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As a writer struggling to get attention, there’s one type of interview I find especially painful to listen to. It’s the “Dark Before the Dawn” story. Today it was John Krasinski speaking on Fresh Air.
His story: He decided to become an actor and move to New York. His Mom said she wouldn’t argue with his choice as long as he agreed to give up after two years if it wasn’t happening. At the end of two years he still wasn’t getting anywhere. He told his Mom he was giving up. That was September. She suggested he keep going until the end of the year.
Three weeks later he was offered the lead role in the TV showThe Office. What’s the moral of the story? Don’t give up because it’s always darkest before the dawn?
I think there’s something deeper here. I think if we take the story at face value we’ll find it entertaining and inspiring. But perhaps the story is deceptively misleading.
I think these kinds of success-stories are from people who considered themselves to be failing when, actually, they were doing very well and didn’t recognize it. You could see this as a kind of failure, that they couldn’t be happy until they’d scored their big swish. You could also see it as a particular talent, to push on through the darkness far longer than other people.
These people who were ready to quit just before they hit it big probably weren’t really ready to quit. That’s just how they tell their story. In reality nothing could have stopped them at any time.
These kinds of people push on through the dark forever until they hit. They may despair, but really they see despair as another facet of the life that successful people live. Whether consciously or unconsciously, they keep going in spite of their emotional state.
We mustn’t be fooled by their story. It’s too trite, too tempting, to believe that the next big success is just waiting for us over the horizon. We can tell that story after we hit it, if we want.
Really, success is waiting for us if we see despair as part of the journey rather than a false ending. Whether we hit it big or not, we keep going because we want to, or we have to. And if we do find ourselves successful, we have to keep going after that too, because those are the real success stories.
Do you agree? Or have I gone too far? Or have I not gone far enough?