Here's one of my favorite quotes from Thoreau: "If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours."
I think we can all agree as to what that means. Walk with purpose, walk with definition, walk confidently and there is nothing, no obstacle that will stand between you and your goal. Okay. Now that we've got that one figured out, props to us.
For me, while I loved that quote, I could never figure out how to advance confidently. And I'm not talking about the blowhards of the universe who know how to fake confidence and swagger around like testosterone-fuled peacocks. I'm talking about truly knowing how to depend on your abilities. Truly having faith in your reasoning. Knowing what makes you a happy person. Knowing how to cope when you are unhappy. Having faith, perhaps in a higher power to assure you when you're down. Knowing that you can truly make things happen and hit your goals.
For years the "advancing confidently" part tripped me up. I remember reading Conversations with God by Neale D. Walsch and that helped somewhat. First, it showed me that I wasn't insane and you, anyone, could hold a conversation with God. Second, he brought up an interesting point. Sort of a Dale Carnegie Power-of-Positive-Thinking point. Walsch stated that you had to imagine yourself successful first. No matter what, you had to envision yourself already having achieved your goal.
That tripped me up, too. How the heck can I imagine myself successful if doors keep getting slammed in my face? How can you feel positive when you feel like you have a giant L branded on your forehead? That unanswered question was just one more thing that eluded my grasp.
Then I met my friend and writing mentor, Ronald Jacobs. Ronnie was a producer/director/writer for such notable television shows like Dick Van Dyke, That Girl, The Andy Griffith Show, Mod Squad, I Spy -- he had a wonderful career. We were introduced by a mutual friend who used to watch me pity myself until she could no longer stand the sight of me. She still doesn't talk to me! But she introduced me to Ronnie and that changed a lot.
So, if we are going to take a class on "advancing confidently," this will be Point 1.
Point 1: Get a mentor in the business you are interested in.
First of all, that person will recognize your talent, even if you don't. And if you are not talented, then you need to hear that from someone you trust. Maybe you are following the wrong dream. There's no shame in that. It just means you're pursuing something that's not truly part of your heart. Maybe it's part of your ego, or someone else's dream for you. Better to realize it now and focus on something that really gets your heart beating. I guarantee you that all of us contain a glowing lamp inside. And you need to shine that special personal light, because in doing so, you may just light someone else's way through a bad time. Or maybe that light you carry will illuminate your own brighter path. But you can't shine if you are frustratingly following an erroneous path.
I believe I was on the right path because Ronnie gave me encouragement. He is quite possibly the most positive person I've ever met. And he gave me a word of warning: DONT HANG OUT WITH NEGATIVE PEOPLE.
Which of course, reminds me of another favorite poem of mine: Desiderata.
"Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexatious to the spirit."
I don't know if loud and aggressive people are necessarily negative people, but I'm going to toss them into the testosterone-fueled peacock cage while we're at it. How can you tell a negative person? Well, chances are when you have something to be happy about, they'll remind you of a hurricane that killed people. Honestly, I don't know how they do it, but they find a way to bring you down. And usually, it works. Mostly because some negative people don't truly come off as negative. That's so deceitful, isn't it? They'll be more manic-like. More "high as a kite" happy which, in turn, will demote whatever nice thing happened for you. Somehow, they will let you know that the incredible things happening for them should make the evening news and you will quietly tuck your good fortune into your back pocket. That's what happens with the insidiously negative people. Watch out for them. You don't see them coming.
Another thing a mentor does is make you work. Ronnie and I worked on a play together. It really was my dream, but I didn't have the guts to go it alone. He was right there with me. And you know what? We made it happen. I've never worked so hard in my life. Which brings us to Point 2.
Point 2: Don't be afraid of hard work
Man, you've got to work hard in this life. My parents' generation made it look easy. I think they were afraid to be honest with their kids. I never knew any of my father's financial or business-related aches and pains. In my world growing up, he never had them. So, surprise/surprise when I reached an age of truly wanting to make something of myself. I learned you have to work really, back-aching, head-stuffing hard. But the first time I heard the actors speaking the words I wrote in a script, I thought I'd gone to heaven in that small theater with the loud air conditioner.
Okay, this blog is too long! Tune in next time when we hit POINTS 3 & 4!