Actress Sarayu Blue, who stars in the new NBC comedy "I Feel Bad," produced by Amy Poehler, says the best career advice she has ever heard came from Poehler herself. "She said, 'You have to care about how good you are and how good you feel, but not about how good people think you are or how good people think you look,'" Blue recalls to CNBC Make It. "And I was like, 'That's it, that's the gem right there.'"
It's an idea Poehler also puts forward in her 2015 memoir "Yes Please " in the chapter entitled "Be whoever you are." She describes success as doing her personal best, not chasing society's definition of an impressive career. "You will never climb Career Mountain and get to the top and shout, 'I made it!'" Poehler writes. "You will rarely feel done or complete or even successful."
Keeping that in mind, Blue doesn't let other people's expectations define her. Success means she gets to feel proud of her work. In her 20's, Blue looked for external validation and "wanted proof" of her success. Now, the 43-year-old has learned to trust her gut.
"I'm at a point in my life where I know if I feel good," she says.
As long as she's doing her best, she tries not to care too much about what's happening around her. "The hardest lesson I've had to learn is how little control I have," Blue says. "I always say, 'All you can do is be a good person and do your job well and the rest is out of your hands.' And I think, when I came to that realization, it was really liberating."
Blue is able to carry this lesson over to her "I Feel Bad" character, Emet, as well. In the show, Emet struggles to balance the pressures of her job with the everyday needs of her husband, kids and live-in parents. The show plays on the idea of trying to "have it all." Blue says she relates.
"For me particularly, and when I'm looking at my friends and all of us are just flailing, I think really it's just letting yourself take breaks," she says. "Not having to have it all. Do what feels good for you and know that that's enough."
Blue chooses to focus on her own efforts and how good she feels about herself. "Sometimes I'm not going to nail it, and there's really not much I can do about that," she says. "But I can be as prepared as possible and set myself up to succeed."
"I Feel Bad" premieres on NBC on October 4th.
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