we all think of death at one time or another, the things that scare us are different and thus the things that set us off are different, but we always face a relatively good chance of death at any given moment. Now, I’m not trying to be overly pessimistic or anything, but I am trying to point out just how difficult simply surviving life can be and advancing in your career is no different. Simply surviving is an incredible, gargantuan task.
One of the most important things that I’ve learned is that the greatest impediment to success is oneself. Realizing that you control your fate more than anyone or anything else is one of the most important things you can understand if you’re going to be successful. At the same time, knowing yourself and knowing what your biggest faults are and what the biggest things that will stand between you and achieving success is equally important. The one thing that distinguishes nearly every successful person from every non-successful person is clear, coherent goals. If you can’t explain your goals to someone else then you probably don’t understand them yourself. If you don’t understand your goals, how on Earth are you going to achieve them? One of the biggest problems we face as humans is making things more complicated or more difficult than they need to be. I know this because this is something that I do perhaps more than anything else. I’m a thinker, I always have been, but just because I’m thinking all the time doesn’t mean I’m always being constructive. I know that I spend too much time thinking, so I’ve learned that there are times when I just need to let my mind go free otherwise I will remain a prisoner in it when I need it to be functioning properly. Success in life is often accompanied by balance because too much or too little of anything rarely leads to prolonged success.
Many of the things that I did early in life, I did because they were easy compromises. I was able to graduate high school with the lowest graduating attendance rate in history. I didn’t set out to achieve that goal. I just showed up for tests and quizzes, wrote decent papers for my English and History classes and just cruised by in math and science. I took what I was given and didn’t ask for anything else. After high school I got an Associate’s degree because it was a heck of a lot easier than getting a Bachelor’s degree. But, when I look at things now, it would have been easier on myself if I had just shut up and gone with things instead of always taking the compromise position and looking for the easy way out. I think it’s only natural for us to look for the easy way out, but no one achieves anything worth doing by using this method. I’m beginning to learn this now as I pursue my Bachelor’s degree and look to get into education. How ironic that someone who wanted to spend as little time as possible in school now wants to teach there, right? It’s not as strange as you might think.
I had to work extra hard at the subjects that I was good at to get by in high school in order to have grades good enough to pick myself up after doing terribly in everything else. I actually learned more in some areas by learning less in others. What I was doing was prioritizing what I was learning. I was doing it perhaps a bit subconsciously, but I was doing it none the less. Now I find myself having to make up all that ground in the areas where I sacrificed a lot in high school and it’s not easy, but it can be done. Last semester I aced my science classes and I’m going into my post-Algebra classes this fall with the attitude that I’ll get through it just fine. But something has changed here and I didn’t notice it until I actually looked at my grades for the spring semester. You see, I expected to get A’s in my science classes, which is something that I never would have expected in high school. How much has my confidence changed my performance? A great deal. I approached each of my classes with the same attitude and wound up performing ideally in all of them. Confidence was part of it, but so was my work ethic, which has also changed since high school. Some people are of the opinion that things change as we get older and we become different people. Some have even suggested that we learn different as we get older. I do learn differently, but what I’ve noticed is that as I age I’m adapting to learning more by studying more and being better prepared than ever before. I know how to do this because I did it in other areas in high school, now I just apply the principle across the board.
I owe many of my achievements to pure confidence, but I also owe quite a bit to my ridiculous resolve to do what I really want to do and achieve the things that I feel like I need to achieve. I use my screenwriting career as an example here. It’s incredibly difficult to get work in Hollywood, yet I’ve always found ways to get my stuff out there and to get noticed when I need to. Now as I start marketing a new show and start looking at different studios to produce it my attitude is that I’m looking for the right fit for me and the right fit for my product. One thing that I’ve found is that many screenwriters just hope that their work will sell itself and that they’ll be able to get by if someone just miraculously notices them out of nowhere. There are very few instances where such an attitude actually works out. I’ve never had anyone come up to me and say: “so, do you write movies or anything?” That would be crazy, plus I don’t live in Hollywood so why would anyone ask me that? I talk about my writing and I usually plug whatever projects I’m working on, but very rarely do I find myself in a situation where someone that I’m talking to can actually help me get my product out there. That doesn’t mean that they can’t, it just means that they aren’t these ultra-altruistic beings bent on helping everyone else but themselves. Proceeding through life thinking that the only reason other people exist is to help you is a really boorish way to look at things.
Something that has always helped me has been the belief that I deserve what I want and that I am capable of getting to where I want to go on my own with little or no help from anyone else. The fewer people I have to depend on the better off I’m going to feel because having to depend on other people sucks, they rarely come through. Being dependent on yourself and yourself alone is one of the easiest ways to become successful. Will you eventually have to depend on someone else? Of course you will, but the more you can do by yourself the better off you’ll be. Stories don’t write themselves and though it is nice to have people to bounce ideas off of, it’s also very difficult to write when you’re having a conversation with someone else. You need to find a way to balance everything out. I know people who can’t work while listening to music. I also know a lot of people that can only work when listening to music. I know other people who can work while listening to a certain type of music, but not other types of music. This is an example of understanding what works for you and going with it. I used to never be able to write if there was background noise, but now because I can focus on what I’m doing I can write during the middle of a thunderstorm if I have to. It’s all a matter of focus and balance.
The one subject I have avoided thus far is the encouragement of others like friends, family and fans. I write this blog because it’s therapeutic for me to get my thoughts out there, but also because I enjoy writing and I enjoy hearing what other people have to think. I love being able to share my opinions in an open, inclusive environment where I can freely discuss ideas and talk about different issues in a fair and honest way. I think it’s incredibly important to note that I would not have been able to achieve anything in life were it not for the support of my friends, family and fans out there. You are the reason I keep going. It’s extremely gratifying to know that there are people who enjoy reading what I write just as much as I enjoy writing it and there is nothing more fulfilling than talking to my fans each and every day. I haven’t achieved everything I’ve wanted to achieve in life, but I’ve achieved enough where I feel as if I’ve been extremely successful personally. That being said, I have a series to write and produce, a movie to make, a career in education to think about and many, many issues of both a personal, educational, and political nature to write about. Writing is my gift from God and the most fulfilling part of my day is sharing my gift with you. Thank you for reading and I look forward to our discussions in the future.