So I was watching the Olympics the other day and this ad came on – “Gold, it’s in us all, but some have the courage to dig it out.” Dick’s Sporting Goods
Wow. I couldn’t believe it. On national television, in between Olympic events, Dick’s Sporting Goods was telling me that I too have gold in me, I’m just afraid to dig it out. Great, I thought, maybe I WILL finally dig out my gold. But what event would I win? Swimming? Now that there are a couple of spots on the U.S. team? Don’t think so. Archery? Not really. Chess? Wait, that’s not a sport.
Oh, maybe Dick meant that I have metaphoric gold in me. Like I could be the best actor in the world. Hmmmm…But what would happen if all the other actors also took up the Dick challenge and mustered the courage to dig out their personal gold? We would all be THE BEST ACTORS. Oscars for everyone!
Here’s the uncomfortable truth behind Dick’s unpalatable lie: we were all created equal, but not in our abilities. We were created equal in our right to pursue the thing we love and make the most of what we were given. But not equal in our innate ability to perform. I realize this proposition is anathema to a culture where children get trophies for just showing up, but think about it – I could play tennis all day, every day, for the rest of my life but I will never be Roger Federer, no matter how much I excavate my dormant courage. And that’s a fact – to believe otherwise would be egomaniacal and just plain silly.
So what do we do if we don’t all have gold in us? A lot. Instead of staying small, playing it safe, and taking comfort in the fantasy that we don’t have to actually do anything that may prove we’re less than golden, we can just do the work. We can learn a job, a skill, or in the case of acting, a CRAFT. For it is the journeyman actor who worries about her innate genius, the pro gets on with it, gets paid for it, and repeats. And over time she will realize that what’s been golden all along has been the quality of her effort, and that will be enough.