You hear it a lot in Hollywood, “Success is equal parts hard work, luck, and knowing the right people.”
But who are the “right people”?
Of course, there’s the obvious “right people” every writer dreams of knowing: agents at big companies, executives at major networks, or producers with deep pockets. It goes without saying that getting any one of these people on your team can change your career. But the people that are going to have the biggest impact on the way you think, the way you act, and the way you are approaching your goals are not the “big players” of Hollywood, they are your core community. The 5-10 people (friends, family members, colleagues) you surround yourself with most. Trust me, relationships are like elevators; they can either lift you up or take you down.
Here are 5 Reasons why surrounding yourself with the “right people” can directly affect your personal success (or lack of):
1. You will be inspired by proxy.
One of the biggest pay offs of having friends who are passionate about pursuing their dreams and who take responsibility for their lives is that you can’t help but be inspired to do the same. And that doesn’t just mean other writers, or even people in the industry, for that matter! A friend who’s a marathon runner can inspire you to write for longer than you thought you could, a friend who decides to get out of their comfort zone and try salsa dancing can inspire you to take creative risks with your screenplay. If everyone around you is ambitious, and doing their best to live a healthy lifestyle, it’s going to have a positive impact on the way you think and act.
2. You will be forced to grow (probably faster than you want to).
There’s a reason we hire personal trainers to help us workout: even though we know it’s going to hurt, we want someone to push us past our limits. If you only surround yourself with people who are at your level (or below) how are you supposed to reach your potential? I’m not saying dump all of your friends who are in the trenches with you, it’s important to have peers, but it’s undeniable that people who are more successful than you will expand your idea of what’s possible. How are you ever going to grow if you’re the best writer or the most successful one in the room? There’s no big pay off from being the big fish in the little pond. Surround yourself with people who push you to challenge yourself.
3. You won’t be in it alone.
All writers get dealt their fair share of rejection and disappointment, it’s part of the game. Having strong, self-assured friends to lean on when things get rough, and also to celebrate with when you have a “win” is vital. A good community can help you keep perspective, make you laugh when you need it, and remind you that you and your work matter. But a friendly warning: there IS a difference between a friendship that helps hold you up when times are tough, and a friendship that THRIVES on tough times. Be wary of friends who are always bitching about the industry, and try to pull you down into their negative mindset. Have friends who let you share your frustrations and vulnerabilities in a way that allows you to release them and then get back in the saddle to fight another day.
4. They’ll “tell you the truth”.
It’s invaluable to have someone in your circle who gives you honest feedback - both on your scripts and your life. Someone who can compassionately tell you when your writing is veering off track, when you’re not pushing yourself enough, or when you’re pushing too hard. Being told ‘how it really is’ by people who have your best interests at heart can save you valuable time and energy.
5. Your opportunities will multiply.
I’m all for healthy competition, but people who would climb over you or toss you aside for success are not your real friends. Find people who want you to succeed right alongside them. Friends who not only believe in your potential and talent, but who are eager to help you get in the door. Yes, this includes the illusive producer friend with deep pockets, and the executive friend who’s just waiting for the opportunity to pitch your next project, but it also includes fellow writers, filmmakers, and even people who aren’t in the industry. The more people who wouldn’t hesitate to recommend you and your work if the opportunity presents itself, the more chances you have of achieving your dreams.
How do your friends impact your success? Let me know @CaroleKirsch!