“I want to be one of those guys.”
Saying these eight words will help you be successful.
I recently watched HBO’s Talking Funny, where comedians Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Louis CK, and Ricky Gervais talked about comedy. Initially I tuned in because I’m a huge fan of Louis CK, but I enjoyed a few of their interesting insights as well.
One particular insight that fascinated me was how they had similar mindsets at the start of their careers. At one point Louis CK asks Seinfeld what made him get back on stage after bombing his first set. Seinfeld explains:
Success wasn’t my objective. It was just ‘I want to be one of those guys’. If I can be one of those guys, then I win everything. Money was not the thing. So once I stepped on there for the first time, that’s it—I’m now one of these guys. I’m just going to keep doing this.
Louis CK tells a similar story. He explains that during his beginner days he, too, wanted to be ‘one of those guys’.
I started in Boston, and there were these comedians that were like ‘Olympus’, this group of guys. And I wanted to be one of them. And I didn’t care if I sucked at it.
These successful comics started their stand up careers simply because they wanted to be like the jokers they looked up to.
This Mindset Inspires You to Start
Now, you might be asking yourself, ‘wanting to be like the people you admire—how is that a successful attitude?’
Well, because it gets you started.
When I first declared I wanted to be a writer, it wasn’t for money or anything else. I wanted the identity of a writer. I wanted my writing to define me.
So I started writing. And I decided to keep doing it. Because I like it.
If I never make a bunch of money, that doesn’t matter. Of course I want a secure financial future like anyone else, but that’s not what drives me.
My mindset is this—I want the lifestyle of a writer. I want to devour books like a writer. Roam libraries like a writer. Analyze situations like a writer.
And I’m doing that. I’ve achieved what I primarily set out to do. I never set out to be the next William Faulkner.
I’m just gonna keep writing. And try to get better along the way.
What’s important is becoming the person you want to become, realizing your desired identity. Like Louis CK said, I don’t care too much if I suck at the craft. I don’t care if I still suck in 10 years.
I just want to do it. And if I can make a living off it, I win.
What Identity Do You Want for Yourself?
So ask yourself: are there painters/ photographers/ comics/ musicians you want to be like? Do you wish you had their lifestyle, their creative freedom, their job, their identity?
Then go for it (if you haven’t already). Don’t worry about success. Don’t stress out about being good at your craft…yet.
Be ready to work hard. Have sincere intentions. Become the identity you want to become. And you’ll be happy and fulfilled (regardless of the success you do or don’t get).
And, paradoxically, success will probably come to you, without you having to directly sniff it out.
So if you ever say, ‘I want to be like those guys’, you’re on the right track. Become that identity and, as Jerry Seinfeld believed, you’ve already won.