Friday, June 13, 2008

Steve Martin: “Be so good they can’t ignore you” (i.e. have really high standards)

Steve Martin’s advice for succeeding? “Be so good they can’t ignore you”

You can see him saying this at the very end of this (54 min) interview with Charlie Rose.
As I’ve said before I think that if you want to be really good at something, you have to have really high standards.

If you want to be so good that people can’t ignore you, you can’t be easily satisfied with your capabilities. You have to be always trying to make them better, to make them the best they can possibly be. You have to have really high standards.

Steve Martin says he often gets asked for advice about how to succeed. People want to know things like how you get into the movies or how to get their screenplay read.

What they usually want is some sort of set of steps that they can follow, like "go to this sort of place to find the right people and present your screenplay in this manner". They want a recipe or formula.

They want something where the course is laid out and can be fairly blindly followed. Where there isn't uncertainty that requires adaptability and creativity. But the reality isn't that simple.

I don't see how you can really achieve something special unless you're actively working at having really high standards -- actively trying to be so good they can't ignore you.

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