Two of my favorite actors have major things in common--with each other...and with anyone who's earned good luck after years of failure.
For your consideration, Burt Reynolds and Mickey Rourke. In another life, it seems, each had been voted World's Sexiest Man. And each had had memorable hits. But for reasons we needn't go into, each man watched in horror as his career hit the skids. Bad luck. Bad film choices. Bad karma. Bad fights. Bad whatever.
For our exercise today, please shift your focus from all past mistakes to the Moment of Glory that each of them blew. They were both given huge second chances: Burt got a role in Boogie Nights and Mickey got the lead in The Wrestler. Worth nothing: the two had needed champions to help them land these parts. But their bad luck was on the mend when each was put up for an Oscar. And here's the moment you want to remember.
You don't need to be a movie star with two dozen films behind you. You don't need to be an author with six published books to your credit. To perform this exercise, all you need is to have gone through at least a few years of rejection. Better still if you've experienced at least a little revilement. Now:
Back to Burt and Mickey. Neither man could shut his mouth. The mockeries and rejections bubbled in their blood. Burt began to make bitter remarks about the Academy, how they'd waited far too long to give him his fair due. And Mickey started going on about how now the bastards would pay millions upon millions for all of the years of neglect.
Their anger's understandable. But their second chances are long gone and we seem to have lost two great actors for keeps. The Money Men won't finance films with embittered and difficult actors whom they perceive as has-beens. Especially if they've played some part in turning them to has-beens.
Just think about this the next time you're tempted to lash out at agents, publishers or anyone in power. You may be right but it's infinitely better, when your own chance does arrive, to do your best to radiate gratitude and good will.