Singer Robin Thicke has something to celebrate. After 10 years in the business, the 36-year old has his first #1 album with Blurred Lines. His first album never got out of the triple digit ranks. Think Thicke has grit to stick with it for all these years? The band Black Sabbath recorded music for 46 years before their album, 13, hit #1 in June. The crackerjack team over at Rovio Entertainment created the wildly popular app, Angry Birds, after creating 51 other apps.
Age has nothing to do with it
Hollywood, Broadway, Silicon Valley, and American Idol have created a culture obsessed with youth. The wild rise of Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, and other tech moguls in their 20s has caused a dangerous and unfortunate fixation on youth among the venture and investor community. Many VCs and investors refuse to even hear the startup pitches of any founders older than 30. We bemoan getting older and so we nip, tuck, pluck, lie about our age, and workout to the point of breaking our bodies, never happy with how we look or where we are along life’s path. Robin Thicke is 36. Ozzy Osbourne is 64. Peter Vesterbacka, one of the Angry Birds creators, is 44. If you think you have to be at the top of your field before you see your first wrinkle or gray hair, think again.
Success takes time and talent
When we aren’t as successful as we’d like to be at something right off the bat, we often throw in the towel. Too often and too soon, we sulk back to our homes, hide under our beds, and hope for brighter days ahead. Sometimes we resign ourselves to the idea that time has passed us by. Don’t do that. Figure out what worked, what didn’t work, and try again with this knowledge in-hand.
If your work isn’t its own reward, then find other work
Success is a personal and daily process. Even if I never receive any kind of critical acclaim as a writer, I’ll never think of the time I spend writing as a waste and I’ll never stop writing. The act of writing, putting my story out there and knowing that it helps others, is all the reward I ever need from it. Certainly critical success on a large scale would be lovely, but I don’t sit down every day and write with that as a goal. I’m trying to tell a story as honestly and as clearly as possible. If you’re working only for external rewards, you are wasting your time and setting yourself up for enormous disappointment.
If you found work you love, stick with it. If you get up every day, excited to create something, then keep creating. If your work fills your heart as it grows your portfolio, then you’re on the right track.