Soon to be retired Kobe Bryant said something once I liked. Paraphrasing here, ‘Before you get the ring, they’ll say you’re one of the guys who can’t win the ring. You get one, they say you can’t get two. And on and on, so the talk never stops.’ So just focus on the work, knowing people will find some reason to criticize you no matter what you do.
This year, more than any since I first moved to L.A., I really fell in love with ‘the Process’ again. I wake up every morning with a smile on my face like I used to. Having a year plus of meditation under my belt helps. I think to be truthful getting burned a few times around the block helped as well. I don’t have ‘plans’ anymore. To be clear, I have goals and strategies in place to accomplish the goals. But we know what God does to plans. So I always give myself enough flexibility to deal with whatever unexpectedly comes. I’m more relaxed with this mindset and it shows.
‘Trojan War’ is the gift that keeps on giving. Having some space now since when it came out, I can digest all the different lessons I took from that experience. My personal biggest takeaway from that project? If I can contribute to and be a major part of a ‘dream’ project, without crossing a line I don’t feel comfortable crossing, either as a black man, a Muslim or a generally ethical human being? Why cross the line on projects that are straightforward jobs? Why cross the line in life? So everything I’m building and everything that’s coming, you can thank Aaron and ESPN for raising the bar and proving I can do it my way.
Some of you ‘Scandal’ fans became familiar with a line a lot of grew up with: ‘You have to work twice as hard to get half of what they have.’ So with my double minority status, does that mean I have to work four times as hard? Or, actually, to get everything I want and feel I deserve, eight times as hard to really finish the job?
I’ve never really had a ‘perfect example’ of a single person who’s covered all the bases I try to cover in life (racial, spiritual, professional). It’s been a huge blessing and a huge curse at times to see no one really filling what I feel is ‘my spot’. What I have embraced the past year, especially in the climate we live in, is the impossible standard I have to hold myself to, to even have a chance. I make a genuine mistake, it gets used as proof I ‘don’t deserve the opportunity.’ I get approached sideways, and it doesn’t matter if it’s a genuine competitive threat, or an attempt to pull me down and away from my goals, I always have to take the high road. Even if human nature would make it obvious I’d be more than willing to handle it another way. Can’t do it. Nine times out of ten, I’ll have a lot more to lose by getting involved in every minor slight. For all intents and purposes, it’s been the progressive removal of my ‘off switch’ in service of something bigger than myself.
So, thanks Obama, for giving me an example to shoot for.
Been a great year, but more to come.
Back next week.