This past week has been inspiring for many as we witnessed Lady Gaga win the Oscar for Best Original song. She won the award for her popular song ‘Shallow’. Throughout the media the fanfare has seen coverage of the award reach all over the world. Further, this excitement has been celebrated that much more due to her speech which many feel to be even more inspiring, epic, encouraging, and hopeful.
One notable part of her acceptance speech resonated with one and all.
“And if you are at home, and you’re sitting on your couch and you’re watching this right now, all I have to say is that this is hard work. I’ve worked hard for a long time, and it’s not about, you know…it’s not about winning. But what it’s about is not giving up. If you have a dream, fight for it. There’s a discipline for passion. And it’s not about how many times you get rejected or you fall down, or you’re beaten up. It’s about how many times you stand up and are brave and you keep on going. Thank you!”
Just listening to these words, seeing the media coverage and celebration, I want in and with such words being said…. I can be like that too!! And the secret as Lady Gaga has revealed to us all, we have to work hard and not give up.
As I wrote that above paragraph you might be mistaken to think of it as sarcasm, however to many people in the world, that far from the truth, they believe that.
I don’t want to get negative here, rather add reality and nuance to dealing with such inspiring ideas. I’ve witnessed friends that have adopted this idea, have applied it and have not been able to reach these same goals. There was no lack of effort and actual work, no lesser passion, I’ve seen their tears as they could not master their aspirations.
In 2017 the world has a population of 7.53 billion. The Oscars are seemingly a world-wide recognition of excellence, but let’s conservatively assume in reality taking into account different cultures etc. that perhaps half the world tunes into the Oscars. That’s 3.75 Billion People (let’s keep it simply for the moment and not worry about age, demographics etc. I think the point will still resonate) so in a simple approach that’s a 1 in 3.75 billion chance each year for a person to be awarded Best Original Song at the Oscars.
So quickly, what the likelihood that I’m that one?
So, what does it take to become that one? Lady Gaga gives us a clue, we need to work through our passions. For a musician that will likely look like; Learn an instrument (or 2 or more) learn how to read and write music, learn how to perform, learn how to communicate, learn how to network, connect with others in the field, perform often, master all these skills, and market yourself, work with others, find funding, repeat repeat repeat. Yes, this is all work, but when we think about it there is so much more to the idea of work than simply saying ‘work’. And after all that there probably is an element of luck, things out of our control that influence the whole process. After all, if we get to become well known will we be chosen for the accolade? Even at the top of popularity there are hundreds hoping to be selected.
A question arises, do I aim to be that 1 in 3.75 billion?
Seth Godin in his recent book ‘The Dip’ helps us answer that question. He asks is to look and examine the activities we do and aspire to and to apply wisdom to see the dead-end activities (the culdasac) and to know when to walk away and then in turn when to push through the trough and rise out the other side (the dip). It’s a short read but does help us self-examine when is the moment to push through. I encourage you to grab a copy (it’s even in an audio book).
Why is this important? Well if we don’t take a moment to self-examine ourselves, we might miss great opportunities to work on great things (no matter the size), know when something is not worth the effort, and to know what’s worth pursuing in the first place and it’s reality.
Seth does reveal this great idea of micro-markets, he argues that the world is now made of these small and in some ways very small markets and that we aim to do well in those rather that seek to be the best on a global market. To that end he argues that the global market is not real anyway and that we’re being misled. Lots to unpack on this idea at a later time.
That means there are more realistic goals to aspire to, we can recognise great things to work on, recognise our strengths and weaknesses through our passions helping us have wisdom to move forward in a constructive reality.
So, when we see these quotes, we do and should feel inspired, but also, I feel that we need to apply nuance as well. To work out could we be that one (and is it for us). To work through the quote, reveal truth and know where to move forward. To self-examine and work out what is valuable to invest work in and not. To develop the wisdom to know when to stop and when to forge forward. This wisdom I believe can be applied to all elements of our lives, both small/insignificant and the large ones too.