“Decide that you want it more than you are afraid of it.” — Bill Cosby
My grandfather George Cunningham (1926-2007) told me a story once forty times about seeing Bill Cosby perform for three straight hours in South Carolina. No intermission. Three hours. Thousands of people. My grandfather never forgot that night and was at least As AMAZED by that detail as by the comedy itself, which we both adored. It meant a lot for me to hear George talk about Bill Cosby because when I was growing up I felt like they were almost the same person. The way they both told stories and captivated an audience; the way Bill Cosby Himself (CHOCOLATE CAKE!) seemed to reflect my real life. The way The Cosby Show and George shaped my life, how I resolved conflict and how I treated people.
But mostly they helped me see AND FEEL that literally anything was possible (Cake delivering nutrients and Men delivering Orange Soda babies notwithstanding).
I graduated Carolina 1999, moved to Chicago 2000, came home to North Carolina 2004 and opened DSI Comedy Theater 16 months later, a theater that celebrates 5 years in October. My professional partnerships and personal relationships have been a roller coaster for sure because I’ve always been calmly terrified of failure and, only slightly less, because I haven’t been able to appreciate success as anything but not failure.
Crazy, I know. I developed my #Hustle work ethic as a defense against failure.
But my Hustle was born out of FEAR and a poverty mentality — protecting what little I had. For the first couple years of my business I did not truly Yes And professional opportunities. I cut out people, places and projects when they were not successful. I only saw success as not failure so Almost success was just As BAD as total failure, which was crushing. I depended on myself alone whenever possible so I could work at my pace and so I didn’t let anyone down. Anyone other than myself, who was rarely satisfied. I worked hard just to compensate for My own FEAR that I’d fail and not have anything to show for my effort.
For my adult life I also created and ended personal relationships so I would never be surprised by failure.
But I want it. More than ever I want success Now, because I’ve decided why. I’ve decided what success looks like AND FEELS LIKE. I want to hustle so that I can have a rich life. And I’m not afraid of failure. Because failure for me has never really looked like failure to anyone else. I’ve been thinking a lot about my grandfather and how much faith he had in me and what I could do, that literally ANYTHING was possible. I never truly believed in myself … I was just constantly trying to prove myself to Me. But Now I do. I do.
I want it more than I’m afraid of it — And that’s an INCREDIBLE feeling.
Thanks Cosby. (And Thanks George. I think about you all the time.)