Have you ever heard of someone who tried and tried for years on end to do something that they loved to do and never got a chance to do it? I don’t mean filling Madison Square Garden if your passion is singing. I’m talking about performing at that small club that seats 50 people—for starters anyway. Recently I wrote about grace, when great opportunities just come to you when you’re at the right place at the right time. Today I want to write about chances you create for yourself.
The more I ingest biographies and watch VH1 True Hollywood Stories, Lifetime Intimate Portraits not to mention conducting my own interviews of successful life coaches, writers, business people and others, the more I’m convinced that having an affinity for something goes a long way—even further sometimes than natural ability and/or training. And that’s because affinity coupled with action will lead you to everything that you need.
In the 1940s after washing dishes in New York City for a few years a very young and then unknown Sidney Poitier was looking through the want ads of the famed Amsterdam News when he saw a casting call for actors. Aside from telling his sister that he wanted to be a cowboy in Hollywood when he was 12, Poitier had never seriously considered acting. However he figured that since he’d tried other jobs, why not?
Well that first attempt wasn’t exactly successful. In his book The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography, Poitier wrote that when the guy in charge of the auditions found out that Sidney was barely literate and had no acting training whatsoever, he promptly grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and threw him out of the building!
Poitier admits that it was a pride thing at first. He didn’t appreciate being judged so harshly by this stranger so he read newspapers to improve his vocabulary. The next time he approached the theater to audition they let him in to train. Within a few months, however, due to his lack of education and experience, the future Oscar winner was failing the class. So he worked out a deal. He’d work as the janitor if they’d let him stay.
Now that’s love. True love gives you the ability to negotiate for yourself opportunities no matter how humble. Here’s another thing about showing devotion to your craft, you must press on even if you’re afraid that you stink at what you’re doing. Even when you are doubting yourself you must continue to work, to unearth opportunities for yourself.
Poitier says that when he first started acting he flubbed his lines on the regular and suffered terribly from stage fright. Still he pressed on. It was not until 1960 while starring in the stage production of A Raisin in the Sun did Poitier truly feel that he was an actor. And this was after he’d been making movies since 1950. He writes, “After all the years of struggling with a craft I couldn’t get a grip on. After all those things—that night in 1960 I knew for certain that I had just been formally introduced to my true calling…”
Imagine that. If it takes over a decade of hard work to get an introduction to your craft, imagine how long it takes to master it. Poitier said it would be another seven years of work before he’d truly mastered his own technique and could go toe to toe with such heavy weights as Rod Steiger when they starred together in In the Heat of the Night.
Another way to create opportunity for yourself is to connect with others who share your ambitions. I’m a huge believer in joining professional associations and other groups that promote niche interests. Critical to my own writing life are the writing groups I’ve belonged to. That’s how I learned about the confession writing market and even this opportunity on Bellaonline.
Put forth action after action after action. The law of accumulation will be on your side and you will be successful doing what you love.