Monday, September 17, 2007

Never Give Up


After Fred Astaire's first screen test, the memo from the testing director of MGM, dated 1933, read, "Can't act. Can't sing. Slightly bald. Can dance a little." He kept that memo over the fire place in his Beverly Hills home. Astaire once observed that "when you're experimenting, you have to try so many things before you choose what you want, that you may go days getting nothing but exhaustion." And here is the reward for perseverance: "The higher up you go, the more mistakes you are allowed. Right at the top, if you make enough of them, it's considered to be your style."

Some days it feels as though nothing is easy. It feels as though you have to fight with a million more talented, richer, more attractive, more graceful people for a little bit of recognition. Some days it feels like nothing matters. Even if you can eke out a little slice of the proverbial pie, it couldn't possible EVER be worth the amount of work you put into it. Nobody cares, nobody notices the work you do, so you might as well do the bare minimum, right?

I think some people actually live by that philosophy, but not the really memorable people. Great thinkers, great athletes, memorable performers, and other mentionables perhaps aren't really that different than 85-90% of the population except for in one thing. They never gave up, even when they were told repeatedly to.

Sometimes it takes a million tries to get something right. Sometimes you have to write a million posts before someone reads your blog.

I can't dance, and I'll probably never be Fred Astaire, but I can learn efficacy, and I can remind myself to keep going, even when my confidence is at its lowest. Because it's never worth doing only the bare minimum, even in a world where nobody else will notice the difference.

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