If you are anything like me, you are striving for that next level. I’m always hoping and searching for that next breakthrough. Recently I had a big reminder of what used to work in my early days of struggle.
A little backstory is required to understand the depth of this example. When I went to business school, one of my friends, Silvereo “S.A.” Araujo, was an amazing athlete. He was born in Portugal and grew up playing soccer. He played soccer for our school, Bryant College. Though I was not really a soccer fan, I used to love watching him play. Silvereo held a school scoring record and was an all-American athlete, and he always a step ahead of everyone else on field. Watching him play was like watching a master at his craft. What I appreciated the most about S.A. was his infectious smile and the way he made everyone around him feel good about themselves.
After graduating from college in 1989, he married his college sweetheart, and life looked great. In January 1992, while visiting his sick grandmother in Portugal, S.A. unexpectedly died in his sleep. It just wasn’t right. A life cut short much too soon. It affected me deeply.
If you know my story, you probably know that I started attempting stand-up comedy in 1992. At around the same time, Mariah Carey and Boys II Men released a song entitled “One Sweet Day.” It made me think about S.A. Some of the lyrics go like this:
“And I know you’re shining down on me from heaven
Like so many friends we’ve lost along the way,
And I know eventually we’ll be together
One sweet day.”
With no talent, confidence, or a proven comedy routine, I was terrified to walk into comedy clubs. So how did I get myself to face that fear, lack of confidence, and self-doubt?
“If you hear the voice of doubt, drown it out.”
How did I drown it out? Answer: a mixed tape with significant meaning. (If you are younger than 40 and wondering what a mixed tape is, Google it.) I nervously sat in my car outside the comedy clubs and listened to three songs, only two of which I can remember now. I remember the first two because of their meaning, their purpose, and the feeling they gave me. The first was “Right Now” by one of my favorite groups, Van Halen. It was a reminder that all that mattered was that moment. What people thought and said about me did not matter. All that mattered was what I did right then.
The second song, as you have probably figured out, was “One Sweet Day.” S.A. was taken too soon. He made people feel good about themselves, and now God needed him. Who would fill that void? He lost his life, but what did I really need to worry about? The worst thing I could do on the comedy stage was bomb, and I could learn and grow from even my biggest bombs. Each one was a stepping stone to my career today.
This past weekend I went to see Boys II Men in concert in Las Vegas. Yes, I may lose my man card, but they were still great 25 years later. It brought me back to that song and those moments sitting outside those clubs. It moved me so much that I knew I needed to write this article. Thank you, Mariah and Boys II Men, for your passion and commitment to bringing the song to life. Music is a powerful tool if you can use it to help with a breakthrough you are seeking.
Who S.A. was on and off the field mattered. That’s why losing him was such a shock. He was an athlete in great shape and died unexpectedly. It reminded me that life can be cut super short.
I need to work constantly on improving who I am on and off stage. I’m hoping to learn from my own past and use this reminder to help with my next breakthrough. You? Every day we have an opportunity to influence people. Don’t let the stage be the only place where you focus on being an influence.
This picture of S.A. still sits on my desk today. It had been in the background, but I pulled it forward and gave it prominence again. Who is your S.A.? What is the song that helps you drown out the voice of doubt and makes you feel empowered? Let it be a catalyst essential II your next breakthrough.
Article from my college newspaper about S.A.:
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