Michael Caine is one of my favourite actors.
He’s made some great films: Zulu, The Ipcress File, The Man Who Would Be King.
In fact he’s even got Jude Law, Sylvester, Stallone and Mark Wahlberg doing his advertising for him.
(Just compare what they did in the remakes of Alfie, Get Carter, and The Italian Job with what Caine did in the originals.)
He’s also won two Oscars.
But more than that he’s been nominated six times.
Every decade since he started in the 1960s.
So we remember him as a great actor with a great body of work to back it up.
But what we don’t remember is the bad stuff.
He made over a hundred films that you wouldn’t want on your CV.
Things like ‘The Swarm’, and ‘Jaws -The Revenge’, and worse.
So, is he a bad actor?
No, because you’re judged by your best stuff not your worst.
Michael Caine did pretty much everything he was offered.
He waited a long time for a break, so when it came he did all the work he could get his hands on.
He wanted to make the most of the opportunity.
And, interestingly, when we think like that, another thing happens.
We stop being precious.
Because, the more we do, the more we can afford to get wrong.
The more we can experiment.
Whereas if we’re only doing one thing we can’t afford to screw it up.
So we don’t take any chances.
And the best we can do is a competent job.
But when we’re doing lots of things we can take more chances.
The risks are smaller, the chances of success are bigger.
So we’ll do more bad stuff.
But we’ve got much more chance of doing good stuff.
And people remember the good stuff much more than the bad stuff.
So that’s what we should be doing.
Grabbing everything we possibly can to work on.
Don’t just work on one brief at a time and spend all our time worrying about it.
Get as many things going as we can.
The more horses we have in the race, the more chance we have of winning.
Of course lots of our horses will lose.
But everyone only remembers the winner.
That’s how Richard Branson does it.
He says, at Virgin, they have lots of crazy ideas all the time.
He can’t tell which one is going to make it.
Which is going to be the great idea.
So what he does, is green light them all.
Most of them will fail.
But at least one will succeed really big.
And that one will pay many, many times over for the failures.
And everyone remembers him for the massive successes.
No one remembers the failures.
Churchill was the same.
Much of his life was about trying everything and failing.
He was in charge of the invasion of Gallipoli.
It was a massive blunder.
He was in charge of The General Strike.
That was such a failure he was in the political wilderness for years afterward.
In 1939 he wanted to invade Norway.
In 1940 he wanted to drop poison gas on Germany.
In 1941 he nearly lost North Africa by shipping the troops to Crete.
But none of those things are what he’s remembered for.
Everyone remembers the good stuff and forgets the bad.
Think of that.
You can concentrate all your effort on one project.
And if it goes wrong you’re stuffed.
Or you can work on everything you can get your hands on.
And you can afford a few to go wrong.
The pressure’s off.
Now you can be more creative.
You can enjoy it. Have fun. Lighten up.
Then you’ve got more chances of doing something great.
As they say in New York, “You’ve got to kiss a lot of frogs if you want to find a prince.”