“Know your business, become a student of the game, surround yourself with brilliant people, and go to work.”
I love blockbuster movies and one of my favourite celebrities is Dwayne Johnson, also known as ‘The Rock.’ He’s funny, a good actor, producer and always delivers great entertainment.
He’s also overcome adversity, setbacks through injury, family trauma and depression in his own journey: from American football to the wrestling ring and to the big screen.
This first-hand account of his life in Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversation (17 June 2018) pulls you in with his story of resilience and ‘keep going’ attitude.
He talks about family trauma, how a different moment in life could have put him on a darker path, depression and why it´s important to be yourself and to be authentic.
When it comes to motivation, resilience and Johnson’s story, these are some insights I took that I want to share:
Being authentic is better
When Johnson tried to be someone different in the wrestling ring and fake it, things took a humiliating turn for the worse. He pretended to enjoy playing the ‘role’ of a ‘babyface’ (or the ‘hero’). Fans knew this wasn’t really him. The crowd at Madison Square Gardens (no pressure) turned on him.
With hindsight, he wasn’t comfortable with his original choice of trying to be someone who he wasn’t. The next time the chance came up to return to the ring, he found the courage to address the crowd directly and be himself. A few weeks later he was being himself and playing the role that fitted him better (the ‘heel’ or the villain) and the fans loved him.
Life can turn in a moment and even the smallest choices matter
Johnson was in a whole heap of trouble at high school and with the law, including for theft and cheque fraud. One day his misdeeds could have escalated into violence. He planned, with a friend, to rob a drunk for his cash using violence.
This would have led to all kinds of consequences and a different and darker path. A different set of circumstances on the day led to a different choice and the chance not to go down that path. Johnson looks back at that moment with thanks as he made a better choice.
Say “yes” to new opportunities to get out of your comfort zone
The opportunity to build a career in American Football came to him out of the blue. In fact, the person who made him the offer was someone he managed to annoy the day before. Johnson wasn’t expecting a chance, but when it came he didn’t hesitate and he took it. It moved him forward and out of a stagnant phase of life and gave him the opportunity to go for something he cared about.
Follow your own path even if there is no guarantee of success
Peer and family pressure could discourage you from following or even exploring a path that’s right for you. However, you owe it to yourself to at least explore what a different path could look like, no matter what family or society think. After he wasn’t chosen to play professional football in the NFL, he joined the Canadian Football League (CFL). He was dropped from this as well.
He had $7 in his pocket. He was back home with his parents at 23 years old and was depressed. He got an opportunity to get back into the CFL. He thought long and hard about his future and he decided to go into wrestling, just as his dad and grandad had. His father was not thrilled and tried to get him to change his mind. He said Johnson would be throwing everything away. Johnson decided to stick to his guns and really wanted to explore this path. In the end, his dad did train him and the rest is history.
There’s no alternative but to work very hard
It’s not just in the gym that Johnson’s work ethic matters. When he made the transition from wrestling into Hollywood he was determined to prove his worth as an actor and artist. Johnson didn’t just want to be popular.
He knew that overnight fame wouldn’t last. He wanted to be more valuable to the people he worked with and with the ultimate goal of reaching and entertaining as many people as possible. There were no shortcuts. He got on with learning all he could about the business of Hollywood (producing, directing, acting, marketing) and he also took the experience and help of others to get there.
Want to make a change in your own life?
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