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  • Writer's pictureJohn Clarkson


These days it seems that more than ever, people want nothing less than a full measure of success, with all the wealth and fame that implies.

In my small foray into social media, it seems like half the people are seeking success; the other half are trying to sell them the secrets to success. Much of the advice is valuable. But about a month ago I heard something about success that really made me stop and think.

Charlie Rose had Al Pacino on his show, and he asked Pacino why he had succeeded while others hadn’t.  Pacino answered the question by telling Charlie Rose about a conversation he’d had with another actor shortly after he’d broken out in a play called The Indian Wants the Bronx, by Israel Horovitz.  (Pacino won the 1968 Obie Award for his performance in the play.)

Pacino’s actor friend told Al that he believed he was as talented as Pacino and wanted success as much as Pacino.  Maybe even more.  And Pacino agreed.  So his actor friend wanted to know – how come Pacino broke through while he hadn’t?

Pacino thought about it and finally said to his friend – you want it, but I have to have it.

That caught my attention.  “You want it.  I have to have it.”

Pacino didn’t explain the difference between the two.  But the more tweets I read, the more exchanges back and forth between followers and followed, the more I think about what Pacino said.

“Have to have it” clearly sounds like something in a different category.  Does it mean Pacino was willing to do more?  Be more passionate, persevere more, hone his craft more?

Or did it mean that Pacino simply refused to fail?

Or, was this something Pacino had discovered about himself?  Did realizing he had to have success make him feel it was inevitable?  And did that, in turn, give him the confidence to make it happen?

Maybe it was all of the above.  What do you think?

Whatever it means, I find what Pacino said to be a new way of looking at this success issue.

Do I want this, or do I have to have this?

It’s still not completely defined for me, but it feels like a very good place to start when thinking about how to succeed. 

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