As a teenager, I hoped to be discovered.
“My big break will come, don’t you worry.”
I joined a modeling agency and took acting classes. My aim was to fly to Hollywood when I was old enough to act alongside Keanu Reeves and never return home to Aussie land.
Spoiler: The dream didn’t happen.
99% of people never get a lucky break. And the ones that do wish they never got one at all.
Why people want to be discovered and get a lucky break
Writers are the worst offenders of lucky break syndrome.
They love to romanticize about writing novels and making a living off their words. They think a book publisher will choose them and then all they need to do is write, as if they’re JK Rowling.
When I analyze why they think this way it comes down to this hidden truth: they hope to skip the hard work. They don’t want to endure struggles.
A lucky break is their answer. It’s not logical, it’s emotional.
Emotions blind us from the truth and put us into fantasy land to hide the pain and protect our fragile egos.
What’s weird is struggles and hard work are what make eventual earned success feel phenomenal.
Don’t wait for things to happen
Mike Myers left Canada for the UK early in his career.
His goal was to be a comedian. On arrival to London he struggled to get jobs. Because no one would hire him he hired himself.
Mike formed a comedy group. They traveled around doing performances. The small crowds they got loved their work. At one show an audience member and tourist named Pam Thomas saw his act.
She loved it.
When she returned home to New York she told Lorne Michaels about Mike. “You gotta check this guy out!”
In an interview Mike reflected on his career, from the early days until now. Whether it was Wayne’s World or his smash hit movie series Austin Powers, one pattern emerged:
Progress happened whenever he gave up the stupid idea of being discovered.
He found if he just did the work and focused on quality comedy, the opportunities would take care of themselves — and they did.
Don’t wait to be hired. Hire yourself.
If you are “discovered” you will be exploited
There’s a darker side to this “being discovered” romantic idea.
If you’ve read as many biographies of famous people as I have, especially in the pre-internet era when gatekeepers ruled the world, you’ll know that those who have the power to discover you often exploit you.
Marilyn Monroe got taken advantage of. Almost any singer you can name has signed some record contract where they got a raw deal and had to do all the work, including touring.
In the sports industry, Michael Jordan was the first person to get a fair sneaker deal where he got a cut of the shoe profits. Before then players made all this merchandise and got peanuts for it.
Traditional gatekeepers can discover you but in return for their golden handshake you’ll give away your power and money to them.
Nothing in life is free after all.
That’s why it’s better to be self-made. It’s better to discover yourself.
The permissionless economy now exists
In the “waiting to be discovered economy” you have to:
- Spend 6-figures on a college degree and give up 4 years of life
- Apply for jobs and feel like a piece of trash
- Pray for a pay rise when inflation hurts
- Wait for a boss to pick you
- Beg social media apps to give your account back if they ban you
The internet leveled the playing field. It stopped the waiting-to-be-discovered joke from occurring.
The internet connects anyone and everyone. You’re one email or DM away from reaching anybody.
Those who succeed in this new way of living are proactive and prioritize execution. They don’t wait for things to happen because they know that’s how one goes broke.
The skills they’re missing can be learned. People who’ve done what they hope to achieve are publicly available. They offer books, events, and endless social media feeds of every strategy you could want to know.
The permissionless economy has taken over. You don’t ask, you do. You write your own damn permission slip.
If you keep waiting time could run out and it could be the end of your life. Stop waiting to be discovered.
You have talent. You have value. All you have to do is use it.
Practice in public. Publish. Perform. Record. Speak your mind. Stand up for what’s right. Create a mission and bring others with you. Find meaning in your passions and hobbies.
Bring the energy. Bring the ideas. Dare to think you were born for greatness. This way of thinking will get you much further than the waiting-to-be-discovered nightmare that ends in exploitation and manipulation.