“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” – Buddha
Before I get to today’s subject “The Big Break” I want us to reflect on what the big guy is saying.
I might not completely agree but I know what he’s saying. This moment is all we’ve got for sure. We’ve got to make the most of it.
What happens if we take that sentence too literary? Well, we might miss the opportunity to learn from our past mistakes and make plans for the future. The reason we enjoy the luxuries of everyday life is that people actually did dwell in the past and did dream about the future.
That being said the key lies in how we utilize that moment. Be purposeful.
On to today’s subject!
Even though there are some great examples to learn from I’d like to focus on just one today. The guy I have in mind is none other than Jim Carrey!
Now, he’s not everybody’s cup of demitasse but since his work is widely known and there’s a lot documented let’s just stick with it, OK?
A lot of people, myself included, just saw Jim as an overnight sensation in the early 90’s. Sure, he’d been on a couple of shows and made a few movies but we hadn’t really seen the whole process. I was taken aback when I saw that he’d actually been at it for more than 10 years before his “big break” finally came.
I didn’t know that he’d made an appearance on “The Tonight Show” way back in ’83. Well, it’s not that strange. If you look check the clip at the bottom you’ll understand why even Johnny Carson didn’t remember the guy when he returned to the show 8 years later.
Just looking at that clip from ’83 you couldn’t have imagined that he’d do much of anything let alone go global in the 90’s!
What one kind of could tell is that the guy is committed (in the all senses of the word) to his craft. He can tell that it’s not going over all that great but he finishes it without showing any hesitance.
Also, Jim had already been hard at work even before that. I’d like to know how he went on from there?
Imagine, being a comedian in that era and getting what could be your “big break” on “The Tonight Show” and bombing? I mean, where do you go? What do you say to yourself? “Wow, they really didn’t go for it!”, “Man, I blew it!”, “Well, might as well give up!” or “Guess I’ll have to get better at this and hope for another shot at it!”?
I’m guessing Jim went with the last one. That’s what we’ve all got to do if we really want to do something.
It’s easy to confuse what you do with yourself as a person. If we tie our craft to our sense of self we’re in for a bad time. When our art, product, music, idea, act etc gets rejected it’s like we as a person are being rejected. Nobody’s really going: “Your idea is shit which means that you are a piece of human garbage. Now, get lost and die!”. Even if they do: Fuck ’em.
Take whatever lessons you can learn from them and move on. If it turns out not to be your big break then it’s fine. Look for the next opportunity, and the next, and the next. You might be surprised at what actually turns out to be your “big break”. Sometimes it’s the stuff that you didn’t really imagine would be.
We expect things to take off when we get a shot at something really big or start a new project that feels like something really special.
What actually ends up happening is a long series of false starts. But if we keep showing up and keep going on we just might make it there.
We all gotta start somewhere!
Jim Carrey – Before He Was Famous
Jim Carrey on The Tonight Show in 1983
Jim Carrey on “The Tonight Show” in 1991
Jim Carrey on “Oprah” in 1997