How Will Smith inspired me to write a children’s book
“If you’re not making someone else’s life better, you are wasting your time.”
This quote floated around my head as I stared blankly at the TV in a zombie like psychosis. After getting off what felt like a 72 hour conference call (It was only 2 hours), I sat down on the couch to find the television displaying the Oprah Winfrey Show. I frantically looked for the remote control, but it was no where to be found. I am 100 percent positive that the couch ate it once again (it did this at least once a week). Exhausted and completely mentally drained, I continued to stare at the television trying to muster up the energy to get up and change the TV manually to ESPN. I am sure there would be a game on, but if not, anything had to be better than the Oprah Show.
I want to take a moment to apologize to Oprah.
Oprah, if you ever read this:
1. I would probably do a crazy, beyond happy, ecstatic dance that includes a really bad robot maneuver that I unfortunately and unrealistically believe looks, well…….. realistic. (I have been told it is a poor excuse for “The Robot,” but I think haters are gonna hate. JT doesn’t have anything on me).
2. I have since fallen in love with your energy, drive, and mission in life and love watching your program.
As I continued to wage the internal conflict in my mind of:
- Pleasure: Watch ESPN
- Pain: Get up & change the TV station
- Pleasure: Continue to sit and sink deeper into the couch
- Pain: Be comfortable, but have to watch Oprah
I suddenly noticed that her guest was Will Smith. “Okay, I actually really like Will Smith,” I told myself. But honestly, who doesn’t love the artist who gave the world the greatest rap song of the 90’s “Parent’s Just Don’t Understand.” (For you youngsters out there, yes Will Smith was a rapper).
At this point I was looking for any excuse that could possibly serve my interest in two very different ways:
- Allow me to not get up and continue sitting on this couch and
- Give me a reasonable explanation to why I was sitting alone watching Oprah, most likely with a tear rolling down my cheek.
This is when Will Smith started speaking and what he said filled my heart faster than a waiter at a fancy restaurant fills the water glass. (Seriously, have you ever been to one of these places? The waiters are like ninjas).
“If you’re not making someone else’s life better you are wasting your time.”
I sat there, this time not out of fatigue, but instead out of numbness. My body was frozen, but my mind suddenly went into overdrive with questions and thoughts rapidly racing through my head.
“Whose life are you making better?”
“What are you doing with your gifts?”
“Are you living your purpose?”
At the time of this event I was working for one of the leading software data analytic companies in the world, but something was missing. From the outside looking in, I was living the dream. The perks included a large salary, massive commission checks, a corporate card with an unlimited expense account, and free trips across the globe. Even with the stability, status, and perks; I still found myself struggling to find my identity.
“Whose life am I making better?” I was lining my pockets with money, the companies stocks with value, and a huge Uncle Scrooge McDuck like vault full of gold coins for my clients.
I don’t even remember the rest of the interview, because all I could sense was that I was wasting my experiences, my gifts, and my purpose on materialistic things that ultimately didn’t fulfill my true calling to “shift the energy of the world through storytelling.” While my “Pursuit of Passion Trip,” was the game winning shot that helped me identify the clarity around my purpose, I believe it was this exact moment that got the ball rolling.
I went into my office, turned on the computer, and my fingers started frantically hitting the keys on my keyboard. I had a Jerry Maguire moment, but instead of a mission statement (It is not a memo), It was an inspirational children’s book. I am not even sure I knew what I was typing, but the poet and writer in me came rushing out.
I stayed up the entire night, fueled by energy, hope, and inspiration and when I walked out of my office at 5am, I had “No You Can’t, Yes I Can.”
I sent the rough draft of the book to my life coach and friend and he immediately said “You have to release this to the world.” I spent the next couple of months creating an art contest, partnering with the most amazing artist I have ever had the privilege of meeting: Antoinette Cauley (seriously people if you have not checked out her art, it is a must. She is not only crazy talented, but she is also an amazing human being). Antoinette created the cover and the foundation for the main character in the book “Jay.” We then held an art contest to find a handful of young aspiring artist who wanted the opportunity to create the art that would eventually land in the book. After the art contest I created a Kickstarter campaign in an effort to raise the money to self publish the book and get it into the hands of as many people as possible. Thanks to the support of some amazing friends, family, and strangers I raised the money that was needed to complete the project and we got the book into production.
As I sit back and reflect on the events that led to me writing “No You Can’t, Yes I Can,” I think about how seemingly random events can make such a profound impact on our life. I think about the what ifs: “What if I wasn’t being so lazy that day? What if the TV would have been on another channel when I sat down? What if the couch wasn’t a remote control eating glutton?” I think about how the the universe will conspire to give you hints, nudges, and subtle reminders that push you in the direction of our true calling, we just need to be awake and open to new possibilities (in my case, watching Oprah). Lastly, I think about how a simple story by an inspiring individual can create a massive change in one persons life and how that change can potentially impact millions of other people.
For those who don’t believe me about the greatest rap song in the 90’s: I will leave this right here for you!!!!