James Francis Cameron holds the distinction of both writing and directing three out of the four highest-grossing movies in history: Avatar, Avatar: The Way of Water, and Titanic.
However, before he became a successful and renowned filmmaker and director, he was a truck driver. His journey into the film industry isn’t a conventional one. He self-taught himself in the art of filmmaking. On weekends he would go to the library of the University of Southern California and read any thesis related to film technology written by graduate students
He spent about $120 on photocopies and came up with his own enormous-sized binder that had the details in the arts of filmmaking.
He stated, “I didn’t have to enrol in school because it was all there in the library. I’d set it up to go in like I was on a tactical mission, find out what I needed to know, and take it all home.”
This article is written based on the following Twitter post. The post has gained 7.8 million views as of this day and there are several lessons which we can learn from his journey.
Lesson #1: Follow What Excites You
“People seek out the information and knowledge they need,” he said. “It’s like a divining rod. You’ve got to read,” Campbell said. “Find [what] excites you. And if it doesn’t excite you…It’s not yours.”
In other words: follow what makes your heart sing.
Lesson #2: 1,2,3 and action!
Once you are done with all your research, the next step is just to do it. He compared this to the practice of a doctor. He said, “It was a bit like a doctor doing his first appendectomy after having only read about it.”
There is no other way around success. You have got to do the real thing.
Lesson #3: Experience Is The Best Teacher
Once you have done all the work and practice, you will soon realise the parts you have to improve and improvise. Why improvise? Well, it’s because you have gained wisdom through failure.
Here, persistence plays a key role. When you fail and you try again you will soon realise that failure is not the end of the road. Sometimes you have to pave your way probably in a different manner before you can get to your destination.
Upon reading this, I realised two things. One, reading is key. I always hear people around me say, “I hate reading. It’s boring” or “reading is the best way to make me fall asleep”. Although true for them, it’s also the cheapest way to succeed. I see the act of reading the same way a computer works. You download new information into your brain and voila! You just got a new software in you.
The second thing I learned is that you have to have grit. I have seen this a lot in my students. Those who have grit are highly unlikely to become dropouts. Why? Because they are willing to pick themselves up over and over again.
In conclusion, the process towards success is: read, practice and improvise. There are no shortcuts.