How to Become Successful: Add Value to The World
People often say these days, that you should “follow your dreams.” There is a philosophy that, whatever you love to do, whatever you’re really passionate about, you will do well. Those of us who live in reality do take a fairly realistic approach to life, I think, and try to find some balance between what we love to do and what we can do. If we love baseball, but we’re terrible baseball players, we tend not to follow our dreams of become a professional ball player. We might find an alternative. Maybe we love to draw so we become an architect and teach little league and join a church softball league or something.
But there is a third consideration that has, I think, been lost on contemporary society, and especially on students choosing what subject to study in college.
We understand that passion and ability are two considerations. The third is the value we add to society.
Often times people consider this in terms of what professions are “in demand.” A person who is out of a job or a student looking to choose a major in college, might look up the best paid in demand professions online, find the one they are the most passionate about or believe they have an appropriate skill set, and focus on that. This sounds very practical, but my advice, never consider how “in demand” a profession is.
Choosing jobs by what is “in demand” restricts the number of professions one makes available to one’s self. Furthermore, what is in demand today, may not be in demand tomorrow. And the most important criticism I have, because a profession is in demand, that does not necessarily mean that you will be in demand.
You have to find how you add value (or at least where you are perceived to add value).
I speak from experience. I love film. I studied film making in school. I love writing so it was natural that, after I earned my degree, I would go to Hollywood and try to succeed as a writer. Now I’m a good writer. But in Hollywood, that doesn’t matter. You could be the best writer in Hollywood, but unless you make the right connections, and the right people read your material, you will never succeed. You will stay impoverished forever.
This is the problem I faced when I moved here. I still face this problem. In Hollywood, most people see a person and make a snap judgment about where they fit in the system. If you are a super nice, meek person, people might assume you’re a writer or a grip if you’re big, or even an actor if you’re good looking, but if you say you’re an agent, they’ll probably laugh at you. I’m a pretty gregarious, decent looking fellow, so when I say I’m a writer few people take me seriously. A lot of people even say, “no, you’re an actor.” And they insist upon it. Eventually, a friend convinced me that I should act, or at least audition for a few things. His arguments made sense to me and I finally tried it. Everything changed. Instead of people dismissing me, people took notice. Most struggling actors are dismissed when they say they’re an actor. As soon as I mention it, for some reason, I am given more respect than I ever would have imagined. People see value there.
I have not been acting long, but it’s clear to me that this is where my value lies in Hollywood. My passion is still writing, but I am learning to love this new niche that I discovered. People meet me and genuinely talk about the huge success they expect from me as an actor. I am now fully invested in this new pursuit, not because it’s what I went to school for, or what I chose for a career path, but because it’s where people see value. I do have a passion for it, I am quite good at it, but most importantly, it’s where I have found that I am in demand. There is certainly no demand for actors in Hollywood in general. You could trip over actors turning any corner in Hollywood, but there is demand for me as an actor, for a variety of reasons. That’s great for me, and I love it. I still write, and I am currently writing two projects that I can act in so that I can add content to my acting reel, which I believe will help me get a good agent and better jobs as an actor, so the writing is still a part of my career, but it is taking a secondary place.
So, although this was not the direction I had anticipated, it is the direction society has demanded I go, and I am listening. I fought against acting for many years, and in those years I could have developed a healthy and substantial career as an actor, but because I was stubborn and resistant, my career is only starting to seem hopeful now.
The moral of this story is, try new things. If someone suggests you might be good at something, even if you think it’s a joke, go for it. Perhaps you will be in demand as an architect, a lawyer, a chef, a comedian, a dentist, a writer, an acrobat, a pilot, a rock climber, a singer or a teacher. You will never know until you try all of these things. Take a class, join a club, or just try things on your own. Get people’s initial reactions. Find the thing that moves people. Find where you add value to the world, and do that. If the world believes you add value, you cannot help but to succeed.