Sep
24
2010

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Fellows Friday is a weekly series on the TED Blog that profiles one TED Fellow each week. We have asked the Fellows to answer our question below to share their knowledge and advice with other social entrepreneurs, innovators, and changemakers who are coming up with big ideas that can change the world.

Documentary filmmaker and photographer Saeed Taji Farouky is always looking for a challenge. Whether it’s creating radically honest films, climbing mountains, or running ultramarathons.

Sokunthea: There are many aspiring social entrepreneurs out there who are trying to take their passion and ideas to the next level. What is one piece of advice you would give to them based on your own experiences and successes?

Saeed: I think it’s the same for any kind of undertaking, any huge challenge. The person who succeeds will always be the person who can endure the longest.

I see it as very much related to long distance running, hiking, and that sort of thing. If you are the sort of person that would never drop out of a race because you’re in pain — would figure out another way of making it to the end — you’re the kind of person who would last the longest in other challenges. You’d say, “I’m willing to have no money for the next ten years, because I know that this is going to work in ten years’ time. I’m willing to not have a stable job today, because I know that in ten years my social business or my documentary film will be finished.”

While everyone else says, “I’m just going to work in a bank for a couple of years, and then live my dream,” they almost never do.

You have to be one hundred percent dedicated and obsessed — in a good way. In the sense that you can not do anything else. I’ve tried to get so many different kinds of jobs that would be stable and pay well. And I literally could not. I just failed every single time. I realized after about five years, I was sabotaging those opportunities. In the back of my mind I was saying, “No, no, what you really want to do is make films. You don’t want this job.” And then I wouldn’t get it. So eventually I started listening to that voice in my head. I decided to make my own film.

Stop being the person who is trying to be something. Be the person who is something. Just go out and do it.

Read the rest of Saeed's Fellows Friday interview here.

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