I was in a hotel room in Mount Pleasant, Michigan after a successful
GIG" (I conducted a keynote, a book signing, and two workshops) and flopped on the bed to watch a little basketball. During a commercial, I stumbled upon Spike Lee's extraordinary new documentary on Showtime,
's Journey from Motown to Off the Wall.
Spike explains how the entertainer (you must call him that because he was world-class as a dancer, singer, actor, producer, and collaborative writer) sat down on November 6, 1979 and decided to reinvent and recommit himself to his career.
Here is what he wrote:
MJ will be my new name. No more Michael Jackson. I want a whole new character, a whole new look. I should be a totally different person. People should never think of me as the kid who sang
I Want You Back." I should be a new incredible singer, dancer, actor that will shock the world! I will do no interviews. I will be magic. I will be a perfectionist, a master! I will be better than every great actor roped in one. I must have an incredible training system! To dig and dig until I find. I will study...and look back on the whole world of entertainment and perfect it. Take it steps further from where the greatest left off.
M. J. 11.6.79
What is fascinating about his goal was he was already rich, famous, and incredibly gifted. At the time, he was enjoying as much or more success than anyone his age in his industry, and he was only 21 years old. It was more than a goal. It was similar to what Bruce Lee did in his twenties. This was A Big Hairy Audacious Goal; A Definite Chief Aim and Purpose. This was straight from Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. It would catapult him to the status of the King of Pop. He would leave everyone else behind. I do mean everyone. As this amazing documentary unfolds, you realize M. J.'s extraordinary ascent was no accident. It had nothing to do with luck or chance. Here are just some the things M. J. did, actions he took, after November 6, 1979:
- He studied the legends in dance, song, film and stage, writing, and production. He pored over video, film, and archives of the greatest in each of those disciplines. He was a super-sponge.
- He out-worked everyone around him. When Kobe Bryant asked him how much he practiced dancing, he replied, "Until I can't move my legs!"
- He sought out mentors from an early age. He asked questions constantly of producers, singers, musicians, and dancers. He always asked open-ended questions (Who, What, Where, When, How, and Why) and absorbed the answers. He integrated them into what he was already doing.
- He was fortunate to be in an environment that was collaborative, new, and exciting at a very young age. When he was nine years old, Motown was a stable of extraordinary African-American singers, songwriters, and musicians. Berry Gordy knew talent when he saw it. M. J. used the learning model R2A2: Recognize, Relate, Assimilate, and Apply.
- He was a student of history. He would observe, imitate, and integrate what he saw from the old masters. His dancing and movement had elements borrowed from James Brown, Jackie Wilson, Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Sammy Davis, Jr., and James "Bojangles" Robinson.
- He was persistent, tenacious, and determined like few other entertainers. At nine, it was said of him, "He's all business. He didn't want to be poor." Growing up in the steel town of Gary, Indiana with 10 siblings, life was tough.
- His mother said, "At three years of age, he had a lot of rhythm. He love to dance. It was in his DNA. We encouraged it." That is both Nature and Nurture.
What do you have written down? Is it time to reinvent and recommit? Or am I just "Off the Wall"?
A poem to my new granddaughter, Penelope Jean. I love you so much.
by Mark Matteson
You were born for something bigger,
This I know to be absolutely true,
Who knew, not me, just go figure;
It's all about what you think and do.
A positive opposite is a simple thing,
Just take a negative thought inside,
Turn it around and make it sing,
Changing Fear to Faith and don't you hide.
Self-Efficacy is really reframing,
The bad inside you to good,
'Up until now' is hopeful singing,
That transforms 'might' to 'could.'
Simply change 'I'm not good enough, I know I'll lose,'
To 'I have what it takes to win this time.'
Optimism is a choice, it's what Winners choose,
Pessimism is, too; it's the darkest rhyme.
What we THINK, SAY and FEEL to our self,
Determines just how well we actually do,
Change the Bad Habit of our Talk to Self,
To a Good Habit, that rings positive and true.
Give it a try, you've got nothing to lose,
Think of it as a children's game,
God's gift to man is his ability to choose,
And surrender explain, complain and blame.
So stay the course and finish the race,
The best is truly yet to come,
Run a steady, consistent marathon pace,
You'll be delighted when it's done.