Be so good they can’t ignore you

steve martin

Today I’m recommending to you to choose to “be so good they can’t ignore you”, and to back that up by having people in your life, including mentors, that believe in you even more than you believe in yourself

“Be so good they can’t ignore you” ~ Steve Martin

Steve Martin is brilliant. If you don’t know his work, treat yourself to watching any of his brilliant movies across different genres, his sketch show work, his writing (and there is more, much more to him).

Today I’ll share a clip of him giving that famous piece of advice he has repeated over and over, then link to my own thoughts on the power of belief and being supported by those who believe in you.

Watch this 50-second clip from an interview in 2007. It may just change your life.

“When people ask me “how do you make it in showbusiness?”…what I always tell them, I’ve said it many years, and nobody ever takes note of it, because it’s not the answer they wanted to hear. What they want to hear is ‘Here’s how you get an agent, here’s how you write a script,’…but I always say, ‘Be so good they can’t ignore you.’….and, I just think that if somebody’s thinking, ‘How can I be really good?’ people are going to come to you. It’s much easier doing it that way than going to cocktail parties”

I was reminded of this advice the other day from a tweet by JK Rowling in response to a writer who asked her “what about the fear of being forgotten in the crowd?”

Now to that, let me talk about belief and the power of being supported.

If we are truly honest with ourselves, we all have fears around our value, our worth, imposter syndrome and more. We may struggle at times to believe in ourselves.

Following the advice of “be so good they can’t ignore you” takes self-belief, it takes commitment, it takes the ability to keep going when we are rejected, sometimes again and again.

You need to have truly strong belief in yourself to follow the path Steve Martin and JK Rowling advise, and to that, I would also say to make sure you get at least one or two mentors.

As to the attributes of those mentors, two thoughts.

First, just three days ago, in “Belief and Mentoring“, I wrote about finding a mentor who believes in you even more than you believe in yourself.

Second, a few days earlier, I wrote in “Are you in the arena getting your ass kicked?” :

“When we dare greatly, we may often feel nervous, even scared as we take risks. We may reach out for feedback or advice, we may also likely be given unsolicited feedback and advice from, depending on where we are daring greatly, colleagues, friends, family.

All too often those who are giving feedback and advice are “armchair warriors”, they are speaking from the sidelines, they are not “in the arena”.

So, I love the liberating thought from Brené Brown, and if we do receive feedback or advice, I agree with her to focus on getting this from people who are or have been in the arena.

Theory and qualifications are great, but have they been there, have they risked like you are risking? If they haven’t, they can only partly understand, they can only partly empathise.

Always ask a teacher, coach, consultant what experience they have “in the arena”. All well and good having consulting tools and methodology to help you with your leadership and business, same for doing an MBA or other academic training. However, I recommend you to aim higher. Find someone with those tools to share with you AND who also have been “in the arena” and dared greatly themselves.

So, in closing, choose to “be so good they can’t ignore you”, and back that up by having people in your life, including mentors, that believe in you even more than you believe in yourself.


Also published on Medium.

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