My wife is a figure skating coach. She holds a skating camp every August, where she teaches 30+ skaters, of various levels, how to become better at the craft.
At the end of the skating week, she had a guest speaker come in and talk to the girls. The speaker this year was Olympic gold medalist Vicki (Movsessian) Lamoriello , from the U.S.A Women’s Hockey team in Nagano. Her talk was about how her young daughter got a role in the school play, as a flower. Her daughter came home distraught about the role…she thought she deserved something more prominent. Why be in the play if she was only going to be a role player.
Lamoriello’s response to her daughter? Be the best flower you can be.
Our lives are about learning moments. Moments, like this, that we all struggle with at some point or another. This is the value of team and ensemble endeavors; whether it be theatre, sports, or any activity that involves a collective unit to achieve a specific goal.
Sometimes, we need to be the flower. Being the flower is important. Without the flower, the scene is incomplete. It’s just like being the 6th man, or 12th man for that matter, on a basketball team. You are not a starter. You are a role player, brought in for a specific purpose at a certain point in the game: in relief of a starting player, to be a defensive specialist, or maybe as a shooting specialist. But your ROLE is important.
It’s also important to have pride in your work. Understanding that your role is important is the first step in having pride in becoming great at the craft. William Goldman, the two time Academy Award winning screenwriter of Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid and All the President’s Men, once noted how most screenwriters want to become directors. He never did. He focused on his craft, his role, and became competent in that profession. He relished his role in the filmmaking process. In the creative process.
All of us screenwriters do not need to become directors.
All of us 6th men do not need to become star players.
Often times, it can be just as rewarding to be fulfilled in our role, than to covet another “seemingly” better role.
One of the worst business decisions I ever made was when I took a competitive offer for a $15,000 pay raise. I left Los Angeles less than 6 months after my Dad passed away, to take this new job with more money, back in Boston.
Years earlier, my dad asked me about my goals. I told him my goal was to make $100,000 per year. He asked me why. I said, because I think I can be comfortable at that level of income. He chuckled.
He said to me “Nick, that’s an awful goal. Once you get to $100,000, you’ll move the goal to $150,000. Then to $200,000. It’s a moving target. That won’t make you happy.”
I rolled my eyes and ignored his advice. Boy was he right. I left that job a year and a half later to start my own business (which failed, but that’s a different article altogether).
The reason my goal was so empty, was that I had deeper issues. I had issues with my self worth (I still do). I felt that if I made a certain amount of money, I would be somebody. I would gain confidence.
It’s the same reason we all want to be more than the flower. We all think we can do more. That we can, and should, be the star.
Here’s the point: you are a star. You are the star. You are the star of your own life…you just have to step into it. You are worth it, and your team is worth it. It is worth putting in the work to become the best flower you can be.
Go ahead, reach for your dreams. Be ambitious. Just don’t do it to the detriment of your current role and your current team. You are worth it, and so is your team.
Flowers need sun and water to grow. Be patient.