Pass the baton
I am a huge Denzel Washington fan. Not just the actor. More so the man and philosopher. You can ask the fam at African Leadership University School of Business how much I have incorporated Denzel’s inspirational philosophy and aspirational talks into my sessions with the MBAs and others.
My favorite Denzelism: “Ease is a greater threat to progress than hardship.”
So, today on CBS Sunday Morning—one of the best magazine shows on the planet—he was asked about the fact that he paid for the great Chadwick Boseman’s school, and how Chadwick said without Denzel, there would be no Black Panther.
Without hesitation he said—I had to pass the baton. Without Sidney Poitier, there is no Denzel. Without James Edwards, there is no Sidney Poitier. I had to pass the baton.
Chadwick lost his life this August at the age of 43. He took that baton and ran the hell out of it. 43 years. And look at what that boy did in those 43 years. That baton got passed to so many more via Chadwick. Even right back to Denzel. Who was effusive in his praise and admiration for his protege’s work and humanity.
Life is long if you know how to use it. Seneca.
Chadwick lived a very long and useful life.
(Do you realize you can’t find a picture of the two of them together? In this overshot, overexposed era? Two of the greatest actors, who happen to be black, and no posed shots for Instaposterity?)
For me, Chidi Afulezi…I am passing the baton. I am not a wealthy or rich dude. My accomplishments are relatively here and there. There are no flashing lights or big Chidi TED Talks or idea superspreader events. And yet, just like my mentor Denzel, I am passing the baton. When I teach. When I offer counsel. When I listen. When I open doors. When I stay silent and let others speak. When I shine the shine on others. Whenever I build a product. Whatever little I’ve got. That’s my job.
I am passing, not hoarding, the freaking baton.
Because I only have but so much time. As the Stoics say, our diagnosis was terminal the day we were born. The clock is ticking. And I can’t take the damn thing with me.
Pass the freaking baton.