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Everybody knows show business has less to do with talent and more to do with the connections you make and the ones you can use to your advantage. However, when I suggest that it’s all about who you know, I mean—when it comes to life in general. Who you know, and who you surround yourself with, will effect the quality of your life and your work.
If you surround yourself with people who are chaotic, angry, shallow and unpleasant, you will live a life that is chaotic, angry, shallow and unpleasant. If you surround yourself with people who are centered, mature, and full of inspiration, you will live a life that is centered, mature, and full of inspiration.
After leaving CalArts, I surrounded myself with people who were very dramatic, very catty, and sometimes incredibly bitchy and shallow. I also had friends who were centered, calm, and interested in visiting about the bigger picture. I didn’t know it at the time, but what was happening was this: when I was around those creative artists, I too felt inspired to create. And when I went out to dinner with the shallow and superficial person, I experienced the world as she saw it. It was a miserable friendship and I didn’t even know it!
The great actor Michael Caine once said, when asked about the secret of his success and long career, he answered: “I have a policy. I never listen to anyone explain why they can’t do something. I don’t want to be convinced by them.”
It is true that other people’s beliefs and behaviors impact each of us. How many people are in your life that drive you crazy? Do you have people in your life that inspire you? Who are they? How often do you seek to be around people who enrich your life, instead of take away from it?
Sure, some troubled people might be “going through a phase.” That’s fine. But ask yourself: how does their “phase” influence you? Is it better to remove yourself from their sphere, so you can live your life on YOUR terms, or is it better to live your life in theirs? Sure, some troubled people are good people deep down, and with the help of therapy and deep introspection on their part, they might be able to grow out of it. But, ask yourself: how many days and years of your life will you waste being swallowed up by their troubles?
It’s taken me years to figure this out, but now I have a great group of friends. We support each other emotionally and inspire each other creatively. There is no room in my life for the shallow, the superficial, or the melodrama created by people who are insecure, catty or generally troubled. So when I come into contact with those types of people, I remember to get them out before it’s too late.
Why am I successful? Why am I inspired to create? Why am I stress free? Why are my movie sets organized and calm? Why is life and work full of joy and freedom? Do you want the same kind of life? If so, the secret is out: it’s all who you know.