A Career Lesson From Downton Abbey?


I discovered Downton Abbey during the height of my ‘procrastin-itis’, doing everything else but finishing my book.

Predictably, I fell in love with the character Matthew Crawley (as did most of the female viewers of the show), and rooted for the union of Matthew and Lady Mary, which took forever to happen.

(SPOILER ALERT – Stop reading if you’d like to find out on your own what happens after Season 3.)

Come to find out, Crawley dies. Way too soon and way too early in the series in my humble opinion. What were the producers thinking! Surely, they knew that Crawley was one of the most beloved characters of the show. They could have strung that character out ’til the cows came home.

As it turned out, it was Dan Stevens (the actor who played Crawley) who chose to leave his popular role in this popular British show. The producers apparently offered him all sorts of things as enticement to stay, but the actor stuck to his guns, much to the dismay of the fans.

Stevens felt that after 3 years playing Crawley, he was ready for a change. Doing the show was in his words, ‘all too consuming and limiting’ and he wanted to do other things.

So off he went, amidst the fans’ uproar, without a safety net, a kid and wife–pregnant with their second child–in tow.

Fast forward 3 years, and Stevens and his family have left the UK and have relocated to New York.

Since Downton, he has done a Broadway play; launched a literary online journal wherein he is the Editor-At-Large; lost over 30 lbs.; starred in a couple of different films-in one of which he played the lead role as far removed from Matthew Crawley as he could get.

I became fascinated (obsessed?) with his story and read quite a bit about it for a time. Granted, I was also looking for anything to distract me from finishing the book. But Dan Stevens’ story hooked me for a totally valid reason.

It was an example of someone who chose to walk away from what appears to be a solid ‘job’ in pursuit of the career he wanted for himself.

He was antsy to do the kinds of things he would rather be doing. He wanted to design his career on his own terms, even though everybody around him was saying he was insane for leaving the Crawley role.

He took the risk (as did his family) and went all in. Against all the naysayers, he went after his own version of the pot of gold at the end of the dang rainbow.

Man, do I love that story. Why couldn’t more of us (including me!) be more like Stevens!

I almost forgave him for leaving me with a Downton world without Matthew Crawley.


Lou Blaser is the founder of Second Breaks and is the author of 6 Keys To Your Best Career.


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