Thursday, February 04, 2016


What they never tell you, for any endeavor worth pursuing, is that you have to work so hard just to get to the start line.

You commence in an auditorium with a hundred people. All bright eyed and ambitious. Full of dreams and unvarnished will.

Then, the chosen industry luminary stands before you all. He or she takes a deep breath and says:

"Within ten years, most of you will have given up. Of the hundred of you in here now, 5, maybe 10 of you will make it. Good luck."

Then the speaker gives a big yawn, and walks off stage. Leaving you to your toil.

(NOTE FROM PETE: The above really happened, by the way. Not an allegory).

And it begins from here.

The journey to build something. To create. To earn a life where the work you do means something to you.

Years fly by. Some of your group of peers have success. Most don't.

People start to drop away. Into 'real' jobs. Into families and mortgages. One by one, like Autumn leaves. If you're smart, more than once you think about giving up. Only a fool doesn't weigh their options.

Until the group that began in that auditorium is now whittled down to the battle-hardened survivors. The 25 souls who were too driven or too stubborn to quit. Still treading the boards. Still pushing through the rejections.

But then, many years and sacrifices later, something happens. You ping. You're a blip on the radar. Your work resonates with an audience.

Suddenly, your labour has value.

Buoyed by this success, you inevitably start floating in different professional circles. Like never before, you have a yardstick to understand where you are in the ecosystem, and what opportunities you can pursue.

And it's then that you're actually at the bottom of the food chain.

The very bottom. You were plankton, but now you're only slightly higher than plankton.

THIS moment, is where most people give up.

It seems counter intuitive I know, but trust me, this is the time. Not when you're alone in the tundra, but when you are finally inside a warm cabin, with a blazing hearth. Realising, with a start, that the only food for you is the scraps that fell off the table at meal time.

You survived the tundra, yes, but now you have to earn your place by the fireside.

You're exhausted. You've fought so hard just to begin, that maintaining the effort seems impossible, maybe even folly.

Like a Film and TV Development Executive said to me recently: "It's tough out there as an independent, trying to get something made. Brutal. I don't know if I could do it."

So, if you're still with me at this point, if you've made it this far in your journey, I have three words for you:

Don't give up.

The road is long. The scars are real.

So is the reward, however. The exhilaration when you create something that bears your mark. The success when your output is something truly remarkable.

It's a race to the bottom, or a race to the top in life. You can do what's convenient, and be mediocre, or go after the thing that scares you.

You might even succeed.

Can you stay in the game long enough to give yourself a chance?

- - - - - - - - -