The Blueprint

In a world of self-help gurus and life coaches, we put too much importance on the blueprint and not enough on the work. 

One of the inarguable things I’ve learned in my twenty years in entertainment is that you cannot get out of putting in the time.  I used to believe that with the right instructions, you could hack your way to the front of the line, believing that simple emulation would be enough. Take a Masterclass this week, write like Neil Gaiman the next.

There is nothing new under the sun, right?  Some wise old Bible king said that, though he was only partially correct. Science has proven that matter can neither be created nor destroyed, so sure, what’s here is here and that’s it, universally speaking.

But if that’s all it takes – just organizing things the right way – then we should be able to do everything now! In fact, why did it take us so long in the first place? 

Think back to the cavemen, whatever that word means to you. I’m guessing some hairy dude with a couple of sticks and hunger pangs.  Why did it take him so long to make it from the Great Rift Valley, through Europe, and across the land bridge into North America?  Realistically, he could have driven.  Everything he needed to make a car was already there, from the raw elements needed to manufacture steel to the fossil fuel needed for gasoline.

He could have built a factory full of car-building robots and a series of gas stations along the way.  Sure he still needed tools to build those things, but he could have made the tools too.  He just needed to go through the progression of ideas in his mind, right?

Of course that’s not right.

But why not?

You could argue it’s because the progress we make is in answer to the needs of our time, and that the caveman didn’t need to go to the moon so he never tried to. I prefer to believe that some systems involve innate waiting periods, things like fermentation and muscle memory, and they are amazing because they prevent everybody from joining the creation process.

Little evolutionary pinchpoints.

Knowing is not enough. We have to chisel away at Gladwell’s 10,000 hours.  Simply understanding how muscles break down and rebuild will not make your pecs bigger.  You have to punish them mercilessly and then wait for them to come back bigger and stronger. 

You can’t write a book in a day. You can’t get the body you want in a week.  It takes more than a month’s worth of podcasting to build an audience, and the more quickly we accept that, the more quickly we can get on our way.

We need more than a blueprint; we need to put in the time.

So yes, study the greats and learn the ins-and-outs, but know that all the good stuff doesn’t show up until you’re much further down the path. If we want trivial stuff like time travel or teleportation or those little meals in a pill like in the 5th Element, (or *gasp* the more vital things like screenplays, novels, or one-woman shows) we better start experimenting today.

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