Julian Fellowes on Persistence, Getting Started, and Logical Consequences

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Quotes, Rules of Thumb

I was doing some background research on Julian Fellowes after listening to his screenwriter’s commentary on the Gosford Park DVD and came across three quotes that you may find useful as an entrepreneur.

The first two are in response to Leilah Farrah’s questions in an interview in the Wednesday June 25, 2003 edition of the Scotsman.

Q: What do you wish you had learned at school but were not taught?

A: [...] the real gap in my education was not a failing of my school, but of my period. The 1960s pretended that everyone had years and years to decide what to do with their lives and they should go off round the world and find themselves and all that. As a result, an enormous number came to their chosen professions too late to make a mark in them. You still see them wandering around Chelsea in leather jackets with long, thinning hair, casualties of the lie that there was plenty of time.

This echoes Thomas Szasz’s observation that “People often say that this or that person has not yet found himself. But the self is not something one finds, it is something one creates.” I think the best way to prepare for an entrepreneurial career is to start or take part in a new business.

Q: What is the single most important lesson you have learned outside of formal education?

A: That the key ingredient of success is persistence. And luck, of course. I am happy to help people these days, if I can, but I try to help only those who are persistent and determined. I know the others will not make it no matter how much help they are given.

The ability to persist and maintain your focus is one of the key ingredients of a successful entrepreneur’s approach to a new business. The ability to understand, anticipate, and accept the consequences (and the risks) of a decision are the key to prudent risk taking, another requirement for success in a startup. Bella Stander interviewed Fellowes in the Book Reporter on February 18, 2005 and asked him

Q: Americans believe in second chances, in starting over. Miss Manners recently wrote, “This country was founded by people who weren’t doing well at home.”

A: The notion that you can get a facelift and be 33 again is a false one. You have to take the consequences of your choices: That’s the one you married; that’s the mother or father of your children; this is the career you chose; you have to make this career work for you. You can’t spend the rest of your life regretting that you didn’t go to med school. You have to have the strength to realize and accept when there isn’t still time. I’m all for doing something for yourself and not allowing other people’s expectations to steamroll you, but you should choose something where you have a reasonable expectation of fulfillment.

The concept of accepting the consequences of your decisions is echoed by Thomas Huxley and Robert Ingersoll:

“Logical consequences are the scarecrows of fools and the beacons of wise men.” Thomas Huxley

“In nature there are neither rewards nor punishments; there are consequences.” Robert Ingersoll

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