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When Academy Award winner Tom Hanks was recently asked by TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie to offer up his gutsiest career decision, he replied, “The gutsiest thing sometimes is to say ‘no’ to something.”
Citing examples of money and flattery as tempting triggers to say “yes,” Hanks reminded me of the fact that many of us jump into projects and opportunities because we are motivated by factors that have nothing to do with our ultimate goals. Often, these factors actually interfere with our desired outcomes.
Certainly we can learn from those less than ideal experiences and grow from the truly negative ones. And there are the incredible opportunities we didn’t know were incredible at the time. So there’s that. But the truth of the matter is, it can also be extremely difficult to turn down something that looks like a possible opportunity. It can also be difficult to make the distinction between opportunity and an ego-boosting pitch.
How can we be better decision makers? Look at your patterns from the past. Slow down. Make a list of the positive and negative factors associated with each project and examine how they line up with your short-term and long-term needs and goals. Try to peel off the layers of fluff and flattery before you make your choices.
In the same interview, Hanks also revealed the advice he would give his younger self. “I would say, ‘Calm down. And also understand that any good feeling you have, any accomplishment you have will fade away. And any negative, any moment that you’re hurt, any moment that you’re stung because it didn’t work out that way you were hoping, that too shall fade away.’”
Award-winning advice from an award-winning actor.
Don’t worry! No spoilers.
Whether or not you’re a fan of the antics of Midge Maisel and her colorful journey, Amazon’s comedy-drama series The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel offers up plenty of life lessons to ponder as we craft our own to-do lists on the road to creative success in 2020. Here are a few. Add yours in the comment section.
Lesson 1: Paying attention to the creative fire within you can pay off. What lights up your enthusiasm or makes you feel like you have finally found the perfect place to land? Sometimes it takes a little trial-and-error to find the right job or the right hobby. PS: Remember, as Miriam Maisel can attest, finding the perfect creative job doesn’t mean it will be the perfect paying job.
Lesson 2: Finding your unique and honest voice can give you an edge. In a copycat world, there are plenty of people who try to mimic the talented and successful. The truly talented are those who find and develop their own style. Midge Maisel is the coiffed, pearl-wearing, fashion plate comic comfortable in her own skin. She doesn’t look or sound like any of her colleagues or competitors.
Lesson 3: Being memorable might get you the gig. Talent makes you memorable. Kindness makes you memorable. Hard work makes you memorable. Quirkiness makes you memorable. Midge’s colorful over-the-top fashion always makes her memorable. But so does her enthusiasm for great food, her inability to say “no” to a career opportunity, and her talent for thinking fast (creating original, relatable material) on her feet.
Lesson 4: Learn when to dump it. Unnecessary baggage can slow you down. Sometimes you’ve got to load up the taxi with luggage before you realize the importance of leaving something behind. Always an over-packer, Midge might not be able to part with her hat boxes, but over time she has gotten a bit better at culling out or ignoring some of the metaphorical baggage in her life. Warning: Don’t be too quick to toss though, life can throw you some unexpected, supportive surprises.
Lesson 5: Keep moving forward. Constantly show up with your best work. Take pride in your work ethic and perfectionism. And be patient. Nothing happens overnight, especially success. Mrs. Maisel’s been at it for three seasons and her journey continues. So does yours.
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