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The first is about a play, a play about a dog. Well, it’s not really about a dog. It’s a about a boy. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time tells the story of Christopher, a 15 year old math-genius in a small town outside of London. Christopher has what I’ll call “significant social issues” bordering the line of Asperger’s. As the story develops, Christopher attempts to solve the murder of his neighbor’s dog, Wellington. The play premiered at the Royal National Theatre in August of 2012 where it received a recording-tying seven Olivier awards, including one for best play. After bouncing around to several different West End theaters, the show made it’s way across the pond and premiered in New York City, on Broadway in October, 2014 where it is currently receiving rave reviews from it’s audiences.
So that’s story number one. A British mystery play starring a socially awkward teenager takes Broadway by storm.
Story number two is about a boy. Well, a man really. A guy. Alex Sharp was born in 1989. He spent the first seven years of his life traveling around the world with his family in a caravan. Sharp traveled to Rome, South America, Indian reservations, and most of the United States before he even knew how to read. He returned to his native country, England, to attend grade-school before moving to the U.S. for college. Sharp went to Julliard where he studied acting. His small frame and young face often landed him the role of the son or the younger brother, and in May of 2014, Sharp graduated, entering the harsh world of auditioning. What was one of his first auditions? You guessed it, the role of Christopher Boone in the Broadway production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time.
In case it isn’t obvious, Alex got the role. And, for the record, he is fantastic in the show. I saw it just a few weeks ago.
So we’ve heard two stories. But what’s the story here? What’s so significant about Alex Sharp becoming Christopher Boone? It seems so simple. Go to a great acting school, you’ll become a great actor and book great roles in great plays. There may be some truth to this version of the story, but I think it’s far too simplified. There is a much more profound, and I think encouraging lesson that can be harvested from these two combined stories.
Now, did Alex Sharp go to a great drama school? Yes.
Did he work very hard to earn the role of Christopher? Most certainly.
Is Alex Sharp an extremely talented actor? You bet! There is no doubt that Alex’s hard work and commitment to his craft are currently paying off for him.
But what are the chances that just months, maybe weeks after graduating college, that the best part on Broadway would be a role that Alex Sharp was literally made to play? Alex Sharp could not be more perfect for Christopher Boone, and Christopher Boone could not be more perfect for Alex Sharp, and it just so happens that both of them arrived on Broadway within two months of each other. No amount of hard work or natural talent could make that happen.
Once again, Alex Sharp is extremely talented, and a guarantee you he works extremely hard. But there was a third factor that went into him getting picked, a factor that was completely out of his control. Timing.
I think that many of us, including myself, concern ourselves for too heavily with “getting picked”. We feel that if we don’t get the job, land the book agent, or get into that school, that we’ve totally failed.
If perhaps this is how you feel, here’s a slight change in perspective that may help. If we show up, do our best, and still don’t get picked, that’s not failure, that’s timing, and timing is something we have no control over. We can’t count it as a failure on our part because, assuming we showed up and did our best, then we didn’t do anything wrong. The result was just out of our control.
And that’s what we’re really looking for isn’t it? Control. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could control every outcome? The truth is though, we cannot control every outcome. Not even most. There are way too many factors contributing to the outcome that are completely out of our control, and timing is only one of them. If we spend our lives trying to control the timing to ensure that we “get picked”, not only will we drive ourselves crazy, but we will miss out on the opportunity to do work we are truly proud of.
So what do we do then?
Simply put, focus only on the things you can control.
-Commit to your work.
-Do your best.
If I can do these three things in a day, then that’s a successful day as far as I’m concerned.
And the beautiful thing is, when you commit and set your focus on these three things, you do better work, which actually increases your chances of getting picked when your Christopher Boone comes alone."