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The entire Navigate the Chaos collection of all 365 blog posts is now available in a paperback entitled Navigate the Chaos (795 pages for $24.99). A smaller collection of thoughts from the Navigate the Chaos collection is available in paperback entitled Wonder (94 pages for $4.99)

How often do you remind yourself to keep going?

Today is March 2 and the Navigate the Chaos question to consider is “how often do you remind yourself to keep going?” American singer and songwriter Rachel Platten and actor Jenna Fischer are two women who reminded themselves to keep going after years of rejection.

An international relations major at Trinity College, Platten did an internship in Trinidad at a diplomat's office and at a record label. While she was there, she sang backup for a friend's band in front of over 80,000 people at the International Soca Monarch finals in 2002. According to Platten, from that moment on she knew she had to pursue music full-time. Upon graduating college, she moved to New York City's Greenwich Village where she played in the local music scene. She performed her solo music around the Village and eventually began touring the country.

After 12 years of grinding and releasing two albums independently in 2003 and 2011 she signed with Columbia Records in 2015 and released her debut single, Fight Song, which peaked at number 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States, topped charts in the United Kingdom and peaked within the top ten of multiple charts worldwide. Platten proclaimed her ability to keep going and sang:

This is my fight song

Take back my life song

Prove I'm alright song

My power's turned on

Starting right now I'll be strong

I'll play my fight song

And I don't really care if nobody else believes

'Cause I've still got a lot of fight left in me

Platten won a Daytime Emmy Award for a live performance of the song on Good Morning America. Her major-label debut studio album, Wildfire (2016), was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and featured the follow-up singles Stand by You and Better Place. Her second major-label album, Waves (2017), peaked at number 73 in the United States of America.

As Platten said “This has felt like a complete fairy tale. But a fairy tale that is 12 years in the making. I grinded and worked so hard for so long and got to the point of… I didn’t think it was going to happen. I thought I might need to figure something else out. That moment bred Fight Song. So that song came because I had to make a decision, ‘Am I going to keep going or am I going to give up on myself?’” Actor Jenna Fischer also learned to keep going in her pursuit of a television career.

Jenna Fischer, the Emmy-nominated star who brought Pam Beesly to life on the NBC comedy The Office, had to remind herself to keep going over eight grueling years and plenty of rejection before she landed a part on the hit show that would go on to air for nine seasons.

In her book, The Actor’s Life: A Survival Guide, Fischer details the highs (crashing an SNL party) and lows (riding a Jurassic Park water ride for 12 hours straight as an extra) of her journey to becoming a fan-favorite on a network television show. In 1996, she said goodbye to her hometown in Missouri, where she was raised by her father, a plastics engineer, and her mother, a teacher.

But she endured six years of “small successes, followed by heaps of rejection,” while accumulating debt and living in crappy apartments; she describes one as a “cave,” furnished with cardboard nightstands that were so depressing her cat licked out patches of his fur. Fischer joked that her book could have been titled Struggle, Struggle, Cry, Think-You-Should-Give-Up, Work, Repeat. A summary of her early career includes the following ‘small successes.’

While attending college at Truman State University in Missouri, Fischer performed with a touring Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre group. Upon her move to Los Angeles in 1998, Fischer began performing Commedia dell'arte with the Zoo District Theatre Company. She was noticed by a talent agent because of her appearance in a musical theater adaptation of the film Nosferatu with Zoo District Theatre Company.

This led to her signing a contract with that agent. Fischer struggled to break into film and television. Her first paying film role was a sex education video for psychiatric patients upon their release from Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. Three years elapsed from the time she arrived in California until Fischer landed her first televised speaking role. She played the part of a waitress on the television sitcom Spin City in 2001.

It would be another four years before Fischer auditioned for The Office. Both Platten and Fischer reminded themselves to keep going despite one setback, rejection, or hardship after another. Navigating the chaos and translating one dream into another is going to test your endurance.

  • Can you endure 10 years of small successes?

  • What are you doing to maintain the energy your will need for such a long-haul?

  • How often do you remind yourself to keep going?

  • Do you surround yourself with people who will encourage you to keep going?


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