Jeff Dunham had a problem. He hit a plateau in his career and was unable to go any further.
He had certainly done everything right thus far. Against all odds, he established himself as an in-demand comedian on the comedy club circuit. He built a loyal following of his off-center, politically-incorrect humor by concentrating on not only his craft, but his marketing as well.
Unlike most of his peers at the time, he routinely collected his fans’ mailing addresses and used them to let them know when he had an event in their area. When he performed at a comedy club near them, his fans flocked to his shows in droves.
He was certainly ready for the big time, but the problem was that the big time didn’t want him. Jeff reached out to Comedy Central but was soundly rebuffed time and time again. His sin was that he was a ventriloquist and ventriloquists were passé. That type of comedy was for cheesy kids’ shows, not a comedy network that defines and reflects only the best that the world of comedy has to offer.
So Jeff created an Option X solution. He hired a company to record a sold-out show in a huge auditorium. The lighting and camera work needed to be network-level quality, so he took a huge financial risk and spared no expense in the production.
That video convinced the suits at Comedy Central that there was a market for Jeff’s humor, and that same video became his first Comedy Central Special.
Matt Damon and Ben Affleck faced a similar problem. They both auditioned countless times for numerous acting jobs. Each time, a multitude of the same unknown actors showed up to audition for the same roles. Only one of them would get cast, which meant that all of the rest suffered rejection.
Occasionally they would get a small role in a big production, but those parts rarely seemed to translate into bigger opportunities. Career-defining scripts that cast unknown talent were extremely rare.
Their big break came when they pursued an Option X route. Working with an old script Matt had created for a playwriting class at Harvard, Matt and Ben completely overhauled the screenplay and started working hard to get Good Will Hunting made. Their one demand was that they be allowed to star in the movie. Fast forward a few years and a couple hundred million dollars in ticket sales, and Matt and Ben are household names.
Option X is the answer that is not offered on the multiple choice test. It’s the solution that no one else has thought of. It’s the one thing that works when nothing else will.
It takes a special kind of mindset to find an Option X solution. Option X thinkers always:
• Are convinced that every problem has a solution
• Believe that just because it hasn’t been done, doesn’t mean it can’t be done
• Are committed to growth
• Reach out to, and interface with, other people who might be able to offer assistance in the form of information and inspiration
• Have a discomfort with status-quo
• Engage risk regularly
• Fail repeatedly
I cannot begin to tell you how important this one principle has been in my career as a speaker and author. Time after time I’ve come up against barriers that seemed insurmountable. Time after time I was told I wasn’t good enough and didn’t have what it takes. Time after time I ignored the negativity and found an answer by looking for Option X.
© 2021 Charles Marshall. Charles Marshall is a nationally known humorous motivational speaker and author. Visit his Web site www.CharlesMarshallSpeaker.com or contact him via e-mail at Charles@CharlesMarshallSpeaker.com