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Success Isn’t Sexy

Becoming a successful entrepreneur isn’t sexy. Becoming a successful TV writer isn’t sexy. Becoming an in-demand speaker isn’t sexy.

It’s hard fucking work.

I had a conversation recently with a young hopeful in the entertainment business. She wanted to know how I’d done it — how I’d become a television writer, how I’d created a studio career for myself, how I’d gotten agents and jobs.

I asked her WHY she wanted to be in the business.

It’s the same question I ask my With Emily activation clients now.

WHY do you want to pursue your dreams?

Her answer made me want to bash my head against a wall.

“I love watching TV and I want to be part of that.”

It’s the equivalent to a hopeful solopreneur’s response of “I want freedom and to be my own boss.”

A valid desire.

A sexy desire.

And not enough.

The young entertainment hopeful was despairing of her success because she’d spent a couple of months interviewing for jobs without landing one. She mentioned how she’d walked away from a job offer because a colleague at the company had been there for 18 months without a promotion.

I asked her if she was working on any scripts. “Kind of.”

I asked her what her favorite shows were. “Um…”

I asked her what about her favorite show made it so. “The star actor is my hero.”

Can you see the problem here?

There’s no specificity.

There’s no hint of awareness of the gritty realities about what it takes to be successful.

Don’t be seduced by the rewards of your pursuit.

My young, hopeful friend couldn’t tell me any specifics about the business, the BUSINESS of the business. All she was seeing was post-coital glow that comes after all the hustle.

It’s no different from an entrepreneur’s glassy-eyed chase of the “easy-peasy” six-figure income or alluring Balinese cabana-as-office-space.

Success is about being willing to do the day-to-day work, with the potential for no reward.

It’s about writing a brilliant script that no one reads. And then writing another one. And another one. And another one.

It’s about creating a life-changing program that no one purchases. And then creating another one. And another one. And another one.

It’s about working with a balance sheet that’s in the red. And still in the red. And still in the red. And still in the red.

It’s about showing up for the mundane tasks.

It’s about never being too experienced to do the grunt work.

It’s about having super frustrating days, and huge set-backs, and bitter disappointments.

It’s about being in a vacuum, shouting into the wind, being misunderstood.

And still getting out of bed in the morning without hitting snooze.

And doing it all again tomorrow. And tomorrow. And tomorrow.

And waiting. And creating. And knowing.

Knowing that you’re doing the work because you MUST DO IT. Because there’s nothing else that feeds your soul in quite this way. Because you’re okay with not being sexy as long as you can love.

There will always be the outliers who claim to make a million within their first year of business or find their fame while sipping a milkshake at the corner soda fountain.

Let them be sexy all they want.

You, my lovely, are BEAUTIFUL.

What beautiful existence are you building today?

with pleasure,

Emily Lewis

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{ 8 comments… add one }
  • Anna Long-Stokes June 25, 2015, 11:25

    Amen sister! I couldn’t have said this better myself. Desire is great, but doing the work (again and again) is where you get the results!

    • Emily Lewis June 25, 2015, 12:04

      Thanks, Anna! There’s so much flash and bang and glitz out there. So few folks talk about the 99%. Glad you concur with the message. 🙂

    • Mallie Rydzik June 25, 2015, 13:43

      Here to echo the amen!

      • Emily Lewis June 25, 2015, 14:19

        Love the echo, Mallie — great minds and all 🙂

  • Nat, Website Superhero June 25, 2015, 19:56

    What a cool post. So gritty.

    • Emily Lewis June 25, 2015, 21:19

      Oh, I love the word gritty — and truth often is. I’m so happy you dropped by, Natalia!

  • Maisie Smith June 30, 2015, 06:13

    Beautiful vs. sexy… there’s a HUGE difference between those words in the entrepreneurial world. The struggle is beautiful, because that’s where the real lessons play out. The sweat of the hustle, unfortunately, isn’t very sexy. Dang.

    Great post, Emily.

    • Emily Lewis June 30, 2015, 16:14

      You’re so right, Maisie. I honestly thing there are a gazillion hours of conversation potential around the concepts of beautiful vs. sexy in business (and, hell, in life as well). This may call for a retreat…

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