The Hard Bit.
My career path has been stratospheric. At the tender age of ten, I was spotted by a talent scout. At eleven, I had a recording contract with EMI. At thirteen, I had three gold discs, four BAFTAS and a Golden Globe. At fifteen, I launched two global fashion labels and wrote a bestseller, now a major feature film and translated into forty-eight and a half languages. I’m a regular guest on NBC, the BBC and Channel Plus, up for a knighthood and tipped for a Legion d’ Honneur. Just like that.
Not really. I am but a humble copywriter, though I did get a BAFTA aged forty-five. But that’s irrelevant. Here’s why I wrote the paragraph. Look at a plethora of posts, and you’d believe that everyone else on Earth has rocketed to immortal stardom. Even advertising people. The worldwide senior global somethings.
Don’t mistake me. I’m not driven by envy and I love success stories. I love the way Richard Branson drove a rusty old van full of old vinyl LPs and went bust a few times along the way. I love how Bob Geldof worked in a pea canning factory. And started a strike, and rotted a few tons of peas. I love how the writer of “Alien” slept on his cohort’s sofa for a year. I love how a creative director I know lived under his desk for two years, sustained by stale boardroom sandwiches, lemonade and a kindly cleaner.
What I hate is seeing success stories that forget to mention two things. Hardship and hard work.
Most populist meteoric career stories never talk about the months sealed in bedrooms with a notepad and an imagination for company. The weeks of practice. The letters saying no from the yes men. The unwashed bedclothes. The missed meals, the no meals at all and the even less cash. The bins full of reject lyrics. The cynical parents wanting an accountant or an actuary.
It’s not a new phenomenon. Contrary to the film “Amadeus”, young Mozart didn’t spend his time getting hammered and bedding women. Most nights, he probably never went to bed. He was at the keyboard.
Not to mention the first-time failures. It’s a fact. Most of the world’s most glittering entrepreneurs have first gone down the tubes. Not just once.
Right, here’s a thing. Instant-rise-to-fame stories make millions believe they haven’t got it in them. Gossip-mag make-believe roads to success only discourage others from taking real ones.
If more stories told the bitter truth, more would try.
More would try, fail, try again and win.
More would know they can.
More would encourage.
Here’s to the grim and bitter truth. May it unlock the untapped talents of millions. Here’s to every one of them.