Story of a Naive Optimist – Part 2 (Goals)

As cheesy as it sounds in these cynical times, having a goal is essential if you’re ever going to get anywhere. I often ask people what their goal or ambition is in life. This is often met with “dunno” or more commonly a reluctance to admit what their goal is in case someone overhears them and laughs, or more accurately because not even they believe that they can achieve their own dreams. Such is the reality of the apathy so prevalent in so many adults.A life coach I met once told me a neat little trick for those who don’t know what they want to do with their lives. Get a piece of paper, draw a line down the middle, on one side list all the things you don’t like about your life, then once you’re done, on the opposite side write the opposite of all the undesirable qualities you’ve just listed. Hey presto! You now have a list of things to aim for! If however, you are too fearful to admit you have a dream and share it with anyone, such a fear will remain. A little trick I’ve employed is something I learnt from watching the character Gai Sensei from the anime; Naruto. He once said something to the effect of “Handcuff yourself to success” whilst challenging someone in athletic competition. I interpreted it as this – By telling everyone you come into contact with what your dream or ambition is, you are handcuffed to succeeding in your endeavour because often enough the fear of failure  is outweighed by the fear of looking like someone who never makes the effort on their intentions. Sure, you will fail in attempting to pursue your endeavours, but by telling everyone you know what you intend to achieve, you’ll be more compelled to get back up and try again and again until you succeed. The fear of failure is outweighed by the awe of respect people will give you for achieving your dreams, and furthermore you will inspire them.We all have dreams, desires, and ambitions. Even totally selfless types like Gandhi and Mother Teresa, they wished for peace and to alleviate suffering from humanity, these are all still valid goals anyone can possess for themselves to contribute towards and achieve.So, what are your goals?We all have more than one, be it health, wealth, career, love, spiritual etc. When you can write down what your specific goals are, you can get to work. Having a goal gives you focus, a clear idea of what you’re aiming for allows you focus your skills and resources in the direction of where you want to go. If you don’t know what you’re aiming for, you just might land somewhere you don’t want to be. An unfortunate reality of this world is that those who don’t know what they want for themselves will often be manipulated into someone else’s plan to work for them in return for a relative pittance.Not only did I dream that I would become a professional comedian, my explicit goal was to play the world famous Comedy Store in London. I was a teenager when I first saw the Comedy Store TV show on late night cable TV, I had no idea that such an environment existed or that such a vocation had a home, but in that midnight hour, a TV show had changed my life. I watched the likes of; Terry Alderton and Adam Bloom (whom now are my mates and peers) make the room erupt with laughter, I watched them and thought to myself “I want to do that”. The dream had begun, I was going to become a comedian. However, I had no idea where to start or who to contact. Furthermore, wasn’t I chasing an initial dream to become a Video Games Designer?Terry Alderton; Comedy hero and world record holder of the most consecutive encores at the Comedy Store,.Fast forward a bit, my career in video games hadn’t turned out as planned. The corporate environment of that business was not open to the creative ambitions of a kid with no programming qualifications, although I had a clear goal of working for Nintendo one day, I had no strategy (see part 3) and so my dreams of developing the next Super Mario game disappeared in one of the many disciplinary letters I received for being three minutes late at the battery farm chicken coop video game quality assurance departments I ended up working in. Depressed and broke, I realised that I had to sort my life out, and having experienced the intermittent joys of being an open mic comic and the inherent immediacy of the creative freedoms that come with being a stand-up, I jumped ship and committed myself to becoming a stand-up comedian with my milestone goal to one day play the Comedy Store.Adam Bloom; Comedy hero and mentor.I built my set minute by minute over years, I would turn down offers to do ten minutes spots because admittedly at the time I only had eight minutes worth of material. This honesty won me trust with promoters, it turns out such honesty is a rarity in this business. Over a number of years I performed over ten open spots (trials) at the Comedy Store. Sometimes I would have awesome gigs, sometimes I would get away with it, sometimes I would have bad ones, but I never managed to prove myself as reliable or seasoned enough to be considered for a professional role. It broke my heart, and sometimes I would take the night bus home after an open spot at the late show, thinking to myself that I would never become good enough for the Comedy Store. Even after I became a professional comic, performing full time at clubs around the country, even abroad and making a living out of this new vocation, I was still not a professional comic at the Comedy Store and I knew that I would never feel satisfied until I had made it there. I still wasn’t good enough, I had to find a way to get even better, fine tune my skills and grow as a comic. I sought advice from the seasoned pros, learned to compere from the best hosts in the country, and received critical mentoring from Adam Bloom. I made that effort to become better because I had a goal; to play the Comedy Store, the home of my comedy dream.Without that goal fixed firmly in my heart, I would never have made the effort and thus the progress as a comic. These days you can see me at the Comedy Store in London, Manchester and in Mumbai. Not only doing sets, but hosting as well, and as a guest with London’s Cutting Edge team, who’ve taken me under their wing. Now, I get to work with all my comedy heroes and also learn from them, benefiting from their experience and tutelage as I work towards my next goal; to become bigger than Chris Rock“If that Imran Yusuf comes anywhere near me, I will drop kick a mofo!”By the way, that video game dream isn’t dead either… stay tuned…

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