“One of the huge mistakes people make is that they try to force an interest on themselves. You don’t choose your passions. Your passions choose you.” Jeff Bezos, Founder & CEO, Amazon
“Develop your own compass, and trust it. Take risks, dare to fail, remember the first person through the wall always gets hurt.” –Aaron Sorkin, Screenwriter, Playwright
“Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it or work around it.” Michael Jordan, five-time NBA MVP, six-time NBA Champion
The article by former First Lady of Oregon Cylvia Hayes entitled, 10 Rules to Reinventing Yourself is a wonderful inventory of reminders to ourselves that “self-reinvention isn’t for wimps! But that it is absolutely essential to living your fullest life.” It’s a quick read with profound advice.
“There is an inner restlessness; an existential “itch” that desperately needs to be scratched. Each of us is at the epicenter of a potential personal crisis of epic proportions. Most Americans hate their jobs and are holding on by their fingertips trying to survive each day at the office. A recent Gallup poll produced the alarming statistic that almost 70% of those surveyed either hate their jobs or are completely disengaged from the work they do. Our ability to grab onto the inner passion of our being and pull ourselves out of this career quicksand will determine the quality of our existence.” (from the forthcoming book by Garrison Leykam and Christopher Leykam)
American journalist George Ames Plimpton is my hero. In fact, I’ve modeled much of my own life after his. Plimpton’s concept of “participatory journalism” combined with the diversity of his experiences brought to life for me Anne Frank’s belief that, “life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”
Plimpton’s palette of pursuits included competing in professional sports, acting in a Western film, performing a comedy act at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas and playing with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.
George Plimpton was the first editor-in-chief of The Paris Review, he pitched in the 1960 baseball All Star Game (Out of my League), sparred for three rounds with boxing greats Archie Moore and Sugar Ray Robinson, he attended preseason training with the Detroit Lions of the National Football League as a backup quarterback running plays in an intrasquad scrimmage (Paper Lion), joined the Baltimore Colts and played against the Lions in an exhibition game (Mad Ducks and Bears), trained as an ice hockey goalie with the National Hockey League’s Boston Bruins and appeared in a preseason game, played professional golf on the PGA Tour (The Bogey Man: A Month on the PGA Tour), attempted stand-up comedy, played tennis against Pancho Gonzalez, wrote the libretto to a new family opera-musical “Animal Tales,” and appeared in a number of feature films as an extra and in cameo appearances such as a small role in the Oscar-winning film “Good Will Hunting.”
Taking my own Plimptonian approach to personal reinvention, I have been inspired by him to participate in my own life by:
Becoming a singer-songwriter and performing at Nashville’s legendary Bluebird Café.
Opening for the Four Tops and the Beach Boys at college concerts.
Producing and engineering for London Records, Inc. during the height of the British Wave, working with such artists as The Moody Blues, Dave Edmunds, John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers, VanMorrison with Them, Al Green, ZZ Top and others.
Appearing with the self-named rock band, The Garrison Project, at New York City’s iconic CBGBs and other Big Apple venues including DownTime and the C-Note.
Starting my own record company and producing, performing and writing the songs for The Garrison Project CD.
Hosting and producing my own AM news-talk radio show at WSTC/WNLK for which I was featured on the nationally marketed Pepsi refresh Project which was promoted on the Super Bowl XLIV National Football League website.
Hosting and producing the “DINERS” TV show on Connecticut Public Television (CPTV) and being featured in the AMA’s “MotoStars: Celebrities and Motorcycles” exhibit and book along with Brad Pitt, Carlos Mencia, Keith Urban, Peter Fonda and other celebrities and bands including Journey, Rush and Foreigner.
Leading business professionals on an extreme leadership and team building expedition in the White Mountains which was filmed for ESPN2’s “Extreme Magazine” TV program.
Studying with award-winning director Stephen Rosenfield (“the best-known comedy teacher in the country,” The New York Times) to become a stand-up comedian and appearing at Manhattan’s famous Gotham Comedy Club, host to such comedy legends as Robert Klein, Jerry Seinfeld, Lewis Black and Jackie Mason and producing and hosting a TV documentary about my experiences (“Comic on a Half Shell”).
Holding senior-level leadership positions for such notable corporations as MCI Telecommunications, DSL.net and Grand Circle Travel.
Eating and motorcycling my way across the Nutmeg State, chronicling my favorite eateries in the book, Classic Diners of Connecticut.
Trekking across Egypt by motorcycle and writing about my experiences in a two-part feature story in New York rider magazine.
it’s dreams, no matter how grandiose or seemingly silly, that hold the seeds of our own greatness as defined by our personal meaning of success, so long as we relentlessly and uncompromisingly go after them. We owe it to no one other than ourselves to listen to the whispers of our own inner voice reminding us of our dormant passions that yearn for self-expression and the ultimate prize of being able to say, “I did it.” Life is not about how much money you’ve got, what kind of car you drive or what you look like. Life is about going to bed at night being able to say, “I did it” and waking up in the morning wanting to experience more of what life has to offer and saying, “I want to do it.”
It is a sad irony that shortly after praising David Bowie’s career as being hallmarked by reinvention and visual presentation, we should lose yet another music icon who epitomizes reinvention: Prince.
I’ve heard it said that our immortal soul is the legacy we leave for others to remember us by, Prince’s gift for generations to come is that he truly lived and breathed his musical talents; never letting himself be walled in to any genre. For those who are reinventing themselves so that their lives align with their true passions, Prince’s presence within the world and within himself serves as a beacon of light for how to be true to your unique gifts and talents so that you can bring value to your own life and to the lives of others.
When will you realize the full potential of you?
Have you set a date?
Are you going after a goal?
Tomorrow may never happen. What are you doing today to realize your dreams and aspirations? You don’t want to hear yourself lament, “Say say two thousand zero zero party over, oops, out of time.”
Prince made many stops along his reinvention road to greatness: from Little Red Corvette, one of the first videos by a black artist on MTV, to his Academy Award for Purple rain, to his creation of The Family, to Nothing Compares 2 U made famous by Sinead O’Connor, to his name and wardrobe changes and everything he created inbetween.
Practice your craft, embrace diversity, become an expert of you, improvise and make the cream rise to the top of your dreams.
“This is it
It’s time for you to go to the wire
You will hit
‘Cause you got the burnin’ desire
It’s your time (Time)
Never, ever go by the letter (Never ever)
You’re so cool (Cool)
Everything you do is success
Make the rules (Rules)
Then break them all ’cause you are the best”
(Prince and the New Power Generation)