Today is June 24 and the Navigate the Chaos question to consider is “how often do you see the open door?” For those who have navigated the chaos and practiced the art of living well like Jerry Seinfeld and Sallie Krawcheck, they allowed themselves to see the open door when one was closed in their face. Like so many people who have found a way to succeed in life and work, these two examples demonstrate the necessity to take action and figure out a way forward instead of waiting for someone to open the door for them.
Comedian Jerry Seinfeld had a small role on the sitcom "Benson," but the producers did not like the way he was playing the part. They fired him after only three episodes yet never told him. He showed up for a read-through one day and found his part was missing.
He was humiliated, but he went right back to performing at comedy clubs. After one performance, a talent scout for the "Tonight Show" was in the audience. Seinfeld landed a gig on the show and his career immediately took off. He could have easily felt sorry for himself and stopped performing for a while. But he opened the only door available to him – stand-up comedy – and kept moving forward.
Sallie Krawcheck was one of the most recognizable women on Wall Street. But in 2008, during the height of the financial crisis, she was publicly fired from her position as Citigroup’s chief financial officer after she said that the firm had an obligation to pay back some of the money that their clients had lost because of its advice. Krawcheck believes that being a woman in a high-ranking leadership role led to her dismissal.
But she channeled that rejection into becoming a first-time entrepreneur and launched an investing platform for women called Ellevest. When one door closed, she found another one to open. In an interview with Entrepreneur magazine, Krawcheck noted “The biggest risk is not taking any career risk and we all need to be pushing ourselves in different directions, otherwise we risk having the world just pass us by.”
If you fail to see the open door, you risk having the world pass you by. Krawcheck could have easily been bitter. She had to navigate being publicly fired. Like so many people who have navigated the chaos, she not only allowed herself to see an open door when one closed, she built the door to open!
Two other people who kept looking for an open door were author Kathryn Stockett and screenwriter Tate Taylor. Both Stockett and Taylor needed to keep their eyes on open doors after so many were closed on them in the writing and creation of the 2009 bestselling book and movie The Help.
With a friendship that started in preschool, Stockett and Taylor survived the bumpy road to Hollywood success telling the story of relationships between black maids and their white employers in Mississippi in the 1960s, and of the three women who form an unlikely alliance in the name of social change.
Taylor was among the first to read the unpublished manuscript for The Help after Stockett left her advertising job in New York City to try her hand at fiction. He urged her to continue even as the book was rejected again and again — more than 60 times in all. Stockett spent five years working on' The Help, revising it every time it was rejected. She waited until she had a complete story and felt good about it before she gave it to Taylor.
He convinced Stockett to give him the film rights and immediately went to work on the screenplay. But with little experience, Hollywood shut one door after another in Taylor’s face as no one would agree to produce the film with an inexperienced director. He eventually turned to his friends and support system to find the right people to help produce the movie. The film, starring Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, and Bryce Dallas Howard, would go on to gross over $200 million and be nominated for dozens of awards.
Scottish-born inventor Alexander Graham Bell noted “when one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”
Stockett and Taylor had many doors closed on them along their journey to making The Help into a book and then a movie but they kept looking for the doors that were open for them. Do you?