James Cameron on Perseverance

Whether you love or hate James Cameron, you can’t deny he’s found wild success as a top Hollywood Writer-Director. The acclaimed James Cameron — the man with the two highest grossing films of all time — wasn’t always as big of a deal. At the beginning of his career, he had a very unrelated blue-collar job; he was a truck driver.

James originally went to school for physics, later switching to English and eventually dropping out to pursue his career in film. To get by, he drove trucks. He wasn’t just settling with what life handed him though. He was making money to survive while he invested all extra time into being the best screenwriter he could be. That was the only way he’d be successful.

As a truck driver, he would spend the time on the road thinking of screenplay ideas. If he stumbled upon a really great idea, he’d pull over and write it down. When he wasn’t working, he was trying to advance his own knowledge thus making him more skilled and employable:

“I’d go down to the USC library and pull any thesis that graduate students had written about optical printing, or front screen projection, or dye transfers, anything that related to film technology. That way I could sit down and read it, and if they’d let me photocopy it, I would. If not, I’d make notes.”

You may be working a job that doesn’t stimulate you at all, but you’re ‘getting by’ while you work towards something greater. You may be a grocery store clerk paying for school while you work and unpaid internship in your dream field. Maybe you’re lucky enough to have a wonderful job that others would be grateful for, but it’s just not what you wish you were doing for the rest of your life. You’re not failing.

You may feel like what you’re doing is meaningless for your future, but it’s not. The key is not to see it as you falling short of your goals. You need to be like James Cameron and see it as you doing what you have to now so that you can do what you want to later. Don’t settle.

As long as you’re moving a little in the right direction all the time or on the side, you will reach your equivalent of a box-office smash.