Evan Farmer, TV personality and voice actor, was host of TLC's hit show, "While You Were Out" for four seasons.
DRIVE ... PASSION ... DESIRE ...
What Fuels Your Creative Fire?
By Evan Farmer
TV Personality & Voice Actor
©2009 Evan Farmer / June 9, 2009
"The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated."
It would be impossible to determine for sure, but it's not likely that anybody is born with more Drive than anyone else.
Almost everyone can crawl by six months, almost everyone walks by age 1, and almost everyone talks by age 1.
No baby in history (as far as we know) ever just gave up trying to walk after a few tries, and no parent in history ever expects them to.
And yet, after these basic landmarks of development are achieved, the expectations mysteriously change.
Some continue to grow and achieve at a high and somewhat predictable rate, while others simply settle into mediocrity.
So what’s the difference?
NURTURE THE DRIVE
In the grand scheme of nature vs. nurture, it’s easy to deduce that if we’re born driven, then the missing variable must be nurture.
Some people simply get the seed of Drive planted in them and it gets nurtured while it grows, while others don’t.
The good news is that regardless of how we were raised, it’s never too late to add a little “Miracle Grow” to our stalk. It may just require a little more focused effort to find later on.
NEVER SAY NEVER
Not only can it be done, but there are millions of impressive examples. In fact, some of the greatest success stories of our time were Late Bloomers.
Chris Gardner, the subject of the biographical film, The Pursuit of Happyness, starring Will Smith, was a homeless x-ray machine salesman and single father who managed to win a prestigious position at Dean Witter, beating out far more educated and much younger candidates in order to better provide for his son.
Colonel Sanders didn’t even begin Kentucky Fried Chicken until he was 65 years old, when he discovered his Social Security payments wouldn’t support his retirement.
Julia Child didn’t publish her first book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, until she was 49, and didn’t appear on TV until she was in her early 50s.
Drive is probably the only variable to success that cannot be easily learned or taught.
It is also one of the largest - if not the largest - variable that will most determine your success in any field, and particularly in entertainment.
One of the biggest assets you can have for getting through the rejection, the exhaustion of 18 hour days, the sleepless nights and agonizing self doubts of this business will be an unbridled drive to do what you love.
If you were to poll the top 500 uber-sucesses of our time, I would venture that Drive - fueled by a fierce passion or desire - would be what every single one of them would credit for their success.
Of the hundreds of biographies I’ve read, this has always been the case. Renowned experts in every field have written untold sums of material espousing the fact that a drive to succeed is the #1 common denominator of realized success.
PASSION TO SUCCEED
The million-dollar question is: Where does it come from?
What made Daniel "Rudy" Ruettiger, a diminutive semi-talented football player fight like hell against all odds to play football for Notre Dame, one of the most talented teams of the time?
What turned Samuel L. Jackson away from homelessness and a severe drug addiction to become the star he is today?
What kept Harrison Ford auditioning for over 10 years without a break, all the while supporting himself with side carpentry jobs?
For each one of them the answer is different. But also for each, the drive and the passionate desire to succeed is what got them to where they are now.
FUEL THE DRIVE
So the question is: What moves you? What motivates you and keeps you motivated?
For myself, the answer to this question pretty much explains my uniquely diverse career.
From an early age, I’ve had a burning need to “prove” that I could do things. I never felt like I was naturally endowed with any abilities, except one: I knew that I could outwork just about anyone.
At the age of nine I felt compelled to “prove” that I could be a great tennis player so … I would go down into the basement and hit the ball repeatedly against the wall for six or more hours at a time, for many weeks in a row until I could beat the adults whose approval I craved.
I sought good grades in high school and college simply to “prove” that I was smart.
SET MY GOALS
The list of goals I first wrote down while in college was, in hindsight, simply a list of things that, at the time, I felt would “prove” my abilities in entertainment.
I never wanted anyone to simply think I was gifted or, God forbid “lucky.” I wanted them to know I that I had mastered something - and more importantly, to know that I earned it.
That was, and has almost always been, my driving motivation. It has fueled my passion.
ON TO THE NEXT ONE ...
It also explains in part why I tend to move on to a new career after I’ve “proven” my success in the previous one.
In other words, once I’ve achieved a given goal of showing myself and others that I can do something, I no longer have a burning desire to do it.
For instance, I have a wallet full of licenses that “prove” that I can:
I’m driven to acquire skills that can be documented. Whether or not it has been the healthiest motivation in some respects is, of course, up for debate.
But it no doubt has been a powerful motivator that has allowed me to achieve levels of success in many disciplines.
SATISFIES YOUR NEED
Biographies of the uber-successful include admissions of being driven by anger, desperation, ego, money, fame, fear, social injustice, pride, guilt, shame, revenge, sex (thank you Freud), feelings of ineptness, and the list goes on.
For the purpose of succeeding, there is no wrong or right motivation, passion, or desire that promotes Drive - unless, of course, it brings with it destructive side effects.
But even an internal obsession or dark emotion, if kept in check, can provide strong results without hurting anyone.
A drive simply stems from the human need to resolve an unsatisfied need. It doesn’t even have to be directly related to the thing you’re trying to achieve. And over time it may even change. It just needs to be powerful.
ROUTE CAN CHANGE
Today my drive is more firmly rooted in the desire to be a role model for my son, and to be a provider for my family in a way that will teach my son to one day provide for his.
Writing this book and lecturing, for me, is part of that.
The result is a slight shift from specific entertainment goals to focus on the production and education side of entertainment - and to larger philanthropic goals, which make use of my recognition as a TV personality.
My earlier goal of “Being recognized for artistic achievements by many” has changed to “Being recognized as a positive influence by those close to me.”
Perhaps more importantly though, I just want to see if I can measurably improve the lives of people in general.
DIG INTO DESIRE
There are many tremendous resources to help you tap into your own personal drive.
The bottom line is that tapping your deep Desire will be the most personal exercise to creating your path to success in entertainment.
It won’t work to try to adopt someone else’s motivations. And no one else will ever be able to motivate you – you have to bring this one to the party yourself:
START THE ENGINE
For some, this may be easy. For some others, it requires deep searching.
But it's a necessary step in the entertainment formula - the engine that will get you to the end goal.
Whether your voice acting goal is to become a character(s) in cartoons as I did, or to be the voice of Clorox Bleach - it's all an art, it's all a business, and your ability to realize that goal is all about Drive, Passion and Desire!
Evan Farmer is perhaps best known for hosting TLC's hit show, While You Were Out for four seasons. He also portrayed "Jerry O'Keefe," the central character in MTV's first made-for-TV movie about the spoof boy-band 2GE+HER, also recording lead vocals on the soundtrack and follow-up platinum album. Beginning his acting career at age 8, he has appeared in many movies, TV shows and stage productions, hosted shows for networks including VH1, E!, WE and HGTV, and has been heard as the voice of several characters on MTV's Daria and Celebrity Deathmatch.
Internet Movie Database: www.imdb.com/name/nm0267745/filmogenre
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