Dealing with uncertainty of success is a challenge that many people face. It’s something I can attest to struggling with. Not a week goes by when I don’t think to myself, “I’ve been able to do well in various things, but what if that success were to end tomorrow, or what if I am not successful in the future?”
As I’ve transitioned out of college and into the working world, I’ve come to a better place with dealing with the unknown and uncertainty that exists; however, it doesn’t mean that those thoughts go away. As a planner and worrier, I think its only natural to be concerned about the future even when things are going good. To a certain degree, that fear that success is fleeting motivates and pushes me to do my best but also enjoy the moment; you never know when it will cease.
Recently,I came across a blogpost on the uncertainty of success. The writer of the post is reminiscing a tape he found which contained his interview with Ang Lee back in 1993. For non-moviegoers out there, Lee is the critically acclaimed Director who most recently directed Life of Pi, and has had many other blockbuster hits. While he is arguably one of the best Directors today, his success came only after his fair share of dead ends, misfortunes and failures. For quite some time, he was known best as “Spike Lee’s NYU classmate.” After graduating from NYU, he moved into an apartment with his wife whom supported the family as a Microbiologist. While his wife worked, Lee took care of the kids and wrote scripts every day for six years straight, all of which amounted to nothing. At one point, Lee was so discouraged that he contemplated learning computer science and getting a job working in Corporate America. Fortunately, his wife refused to let him do so and he kept writing away. Lee caught his big break in 1991 by Directing a movie that didn’t end up making it to the US. However, it landed him another gig, which landed him another gig, which landed him a Best Foreign Picture Award and put him on the map. 22 years and 4-5 blockbuster hits later (including $576 million in sales and 11 award nominations for Life of Pi) and Lee is a household name.
I don’t know Lee personally but I assume that if someone were to have told him that he’d have a couple really crappy stretches of his life but that he’d eventually break through and become a critically acclaimed Director he would have sucked it up and navigated through the tough times. I bet most of you would have done the same. Unfortunately, life doesn’t work like that. Success is not guaranteed hard work is not always rewarded, and luck doesn’t always bounce your way; each of these being reasons why what Lee did and what so many others who have been successful so admirable. To continue fighting, clawing and chasing something that you believe so passionately in is really difficult when you face setbacks and see others around you succeed. When shit hits the fan are you going to stand tall? Or when something doesn’t pan out are you going to stick to your guns and find an alternative solution? In those moments of challenge, failure and uncertainty our resolve and character is tested; there is always some light at the end of the tunnel, but are we patient and confident enough to look for it?
One of the reasons why I respect Lee is because he carries himself in a way that is unassuming, humble, and human. It makes him seem like he could be just another regular hard-working person just like you or me. He seems to understand that success and good fortune is not something that you get because you deserve it, but it is something you get when you can remain patient, seize the opportunity, and simply hold on and outlast the roadblocks and challenges that come in the way.
For all those out there who are chasing a dream or goal of their own, or are simply looking for motivation, take a peek over at the post for some insight and inspiration. In the meantime, keep plugging away at pursuing something meaningful while believing that the journey may be long and arduous the feeling of success when it does come will be special and worthwhile.