The Scott Shaw Blog Be Positive

Those Who Don’t Make It

I was thinking back to my days as a martial art school operator. The thought of two of my students came to mind. Both were advanced students and were very good practitioners; each in their own individual way.
One of the guys was smaller in statue but he was very good with his feet and with hand techniques. The other one was very tall. I’m guessing six foot six. He was kind of an interesting guy. Though I was teaching Hapkido and Taekwondo, which are both very formalized styles, when it would come time for him to spar, it was not uncommon for him to, if say a highly skilled Korean-born student was getting the better of him with his feet, to grab them, pick them up, and toss them to the ground. He was using the best of what he had: his height and his overall size. Of course, I would immediately step in and stop the match. I did that then; I would not do that now. He was doing MMA long before it had ever developed a name.
In any case, they were both red belts. So, they had been around for a while. They were about to test for the black belt when they both abruptly quit around the same time. Each for their own individual reason.
The Guardian Angels were just forming at this point in time. The one man went to join their ranks and he felt he didn’t have time to train. Every now and then he would stop by the studio with his fellow Guardian Angels, dressed in their red jackets and red berets, to say, “Hi,” and I guess to show off to the other students a little bit.
The other, very tall man, had just turned seventeen and he decided to drop out of high school and join the army. “I have to do my service for my country,” he explained. 
I could not fault either one of these men for the choices they made. They were both providing a very important service. My only thought, especially for the younger man was, he should just give it a little bit more time, finish high school, earn his black belt, and then move on to the army. The high school diploma and the black belt would be something he would have forever. But, they both left the school.
The one thing their individual choices did cause me to understand, way back then, is that it is generally the choices a person makes that keeps them from truly, “Making it,” in life. They were so close, yet they made a choice that would affect them forever.
Certainly, through my many years of experiences in the film industry, I have watched so many people be offered an opportunity to progress, but they throw it away.
Mostly, at least in the film game, I believe this is based in ego. Everyone imagines that they will be a star tomorrow. But, that happens for very-very few. Most go back to Kansas with their dreams smashed. They may be offered something, they be provided an opportunity, but for something developed only in their head, or by being poorly guided by someone else, they throw the chance away.
The thing is, the film game is just like pretty much everything else in life. You must start out a novice. You must take your blows. You may not like everything that is taking place around you, but sometimes you simply must bite your tongue to develop the skillset you need to move up.
I know I have reached out a hand of help to more than a few people, some have taken it and have moved up. Others have simply tried to bite the only hand that ever fed them. Why? Ask them. But, the one thing that is certain, in that bite, their career went no further.
It is like all of these people who write and speak about the film industry from afar. Maybe they do critiques or do reviews or do whatever… But, if they are not here, if they have not actually lived the game, they have no idea what they are speaking about. If they haven’t been here on the streets of Hollywood or New York or Mumbai, they have no true idea about the realities of the film industry. Yet, they talk. But, what they are saying is not based in lived truth and/or actual reality. Come out here, try to be an actor, try to be a filmmaker, give it a couple of years, and see how far you get. Only then will you possess a true understanding about what actually takes place.
The point being, the choices you make define what you will ultimate become in your life. You can talk all you want to. You can describe the SOMETHING you almost became. You can discuss the realities actually lived by sometimes else and pretend you know the facts. But, if you have not made the choice to BECOME all you are will forever be defined by is what you are not.