The most unforeseen circumstances will swamp you and baffle the wisest calculations.
Only vitality and plenty of it helps you.
–WASHINGTON A. ROEBLING
Washington Roebling’s name may not be familiar to you. He’s not in the voice-over industry. In fact, he has nothing to do with voice-over or entertainment. However, I recently read about him and his monumental accomplishment, and his quote applies to anyone pursuing a big dream, including a career in voice-over.
You see, Washington Roebling was an engineer — not just any engineer, but the chief engineer behind the famous Brooklyn Bridge. I recently read David McCullough’s fascinating and extremely well-researched novel The Great Bridge, which describes the people, risks, relationships, political environment, and long processes involved to build that bridge. It’s the sort of sweeping, satisfying book that I would love to narrate, but these historical books are usually about men and therefore narrated by men in the audiobook. But I digress …
Part of the story that is so remarkable is that Roebling fell seriously ill and wasn’t even on-site during much of the construction, yet he pressed on until the Brooklyn Bridge was completed and his dream realized. With his wife’s admirable and steadfast assistance, Roebling wrote such an incredible collection of notes and designs that his assistant engineers were able to complete the work to his specifications without his supervision.
The on-line Merriam-Webster dictionary defines vitality as physical or mental vigor especially when highly developed. I can’t agree too much with Roebling’s assessment that vitality is necessary to accomplish anything of importance, especially a voice-over career. However, I would also add time to the equation.
Many people jump into voiceovers with the expectation that a lucrative and easy career awaits them. Unlike an engineer, they don’t study the landscape or make calculations about the best way to proceed. They may give up before achieving the level of success that they seek.
I have often heard that entertainers and sports stars who are considered to be an overnight success usually have been working diligently and learning their profession for 10 years or more. This passage in John Maxwell’s book Put Your Dreams to the Test: 10 Questions that Will Help You See It and Seize It better explains that theory:
I thought again about the time and energy needed to complete a dream while we watched Macy’s July 4th fireworks on the Hudson River. We were treated to a spectacular 30-minute show, but the tremendous planning and coordination, including the actual fireworks manufacture and testing, must have started as soon as the festivities were finished last year, or perhaps even earlier. I created a short video of some highlights from the fireworks and added music from my royalty-free library. I am posting the video here for your viewing pleasure.
Time and vitality have been necessary ingredients in my voice-over business since its inception. Like anyone, I have had and continue to have personal challenges, like the losses of my dad in 2003 and my mother just 2 months ago in May. In the past couple of weeks, Drew and I were shocked to learn that his position as a lead software engineer has been eliminated after 12 years of employment with his company, so we unexpectedly are starting a new chapter of our lives.
I don’t bring up my personal obstacles to gain your sympathy but to point out that vitality is needed to sustain the momentum in my voice-over career while time marches on. You may have noticed that even my blog entries lately required an unusual amount of time and energy to complete. Many days, I have to judge my progress on my voice-over dreams based on incremental forward movement. However, like Roebling and his bridge, I continue to focus on my vision of success, counting my blessings and victories as I go along.
What kind of correlation do you notice between time and energy in pursuing your voice-over goals? I’d love to hear from you with comments on the blog!