In 2011, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson had reached a turning point. Unsatisfied with kid friendly releases like Tooth Fairy and Race To Witch Mountain, he knew that he desperately needed change in order to fulfill his aspirations of greatness.
“I was told that I had to conform to a standard in Hollywood that would beget me more work, better roles,” he explains. “Which meant I had to stop going to the gym, which meant I couldn’t be as big, which meant you had to distance yourself from wrestling. You essentially had to deconstruct yourself.”
When Johnson’s former agency CAA strongly cautioned him against going back into professional wrestling, he knew it was time to leave. The wrestling fan base built Johnson into a superstar. They were the one’s buying his merchandise and watching his movies. CAA was advising him to go against his base in favor of a Hollywood image that was going nowhere.
“I felt there were bigger and better opportunities,” he says. “I also felt there was franchise potential, hopefully multiple franchises in every genre — whether drama or comedy or action-comedy. I thought, ‘I want people around me who see this, too. And if we fail, that’s OK. We are going to fail swinging for the fences.’ “
Johnson met with Ari Emanuel (aka Ari Gold) on longtime friend Vince McMahon’s advice. Deeply impressed by their dedication, attention and understanding, he signed with WME and saw his career go a full 180.
In 2013, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson became the world’s highest grossing actor with his films bringing in over $1.3 billion.
For all of us, the information is there just waiting to be analyzed. You understand what you’re good at, what you’re bad at, what kind of environment you thrive in and situations you should avoid. You know what you need to be successful.
The Johnson’s stardom was built on his wrestling entertainment background. He’s one of the few to transition from wrestling to Hollywood. CAA wanted to change that persona, essentially creating a new identity. Johnson knew that it wouldn’t work, he wanted to be an authentic version of himself. And if it didn’t work, it would not be due to lack of effort.
Like Johnson, we all know what’s best for us and what we need to do.
Ultimately what separates the extraordinary from the average is the ability to act and follow through.
Early on in his career, Floyd Mayweather’s promotion company Top Rank focused on branding him as the next Sugar Ray Leonard or Muhammad Ali. Bob Arum, Top Rank’s CEO, refused to market him to the urban community based on the belief that they didn’t buy pay-per-view fights.
However Mayweather knew that if he could position himself as the champion of the urban community, that they would rally behind him just as they did with Mike Tyson.
So in 2006, Mayweather turned down an $8 million contract to fight Antonio Margarito. Mayweather instead paid Top Rank $750,000 to opt-out of his contact and become a free agent. If Top Rank wasn’t going to do it for him, he would do it for himself.
One year later, Mayweather landed his biggest fight to date, a Super Welterweight Title Fight with boxing’s biggest star, Oscar De La Hoya. It was a coming out party of sorts with the “Money” persona on full display for the world to see through HBO’s 24/7 Series. The fight generated a record 2.45 million pay-per-view buys and Mayweather earned a $25 million payday. The largest ever for a boxing free agent.
Mayweather knew what needed to happen. Top Rank was holding him back from superstardom. At the first opportunity, he left and has never looked back.
It’s important to remember that understanding yourself and making informed decisions applies to everyone, not just superstars and celebrities.
Two years ago one of my best friends was struggling to get by. A college dropout, he was serving tables to make rent and caught up in a lifestyle that wasn’t him taking anywhere. However he recognized very early on what needed to happen, where the change needed to come and what he would have to do.
To achieve his goals he couldn’t stay where he was, so abruptly one day he left everything and moved out to the West Coast. Battle tested from one project to the next, his effort continued to be relentless and eventually he earned his place. Now he’s living his dream in a position that uses all of his talents, running campaigns for some of tomorrow’s upcoming artists.
At times we’re all forced to deviate from our own character, our true selves. Whether it’s to fill a role at work, meet expectations or just to fit in with everyone else, we deconstruct ourselves to conform to the standards already set.
We do our best to justify the situation, this is how it has to be… this is what everyone at my age does… this makes me happy…
When in reality it doesn’t.
If you’re in a situation where your abilities aren’t being used properly or your current path isn’t leading toward your goals, you already know it.
It’s that feeling you have laying in bed, hitting snooze and refusing to believe that it’s Monday again.
The question is, since you already know where you need to go and what you need to do… what’s holding you back?
Trust your gut and make moves. You already know what’s best.
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