Defying Gravity

Someone once looked to the skies and dared to dream of flying like an eagle. Impossible? Not for the Wright Brothers.

Understanding an idea is one thing. Allowing it to grow wings is something entirely different.

We are too often our own worst enemies, stopping ourselves from even trying to achieve a dream that others consider wildly impossible. You can give in to self-doubt. Or you can champion your idea by putting everything in the middle and letting it ride. Go all in. Develop a blistering infatuation with the notion – the very idea – that seeing your dreams and goals become a reality sits squarely on your shoulders.

And knowing what you’re worth is absolutely crucial to your success.

A struggling actor once had an idea. And he ran with it. He embraced his self-worth at a level that most entrepreneurs, and people in general, would consider blatant insanity. But before all that, life put its foot on his throat at an early age and never relented until the impossible happened.

This man had suffered complications at birth leaving the left side of his face partially paralyzed. Parts of his tongue, cheek, and chin sustained considerable, untreatable nerve damage that would affect his speech and facial expressions forever. He was called “dumb” and “dopey” throughout his childhood into early adulthood. He heard “no” more than “yes.” But he pushed forward and chased his dream of becoming an actor.

He moved to Los Angeles and took on a few small roles as an extra in some subpar films. He was instantly typecast into roles as goons and thugs based largely on his appearance. It wasn’t long before even these little gigs dried up, and he was left jobless. He sold his dog for $50 because he couldn’t afford to feed it. He faced bouts of homelessness, even sleeping in a bus terminal for days on end.

One day he walked into a restaurant looking for work, but he couldn’t even get the manager’s attention. The entire place was glued to a television screen, watching Chuck Wepner go the distance with Muhammad Ali. He watched the fight, too…

And lightning struck.

An idea hijacked his mind. He was so consumed by this idea that he raced home to his 8’ by 9’ apartment, set up a typewriter, and pounded the keys for three straight days. At the end of his caffeine-induced delirium, he had the first draft of a screenplay that he believed in so truly and so deeply that he set out to get it made.

This unknown nobody managed to land a few meetings with some people in power and pitched his idea. He faced rejection after rejection. Some even laughed him out of their meetings. Nonetheless, he soldiered on. Fiercely.

Eventually he connected with two executives who liked his idea and wanted to buy the project outright. They offered him a one-time payment of $125,000. Imagine this scenario – you barely have $100 in your bank account, you’re on the verge of sleeping on the streets, and you have no job. An offer of $125,000 sounds too good to be true, right?

Wrong.

He rejects the offer. He believed that he was the only actor to play the lead role in the film he had written. The executives couldn’t believe what they were hearing. They wanted a star to play the lead, not this nobody. He left empty-handed.

A few weeks later, they doubled their offer to $250,000. But he stood his ground.

Their final offer was for a whopping $350,000. This would have been life-changing money for this nobody.

“No.”

So, after scratching their heads at the moxie of this unknown, jobless actor who looked goofy and talked funny, they shrugged their shoulders and agreed to let him star in the project… but they would only pay him $35,000 for the rights to the script. And that finally got them the “yes” they were looking for.

The first thing he did was go to buy back his dog. The new owner wanted $1,500. He paid it.

The film was produced and went on to gross over $100 million at the box office. It was nominated for 10 Academy Awards, including Best Actor, and that nobody became an overnight sensation.

The movie is Rocky. And that “nobody” is Sylvester Gardenzio Stallone.

The impossible only seems impossible because it’s shrouded in fear of the unknown. Know your own worth and the worth of your idea. Believe in it so mightily that you can make it a shining reality.

Defy gravity.

 

 

Sources:

Sylvester Stallone On ‘Rocky’, ‘Creed’ & The 40-Year Career In Between – Q&A

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sylvester_Stallone

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