Ok. First of all, I have absolutely nothing against having a new idea go viral overnight and waking up to discover I have a new reality TV show, 5 million Twitter followers, a private jet, and a seven figure endorsement deal from the Library Association. That would be my definition of sweet (as defined also in dictionaries available nationwide in your local public library - I'd get 10K just for adding that little factoid. But I digress). Instant success has its charms. But, there is a nubby weave behind the smooth tapestry of most outsized success. And that, right now, is my concern.
Let me read to you from the actual paper version of today's New York Times Book Review. Turning through it, I came across a page entitled "Devilish Audacity" where John Simon reviews a new biography of Sir Lawrence Olivier (Olivier, by Philip Ziegler), who was said by many to be the greatest actor of his time (in addition to "the most dashing of actors" and "the most seductive of human beings" - among many other superlatives). Simon helpfully summarizes an important point in the new book about Olivier:
He was a tireless worker: It took him two years to learn how to move onstage, and another two, how to laugh.
That got my attention, and I would have laughed aloud, aside from the realization that I may not have worked hard enough as of yet on that particular vocal and facial expression of astonished surprise. Then, this:
On stage and on screen, he could give an impression of openness, brilliance, lightness, and speed. In fact, he was the opposite. His great strength was that of the ox. He always reminded me of a countryman, of a ... peasant taking his time .... Once a conception had taken root in him, no power could change the direction in which the ox would pull the cart.
Impressive. And suggestive. Behind many forms of flashy, flamboyant success, there is a lot of dogged, ox-like, hard work. Two years to learn to move on stage? Two years to learn to laugh? Yes. And as we go out onto our own dramatic stages, at work, or at home, or in the community, we should not allow ourselves to forget the hard work that alone will lift any performance to a distinctive level of power. In an age that celebrates the fruits of work without equally honoring or encouraging the work itself that typically makes those delights possible, we need to remind ourselves that the greatest never get that way without a lot of hard, hard work.
But if you love what you're doing, you can enjoy even the greatest efforts. The hard work itself can be a suitable and satisfying outlet for your energy. And - who knows? You can't really rule out that reality TV show.