I Owe 20 Years Of Career Success To This One-Sentence Belief
*An idea from the For The Interested newsletter.
I’d never met him, but I used to be him.
He was fresh out of college, had just moved to Los Angeles to chase entertainment industry dreams, and had no idea what to do next.
He was where I had been 20 years ago.
A family friend suggested we meet and hoped I could point him in the right direction because somehow things had worked out for me.
I wasn’t sure what advice to give him, so I just told the story of how my career has evolved.
I explained how I landed and lost jobs, how my interests morphed, how side projects turned into opportunities, and how I wound up with a career in a field that didn’t even exist when I first arrived in Hollywood.
As I finished my story, I looked for a way to sum it up and give him some sort of big takeaway.
And these words came out of my mouth:
“You need to do things. Not enough people do things.”
I’ve done a lot of things over the years — some worked, some failed — but I don’t think I ever thought about that simple sentence as the key to my success until that moment.
The advice resonated with him — he left our conversation with more optimism and enthusiasm than he had going into it.
A day later, I was still thinking about my advice.
What does it mean to “do things?” Curious, I looked up the definition of “do” and found this:
- Perform (an action, the precise nature of which is often unspecified).
- Achieve or complete, in particular.
Then it hit me — that second part of the definition is what matters most.
People talk about what they “do” all the time — but they talk a lot less about what they actually accomplish.
Being busy is not the same thing as doing things. Remember, to “do” something, is to complete or achieve something.
A lot fewer people live up to that definition. But the ones that do, are the ones that succeed.
Think about it in the context of your day. What did you actually DO today? What did you achieve? What did you complete?
To do something is to change something (or someone). It’s to learn something. To generate a result.
If that doesn’t happen, then we didn’t do anything —we just fooled ourselves into thinking we did.
When I think back now on my advice to him, I realize I actually meant he should complete things. He shouldn’t be afraid to try things, and he shouldn’t be quick to abandon them.
Because if we do that, it will lead us to success.
At least that’s how it’s worked for me for the past two decades.