Last month I found myself at the library, checking out a pile of books. One of the books at the top of my list for a while was Born Standing Up by Steve Martin, the memoir if his 18 years developing his stage show and then leaving this aspect of his career at the height of its success.
I’m not sure why I wanted to read this book so badly. I haven’t seen many Steve Martin movies or read any of his other books, but I do love stand-up and I thought it would contain some gems about his process.
Martin’s dad moved the family to Los Angeles to pursue his own Hollywood dreams. That failed pretty quickly, and Martin found himself 10 years old and in biking distance of the brand-new Disneyland of Anaheim, CA. The combination of accessibility, loose child-labor laws and Martin’s budding fascination with both comedy and magic made him perfect for a job selling maps to Disneyland visitors. That gig led to his working in the joke and magic shops within the park, along with a free pass to wander when he wasn’t working. Those jobs delivered him to his first mentors, colleagues and bosses who also worked at the park. The park also provided a stage for him to work out his own interest in comedy shows – meshing magic and humor into a show he then shopped to other venues in the Socal area. And the rest, they say, is history…
The book itself was good, well-written but not life-changing. That’s OK. Because what I really pulled from it is this:
It seemed to me that forces were working to support Martin’s path way before he understood what this path would be. Before he understood what he would become. It’s incredible to read this book and not see the connections and opportunities he was perfectly primed for. Now, I understand that this is all the expertise of memoir – creating themes and links between events – the very example of hind-sight.
But I also started to think about my own life, and the stories that people share with me, of how event A didn’t lead directly to event B but flew off the path and created some new path stretching out from event Q. People talk all of the time about how they ended up where they are through a combination of planning, hard work and luck (the definition of success as one famous quote puts it) but what struck me recently is that, if this is all true, then we’re all exactly where we’re supposed to be.
I’m not writing this to dismantle your hardships or send the encouraging (but pain in the ass message) that everything happens for a reason, but the more I listen to people’s stories (or read ones like Steve Martin’s) I have a hard time believing anything else is true.
You’re right where you’re supposed to be.
That job, opportunity, offer, connection, project that just crossed your path this week? I truly believe that you can step into that without hesitations that you’re not the “right” person for the job because, if you weren’t, you wouldn’t be in this position in the first place.
Does that make sense?
So, for whatever that’s worth, I hope it leaves your day a bit brighter. And if you have a story to share about being right where you’re supposed to be, feel free to post in the comments. And if that’s too public for you, leave a comment that I should email you – and I will.