How many times does a door open, do you think?
I suppose it depends on the building, the neighborhood, the time of year. It probably has a lot to do with who you are when you’re standing in front of it, too.
Here’s my question, do you think there’s a single door anywhere that has ever opened only once?
If you see a door that only opens once, it’s because you didn’t stand in front of it long enough to see it open again. If that door stays closed, there’s plenty you can do in that time to make yourself more appealing and try to keep that door open as long as possible the next time. And there will be a next time. And a time after that. And a time after that.
It is a fallacy to think we each get “a shot” at our dreams. It is a fallacy because there’s not simply one occasion in which we get that shot. There’s countless within our lives. Might the door open more when we’re one age than another? Sure. Might it open more often if we looked different, went to a different school, knew someone on the inside? Sure.
But that door will open.
A friend of mine, his name is Chip, has been standing on that doorstep for eight years. A cynic would say eight years is too long to wait for an opportunity. Very recently, Chip moved to L.A. He’s a comedian. He’s one of the few funny ones you’re promised exist but seldom see. Right now he’s in L.A. “roughing it”. “Roughing it” is code for living without a place to live. “Roughing it” is making do with far less than what you actually need.
A cynic would say eight years is too long to now be roughing it in L.A. waiting for that door to open. But let me tell you what so many people overlook.
Chip is standing in front of a door waiting for it to open. But it’s not the same door you or I would be standing in front of. And it’s not the next door after that, or the next door after that. Chip has waited for every opportunity, made himself available at every turn. He’s sacrificed and focused. Every time the door in front of him opens, Chip walks through.
Chip is standing in front of a door that many years ago I walked away from. Why I walked away… I can hardly bring myself to remember. It was thirteen years ago. I was alone for the first time in my life. I let destructive relationships undermine my confidence. I let myself think that my dreams were secondary pursuits. So I got out of them what I put into them, which amounted to nothing. And the shame and disappoint from that failure swell in my head and press upon my memories so that none of my experience from that time gets through. There’s a window of my life that never happened. Because it hurts too much to admit I let myself down.
It’s taken thirteen years to start my own engine again, to put dreams and ambition at the forefront. In that time since leaving L.A., I was captive to the belief that you only get one opportunity and mine had passed.
It was very much like death.
Now I know that I have every opportunity, every day. It sounds so horribly cliche, perhaps naive. But Chip knows it, too. Chip waits tables and sleeps in his car at night. He knows it’s an opportunity. Every night he sleeps in his car, he knows it’s the opportunity to quit and run home, or stay and wait for the next time that doors opens, for him to get a little further from people too impatient to wait outside for the door to open, afraid it might never open.
Every day is an opportunity to keep going and Chip does.
In that same way, we each have an opportunity. Our doors have not closed. Our shots will come again. If you try everyday, you will succeed. You will get further and further, maybe only inch by inch, but you will get further. It’s not even a question of talent or skill. It’s not about your look. It’s not even who you know.
Chip has consistency. I strive to have consistency. You can have consistency.
I don’t know what your goals are. I don’t know where you want to be. But I do know… if you try everyday, you will get there. Don’t bother asking me “what about this hypothetical situation down the line”. You’re not there yet. When you are there, it may take a while, but you will think of a solution. You’ll have setbacks. That’s true no matter what course you take in life. If you decide everyday to move towards your goal, you will succeed.
The truth is, the best part of all, you won’t succeed down the line… you’ll succeed today. You’ll succeed because you are being the advocate of your ambition, the champion of your passion. You’ll succeed because you’ll be doing what you weren’t doing the day before, what others may never galvanize themselves to do.
At night, sometimes, I fear I have not tried hard enough. I fear I have not put myself to good use. Maybe I’m too hard on myself. But that is all we really have to fear. We control nothing else but our direction and our energy. I don’t know how long I’ll live or how quickly “success” will come. But I have today and I can do my best.
As a side note, never be one of those people who are preoccupied with the question “have I arrived?”. Have you heard people ask that on social media, softly seeking affirmation, “does this mean I have arrived?”. Never be one of those people. Don’t be one of those people who seeks to have someone tell you that you have succeeded. And never be one of those people who “arrive” and then stop.
Everyday, no matter how far you succeed, vow to keep going. Keep growing. Get better. Do better. Teach other to people to be better. Or reinvent yourself entirely. Because everyday we can stand in front of a new door and wait for it to open… and see where it leads us.
You have the power to do this today. If you don’t do it today, you’ll have the same power tomorrow.
Never allow yourself to feel powerless.
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