Monday, July 16, 2012

That One Thing



I watched a video the other day, (yeah, like that doesn’t happen every day!). This particular video was an interview with Warren Littlefield, the NBC exec who greenlighted Seinfeld.

He talked about how cool it was to give the go ahead for a show that had no precedent, with a star who was barely out of his comedy short pants. How thrilling it was, so glad he said yes, yadda, yadda, yadda.

At the end of the piece, where the gushing interviewer undoubtedly asked him about the secret to success, Mr. Littlefield gave a very pat answer. He said that the secret of success was to caffeinate, (because you’re going to have to keep going) and, and this was the part that made me take notice, he said to “pick one thing.” Pick one thing, focus on it, and make it happen. Find your strength, that thing you really like to do, and do that. And keep doing it until someone is willing to pay you a ridiculous amount of money to do it, I guess was the point.

Well, that got my attention! It wasn’t the fact that it was the most over-used piece of advice in the history of advice-giving. It wasn’t even the fact that he couldn’t have been safer if he had told me to look inside myself and go with my heart. No, what made me take notice was the fact that I don’t want to do just one thing.

I started reflecting on how many “secret to success” books, articles, videos, etc. I have absorbed. Let’s just go with “a lot”. They all say the same thing… pick one thing and do the crap out of it. I never do this, hence, I have not achieved what they describe as success.

To do one thing, day after day after day and get rich doing it would KILL ME… no matter how much I was making. Even if it was something that I loved doing, like writing, I don’t think I could do it exclusively day in and day out. I would be homicidal, (Note: not suicidal. Homicidal).

I want to paint and draw and act and write plays and novels and snarky magazine pieces and build shit that barely works and videotape other people doing the cool stuff that they like to do, and then edit it, add music to it, create graphics for it and then paint some more. Then read to my kids, have them read to me, go shopping with my wife and roll my eyes when she asks me if I like something. Cook a steak, plant some flowers and then cut them and put them in a vase and take pictures of them and use all of the settings on my camera. Play with puppets and make them say really stupid things until my kids laugh and squirt milk out of their noses, which makes me laugh and squirt milk out of my nose.

If you are the type who can focus and do one thing, more power to you. I wish you success and big piles of money. I cheer your success, but, I don’t envy you. Perhaps it is a lack of discipline on my part. Maybe I should want to strive to make more, be more, acquire more.

Maybe I’ll never have the big yacht or the Lamborgini, but I’m ok with that. I’m too busy living anyway.