What Are You Going To Do? Stay Down? Get Up, My Friend.
There's this great story I watched on one of my favorite shows of all time, CBS Sunday Morning. If you have the chance to watch it online or every Sunday on the CBS app, please do. It is the pinnacle of human based storytelling, where someone like a Masai Ujiri, Caster Semenya, or Lady Gaga can be stripped of their halo, and become real, human, tangible, relatable. Storytelling at its best. It is now a family ritual to watch this every Sunday morning, and my dream is to produce a similar show for the continent of Africa, anyone who knows people who can help me make it happen, please holler.
I am dead serious.
Anyways, the story was about a guy named Taylor Sheridan. Short of the long, the dude had toiled in Hollywood for twenty years in bit roles and essentially was giving up his dream of ever being a leading man in Hollywood. Then, a friend comes to him, and offers a script writing gig. Which became the first episode of powerful show called "Mayor of Kingstown". Then he wrote the screenplay for Sicario, known as one of the best reviewed thrillers about the FBI and the Mexican cartels. After that, it was gangbusters, culminating in Yellowstone, a show that has revived the American Western as a genre. He is now the writer and creator of at least ten shows in production or preproduction today.
He was asked, "What kept you going in the acting world?"
"I think stubbornness, a refusal to fail," he replied.
This guy's current track literally grabbed me by the collar and shook the mess out of me. His is not the only story like this. Samuel L Jackson started in his forties, and only became a leading man in his 50s. Let me remind you he was so low on the totem pole that Spielberg didn't even capture his death in the first Jurassic Park movie, only indicating it via the carcass of arm left behind by a raptor.
Now he is the highest grossing actor ever.
Fall seven times, get up eight. The hard part is when you get up, and then fall again. That's when the rubber (or skin in this case) hits the road. My resilience and level-headedness comes from an insane amount of falling down, rejection, ghostings (I get ghosted like no man's business, na wa o), and no’s coming out the wazoo. Never been a Top X under/over anything. I've always been under-estimated. A lot of ”wow, I didn't know you were such a badass, Chidi” eyebrow arches after the fact.
Recently after a talk I gave, I heard some young padwans at Spelman College whisper aloud, "Wait, so he is somebody...big dog doing big things" and I smiled to myself wistfully. Don't know about all of that, sister. On the continent, I chuckle at some of the deference pointed my way especially when I get the "Oga" or "Boss" references. The antidote that I use to defuse any possible swollen head syndrome is remembering the many times I crashed, and the inevitable crashes coming ahead.
Yet, we keep pushing. Right? Nothing is as good or as bad as it seems. One step at a time. Do the work, focus on what is in front of you, make it thru the day. Don't let wahala derail you, and be aggressively aggressive against who or what you let into your day, careful who you open the front door of your mind to (especially via that sneaky personal portal device aka your phone). You WILL be rebuffed, challenged, forgotten, elbow smashed, dunked on (or you miss your dunk), fall on your face or on your butt.
But as Denzel says, "Fall seven times, get up eight."
(if you are suspiciously wondering if this was a note to self, you and Sherlock Holmes should start a detective agency together 🙃)
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