Goal Achievement – Mamma Mia!

Goal Achievement - Mamma Mia!I was watching a documentary series about British musical theatre recently, and it gave me a whole heap of subject matter to write about concerning goal achievement. In this post I want to talk about the lessons which may have you yelling ‘Mamma Mia…!’

This article isn’t about Abba either – well, ok, there has to be some connection, because the whole show *is* based around their songs after all, but it’s the story of the show rather than the band that caught my eye.

Producer Judy Craymer was an Abba fan, and used to put selections together in different orders to make a narrative, just for her own fun. When she decided that this was an idea that could actually be turned into something, she took action.

Right there is the biggest lesson I repeat over and over in my writing, so I’ll repeat it again here – she took action.

That action involved getting in touch with Abba’s Bjorn Ulvaeus, who agreed in principle to the idea of a TV special, telling a story based around Abba’s songs. Then, as part of her action taking, Craymer had found out that Tina Turner lived near her, so she went round and posted a script through her letterbox!

That bit made me laugh, because although she got an abrupt letter in response from Turner’s manager, she had made the effort, she hadn’t dismissed any possibilities.

With the TV show going nowhere, Craymer switched the idea to a stage show, and after persuading Benny and Bjorn (again!), she sold her flat and gave up her job to focus on the idea.

Now she needed a writer who could put together a story based on the songs, and she found Catherine Johnson, who was out of work at the time. Craymer had never produced a show before, and Johnson had never written one, so there must have been some seriously good selling somewhere to convince the Abba boys!

So, along with taking action, getting around setbacks, and doing things you’ve never done before, here’s another goal achievement lesson…

For nearly three decades, the West End had risen to the top of the world by taking a story and writing the music to fit it. With Mamma Mia, Craymer and Johnson were doing the opposite – taking a set of songs, hugely famous songs too, and writing a story to string them together.

You can imagine why so many people thought it would fail.

The duo pressed on though, and it was clear as soon as the morning after opening night in April 1999, that they had a massive hit on their hands. The show has gone around the world, and of course Hollywood snapped it up too, making Craymer and Johnson the odd penny or two.
It’s not the money that’s important to the point I make though, it’s the goal achievement lessons – taking an idea, and acting on it, even if you have no experience, and if your idea runs contrary to accepted ideas.

It didn’t stop Judy Craymer, why should it stop you? Maybe you should take action on your own moment of ‘Mamma Mia!’

By the way, if you want to read more of these ideas and techniques, then grab my book ‘Transform Your Life in 21 Days!’‘Til Next Time,
Health & happiness,
P.S. I love feedback, so do let me know what you think!

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  • . The goal of mnakig a living of doing what you love is a reality that is widespread over disciplines of all shapes and sizes, within and beyond creative careers. I have yet to meet a passionate writer, dancer, musician, architect or designer that works these professions for only the end validation, the paycheck. However, we are human, and all crave validation. Even those of us who are truly content just mnakig, need the means to live by (call that validation or not). The purest form of the artist or creator is still sullied by the business of dealing with day to day economics. And the creator who does not enjoy the process of creating, is no creator at all. It sounds like you have encountered too many talented writers who love their craft, but for one reason or another, have not been published. I admit, this is completely disheartening, both for the writer, and for the colleagues who cheer them on. It is the same of any vocation of a creator. It is sad to see the aspirations of the talented eaten away by the reality of the industry. Now as I write, my younger sister is living in Brooklyn, trying to make it as a modern dancer, and working 5 side jobs. She has been doing this for years. Dance is her creating, and her art. She is very talented, but for one reason or another, she has not been hired by a dance company. She tells me she is tired, and doesn?t know how much longer she can keep up working the crazy, endless hours so in the pursuit of her craft. Just like the young writer, whose end goal was being published, her end goal is dancing full time. The true end goal is supporting yourself with your craft. Just because you want it, does not mean you devalue the creation. It simply means you are so hopelessly dedicated, you want nothing more than to spend your days in the craft. In creating, the means always justify the ends, but for those of us who need to support ourselves, you must make the ends, or the means are lost in the struggle somewhere along the way. Thanks for the food for thought

    • Hi Yus,
      Yes, it’s always hard at the bottom, competing with so many others where the pay is virtually non existent. With this Mama Mia story, she could just as easily been rejected, in fact you would have expected her to. She kept going though, and while there are countless others who kept going and didn’t ultimately get there, it’s true that nearly all the successes are built on doubt, struggle and hardship.

      It’s a tough choice whether to keep going or draw a line under it.

    • It’s my kind of show/film Roy, and when I heard about the tale of getting it up and running, it was my kind of story too!

      Cheers, Gordon

  • You said it, Gordon! Without action there’s only analysis paralysis and fantasy – that may be fun for parlor games and conversation but without action, how does the business owner measure progress? Action is where one finally has to take a risk – more than plunk money down for the book, the class, the tape or video; more than read or discuss, you have to take the risk of potential rejection and failure for the tantalizing promise of success! It’s rare, it’s scary – look what these women were willing to do for their idea! – and it’s exciting, too!

    • Thanks Andrea!
      Yes, the story just leapt at me from the screen. In the musical theatre world of ferocious competition, they still managed to come through with what seemed a ridiculous idea. Plus, this wasn’t way back in the mists of time, it’s a modern day tale of the power of action and belief!

  • Action! Such a great word. With action comes fear, possible rejection, potential loss of social circles, risk, adrenaline rushes and sometimes bruises. Without Action the world plods along in an assumption of what life is all about. I know which one I prefer 🙂 Great story, inspiring!

    • Thanks Kama!
      In fact action is one of the 4 magic words I write about beginning with the letter ‘A’.
      It’s quite possibly the most powerful thing to do, and usually nothing like as bad as often feared.

      You mention possible rejection, and indeed the whole Mama Mia! phenomenon could have never happened if the initial rejection had been taken to heart. Instead it led to more action, and voila! Lots of smiling foot tapping around the world.
      Cheers, Gordon

  • I didn’t know this about Mama Mia, Gordon. What a great story and even greater lesson. Without action, you’re going nowhere.

    On another note, it was brave of Judy to approach Abba and Tina Turner. The take away is that most folks are approachable and you’ll never know if you don’t try. And when you do try, great things can happen. And those that aren’t approachable, have their own issues.

    • Thanks Julia,
      yes, the ‘never know til you try’ lesson is a powerful one. So many people just follow a ‘oh you can’t ask then that!’ mantra, when in fact the worst you can get is a ‘no’, as in the Tina Turner case.

  • Great story and I loved the movie. I also believe in taking action, until we do, nothing happens. When we take action everything is possible, we just need to choose what we are going to focus on and never give up 😉

    • Thanks Lena!
      The story behind the project would make a good movie itself, the idea must have seemed so far fetched at first! Just to see how it ended up is proff positive, in the real world, about what can be done.
      Thanks for stopping by!

    • Thanks Harriet!
      You’ve done a good job with your blogging challenge this month, and your writing hits the spot too!
      Cheers, Gordon

    • Thanks Linda!
      It’s a great story, and it may well have ended after the Tina Turner incident. Motivation isn’t always enough there must be unotld numbers of other similarly motivated people that didn’t get there, but as you say, it’s so important that we will see the motivation at the heart of all the tales that *do* succeed! Thanks for stopping by!
      Cheers, Gordon