Almost everyone has heard the “rags to riches” urban myths and legends about how big-name Hollywood stars got “discovered” — literally picked out of a crowd in some random place, purely thanks to a chance encounter. True serendipity.
Natalie Portman was approached in a pizza parlor by a modeling scout when she was a child, but she told the agent she’d be more interested in acting than in modeling. Shortly thereafter, she was cast in “The Professional.” Johnny Depp tagged along with a friend who was auditioning for a boyfriend role in a horror film, with no plans to try out himself — and ended up landing his first feature film part in the original “Nightmare on Elm Street.” Charlize Theron yelled at a bank teller who refused to cash her check, and a talent agent who was in line behind her handed her his card. Pamela Anderson was spotted on a Jumbotron screen at a football game, wearing a really tight shirt, and the rest is history. Rosario Dawson was approached while she was hanging out on a stoop in New York, and the photographer told her about a screenplay they were working on (which turned out to be “KIds”). Former carpenter Harrison Ford was building cabinets in George Lucas’ home, and we all know now just how far that relationship went… “To a galaxy far, far away,” to be exact, although they had a quick stop-off in “American Graffiti” first.
While the “discovery” tales are fun to read, what they never mention is just how long the people had been working already on their craft.
Harrison Ford had actually learned carpentry because he kept getting crappy acting roles, and he had to pay the bills somehow. Charlize Theron was a struggling actor, and the check she was trying to cash was from her mother, to help pay her rent.
So many of the “overnight success” stories gloss over the years of dues-paying that every artist does. They tell the hometown kid story and then jump to the A-list success story, and very little of what happens in between gets focused on because in truth, it’s not that interesting. That’s not what sells magazines.
Sensational overnight-success stories sell more magazines.
They sell speeches and online courses, too.
But for so many women, being “discovered” has become the modern-day equivalent of the Prince singling out Cinderella in a crowded ballroom. Everybody loves a fairy-tale of someone who’s deserving and “worthy” receiving a blessing for no real effort-based reason, and the happily ever-after that comes with it.
And that metaphor applies whether you’re waiting to be discovered in acting, speaking, modeling, or in a corporate workplace.
But the problem is this:
In any case, you’re just WAITING.
That’s a really dangerous trap to get caught in because it’s giving all your power to someone else.
So STOP waiting. Don’t let your success depend on someone else picking you out of the crowd, without any real effort on your part.
You’ve got to put yourself out there, every day. Take big risks.
Then no one else can take credit for your successes. You also can’t blame anyone else for your failures.
You’re accepting 100% responsibility for your own dreams and goals.
Be willing to risk big and sometimes to fail big so that you can learn big, and then you’ll WIN big, too.
(And to the grammar police, I already know how hideous that sentence is. Whatever. Proper grammar is not my point here…)
You can’t just wait to be found. You’ve got to put yourself in front of people so you can be seen.
Don’t be the wallflower waiting for someone to ask you to dance.
If you’re never seen, you’ll never be discovered.
And this time, I mean “discovered” as in your tribe finding you. Not a fairy godmother who gives you glass shoes. (Or a talent agent who offers you a contract.)
Instead of waiting, put all your efforts into getting yourself in front of the right crowds of the right people, and when you show up, show up with everything you’ve got.
Get out on that dance floor and shake your tail feathers, honey. Everyone will see what a great time you’re having and they’ll be inspired to join in on the fun.
It’s not about hustle. It’s about full-scale body-and-soul commitment.
People will follow you because you look like you’re having a great time, and they want to feel that way, too.
Growth and learning are never-ending processes. So you learn everything you can with every presentation you give or every audition you do, so that you can do even better the next time.
Don’t worry about being perfect or even about getting it right 100% of the time. Perfection is nothing more than one fleeting moment where everything lands just right, for one second, and it’s gone just as quickly as it came.
Focus on bringing everything you’ve got to the stage, every time.
Everything good and bad that’s brought you to where you are today. Let it all come out.
Focus on finding as many of the right stages as you can, to share your story.
And when you do that, the people who resonate with your message and your vibe will want more of you.
And that’s how your tribe begins to grow. One person at a time, one connection at a time.
And the better you get at it, the faster your tribe grows.
No more waiting for someone else to give you permission to shine.
No more playing by their rules.
You’re creating your life and career on your own terms, to suit your dreams.
You’re changing the world into the world you want your future self to live in.
Because you took the risk, and it paid off.