Potentially a very different type of Godfather

There is not a specific date of when your potential will come to fruition, nor is there a time when the opportunity to take advantage of it reaches is approaching its expiry date. But we always need to find new ways to realise it in order to move forward. So how can we do this? In order to move forward in our professional lives, we need to be constantly reiterate. 

‘It-e-what?!?’ I hear you cry. It is a word that L&D types love using within the context of course design and development – just think of it as re-writes and adjustments to what is in place. But it applies through all walks of life. Even experts in their field need to make changes, as I was reminded by going back over the history of what is widely considered a modern master piece of cinema history.

The original casting of the Godfather, rather than having James Caan in the role of  Sonny Corleone, had Burt Reynolds instead. Yes, you did read that right, Burt Reynolds of ‘Smokey and the Bandit’, ‘All Dogs go to Heaven’  and ‘Boogie Nights’ fame. Now do not get me wrong, I love a bit of Burt, but I am not sure if I could see him in such a role – and apprarently I was not the only one.

English: Burt Reynolds on the red carpet for t...
Could you imagine this guy making you an offer you could not refuse? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Upon hearing of the casting Marlon Brando was not impressed, describing poor old Burt as no better than “a TV actor” and demanding a recasting. This eventually lead to James Caan being given the role. But Godfather casting revisions did not end there.

Along with Brando’s turn as the Don, Al Pacino in the role of Godfather-to-be Michael Corleone provides one of the iconic performances of the movie and of an era. And yet even he was not first choice for the position. Here is a list of actors that were considered or auditioned for the role before they decided to move forward with Mr ‘Hoo-ha!’ Pacino:

  • Martin Sheen
  • Dean Stockwell
  • Rod Steiger
  • Jack Nicholson
  • Warren Beatty
  • Dustin Hoffman

Hollywood A-listers – and yet they ended up with Pacino and it was a role he unmistakably made his own, so much so that it is hard to imagine any of the above playing the character (for the full story and more Godfather trivia to dazzle your friends with, check the following link).

Brando as Don Vito Corleone in The Godfather (...
I might have a mouthful of tissue paper, but I still call the shots around here! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What these examples illustrate is that there is no straight line to potential being developed and coming to fruition. It is a path littered with revisions and changes. This is something we all need to bear in mind within the context of our own professional development. There will be moments that feel like wrong turns, changes, one step forward and two steps back, and so on. However it is all part of the process of reiteration – even titans of their industry such as Al Pacino have had to take some unexpected turns.

So do not worry if your script of events is not quite turning out as planned – rewrites happen all the time. Although there might be offers you cannot refuse, there is nothing to say that you cannot do something to revise them – as Brando illustrated so well in this example.

So next time you face a fork in the road, embrace the opportunities that it can provide, even when it does not work out as planned. Either way, look on how you can learn from the experience – oh and don’t forget the cannoli.

This post is part of the carnival of HR and L&D Blogs taking place over at Thinking About Learning. For more information click on this link.


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