Whether events played out this way or if this is one of those massaged anecdotes that celebrities prepare for late-night television hardly matters. His mother’s method is worth stealing. It beats the knee-jerk urge some parents might have to discourage a person from wasting their time, or to subtly suggest that it’d be prudent to have a backup. It strikes the balance between protecting someone from the truth that talent alone is rarely enough to succeed in the arts, and crushing the seeds of ambition.

Then again, the advice may just seem inspiring because it worked on several levels. Krasinski apparently matured and developed some self-awareness that might have been unavailable to him had his mother offered unconditional emotional or financial support. He also got to star in a beloved series, and has since successfully made the typically fraught transition to directing.

It’s more likely that two years in New York or Los Angeles will not lead to that kind of fabled life as a working artist, at which point, some wise reframing of what a job, career, or hobby is—and where passion fits in—may be required.

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