Amy Poehler on Being Ready Take chances. Make mistakes. Get messy.

Amy Poehler is serious about her comedy.

That may sound like an oxymoron but it’s true. Being funny is, well, fun, but doing it as a career is no easy task. And being Amy is probably equivalent to climbing Kilimanjaro.

Amy Poehler is a Golden Globe winning actress for her starring role in Parks and Recreation AND an executive producer for the Comedy Central show Broad City AND a beloved SNL alumni AND the co-founder of both the Upright Citizens Brigade and the website Smart Girls at the Party AND a loving mother of two boys.

Exhausted yet? Because I’m out of breath just writing that sentence.

Amy is at the top of her game and shows no signs of slowing down. She even managed to pop out a bestseller in the midst of all of her other projects. Which of course begs the quintessential question: how does she do it all?

The answer: she just does.

“You do it because the doing of it is the thing. The doing is the thing. The talking and worrying and thinking is not the thing. That is what I know.”

This is just one of the many nuggets of wisdom Amy bestows upon us in her newly released memoir Yes Please. It’s simple advice, but it’s not always easy to follow.

A lot of people, especially creative types, struggle with perfectionism. You can’t write without the perfect setting or you have folders filled with drafts and unfinished scripts. You confide in your friends about your dreams to be an author someday, or maybe an artist, or an entrepreneur. But those drafts, those dreams; they’re not the thing. Finishing the script, starting the business, that’s the thing. That’s how you achieve success.

Amy suggests you “treat your career like a bad boyfriend.”

“[Your career] likes it when you don’t depend on it. It will chase you if you act like other things (passion, friendship, family, longevity) are more important to you.”

In other words, don’t think about your career. Focus on what you love, what lights you up, what fuels you creatively. And do it now.

Amy Poehler didn’t get to where she is today by hoping and wishing and praying. She worked at it every day. She worked as a waitress in Chicago to pay for performance spaces for her improv troupe. She took classes and took notes and wrote comedy sketches into the wee hours. She took risks. And when she reached the point in her career where her face was all over billboards and city buses, she wasn’t surprised, because her whole adult life had been spent working towards that very moment.

“You have to care about your work but not about the result. You have to care about how good you are and how good you feel, but not about how good people think you are or how good people think you look…”

If you’re afraid to take a risk because you’re scared of what your peers might say, or because you can’t seem to silence that little nagging voice in the back of your head that says you’re not good enough or you’re not ready, take some comfort in the fact that you’ll never be ready. You’ll always be a little scared; the very definition of a risk is something that’s dangerous in some way.

But you know what?

“Great people do things before they’re ready.”

Learn More:

For more of Amy’s wise words, read her memoir Yes Please.


Image Credit: Maclean’s

Jasmine Williams

Jasmine Williams

Jasmine Williams is the editor of Year One. She is also a freelance writer/editor currently pursuing her Master’s in Media Production at Ryerson University. She has a Bachelor of Journalism from Carleton University and is the co-founder and former editor-in-chief of online lifestyle website Her Campus Carleton. Her main writing interests are pop culture, entertainment, and health. And she makes a mean cilantro pesto.