Monday, December 18, 2017

It's About Being In The Right Place At The Right Time

So, call me a Grinch. Call me a Humbug. Call me a Scrooge. I get that during the holiday season, we need a whole lot of happiness, but I do want to highlight something that has really hit me in the last month.

We have all been trained to think that hard work and dedication will get you everything you need. This comes from generations before us. We hear stories of our relatives digging their way through the muck and the grime to get where they are to today. But there is a bit of a twist here that I think we need to consider, especially authors.

To truly be that huge success requires not just the hard work and dedication. It requires a combination of several things and one of those pieces really is not something you as an author has control over. It is the piece of being in the right place at the right time.

I had on a PBS episode a couple of days ago about David Foster. I had seen this one before, but hey, if it is good music, watching it over again is always fun. But, it was during that show that I was really listening to the people he "discovered." Each person he spoke of had raw talent, but their success did not come from them controlling their future. It came from them being in the right place at the right time.

Celine Dion happened to be singing in a small show somewhere in Canada. David Foster "happened" to be there and "happened" to hear one of her songs.  -  Her Career Was Born.

Michael Buble happened to be singing in a small dive of a night club. David Foster "happened" to decide to go in for a quick drink and "happened" to hear him sing.  - His Career Was Born.

And then, yesterday, I was watching CBS Sunday Morning and they were doing a show about Michael McDonald. He too had the same set of coincidences. He was playing in a small little club and Chuck Berry happened to come in during a tour. As Berry was talking to his fellow band about the need for a keyboardist, they happened to hear McDonald.  - His Career Was Born.

I should go on to say that all of his other earlier successes came the same way. He was playing somewhere and... Bam, the Doobie Brothers signed him. Later,... BAM Kenny Loggins heard him in a random location.

I think it is important to really listen to these huge success stories. We tend to gloss over the fact that for so many of these people, it was not so much about the talent, (I will talk about that in just a second), it was about FATE. It was about being in the right place at the right time.

But where does the skill and the hard work come in? These are the skills needed to get into that completely random right place, as well as to maintain the success.

First of all, I am a firm believer that you have to have some internal talent to truly be successful in the things you do. I do not believe it is all about the hard work element. I remember talking to a colleague one year whose son was in my class. He was all upset that his son was only earning B's. He wanted to get him to an A. I told him that he can certainly work harder, but in the end, his son happened to be a great solid B student. Dad was not happy. So I spun it this way. The dad happened to a be a P.E. teacher so I asked him to train me to be a NBA Basketball star. I wanted to be as good as Michael Jordan. I would come in every morning, work on drills and we could do it. The point hit him right there. Michael Jordan already had a talent.

The same goes for writing. We can all write (just like I can play basketball), but for some, the ability to be truly great comes from something already there.

Being a writer is open to everyone out there. Being published requires having a bit more skill, and some of that is going to come from having that internal talent. Being truly successful however, requires being in that right place at the right time.

So, it that all it takes? No. You can be in the right place at the right time, but unless you have the skill to attract the attention of that needed person to advance your career, AND the skill to constantly improve and grow, then you have a chance.

We all like to believe that hard work and dedication will make you that huge success. But, if you really look around, it is often that issue of FATE that separates those who really make it and those who are just moderately successful.

I do want to end on one small note. Success is not an issue of making 7 figure deals with your books. Success is defined as much more. But, the point of this is to remember that you may never see that bigger success just based on circumstances or even the fact that your career might have a ceiling on what is possible.

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