Neal Patrick Harris (NPH to Harold & Kumar fans) is a singer, writer, producer, and Emmy- and Tony-award winning actor. If that's
Neal Patrick Harris (NPH to Harold & Kumar fans) is a singer, writer, producer, and Emmy- and Tony-award winning actor.
If that’s not enough, he’s also accomplished the seemingly impossible: Turn teen success into lasting success. (And remained a good guy in the process, which may be even more incredible.)
To what does he credit his success — and career longevity? At least in part to a conversation he had when he was fifteen years old with Steven Bochco, the producer of Doogie Howser, M.D., Harris’s first major acting gig.
I was from New Mexico and very, very green. (Bochco) sat me down and said, “This industry is like surfing. You have to get on a surfboard, and paddle and paddle through, and wait a long time hoping you catch a wave. You try and catch them, and miss them, and someone else will catch them and everyone will cheer.
“Eventually you will catch a wave, and it will be fantastic, and you’ll get all the way to the end… and then the wave will inevitably crash and you’ll have to turn around, and paddle back out, and get hit by waves as you go back out there… and once you get back out there, you’re going to have to sit around for a long time waiting for another wave to come along.
“But the way surfing works is there are always sets of waves that come through… and the goal is to be patient enough to value that metaphor.”
I always had that Bochco conversation in my head, because I desired longevity more than I desired fame.
Failing fast is popular among entrepreneurs. So is building a minimum viable product. In the internet economy, speed is everything. The idea of putting in short-term effort — that doing a little can lead to achieving a lot — is enticing.
But it also seldom works.
Scratch the surface of anyone with exceptional skill and you’ll find a person who put thousands of hours into developing those skills. Scratch the surface of any person who built a lasting business or career and you’ll find a person patient enough to put countless hours into achieving that result.
Pick a goal and set an extremely high standard. (After all, average success often comes from setting average goals.) Decide what you really want: To be the biggest, the best… aim for the ultimate. Decide where, years from now, you want to end up.
That’s your goal.
Then work backward, laying out every step along the way.
When your ultimate goal is lasting success, you will not only make better decisions along the way.
You’ll find easier to find the patience required to achieve what you really want to achieve.
Published on: Aug 9, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.
This article is from Inc.com