There was once a very wealthy and curious king. He placed a boulder on a very popular path in his kingdom and hid nearby to see how people dealt with this new challenge. As many people would be walking along this path and coming across the boulder, they would complain about the king and how he’d behaved by leaving this there on this path. Some even criticized him for not caring about his citizens.
Then on man came across this boulder, and he saw it and thought, “Why don’t I move this out of the way? This is causing so much pain and stress to my fellow villagers. I should move this away.” He started to push the boulder. It took a lot of pressure. It took a lot of strain. But after much effort, he managed to move it away from the path.
As he was about to walk on, he saw a small bag that had been laid underneath the boulder. He went closer to it and looked inside. The bag was full of gold coins. The king at this moment revealed himself, approached this gentleman and said, “You’re the person I’ve been looking for.” The man was actually confused. He said, “What is it that I’ve done?”
He said, “You were the only person in the kingdom to choose to move this boulder out of the way. And there’s a very important lesson here. Because you chose to do this, you’ve shown that any obstacle can turn into an opportunity for growth, learning, and success.”
Often all of us are greeted in life by boulders on our path, whether it’s in our careers, whether it’s in our relationships. And what we need to remind ourselves at that point is that we can either be like the people who complained and criticized, or be like this one person who decided to move the boulder and see every point of adversity as an opportunity for growth.
If you had just one shot, if you had just one opportunity – to seize everything you ever wanted in one moment – would you capture it, or would you just let it slip?
If you think you know the right answer, let me just say that when I was sitting in your shoes, my palms were sweaty, my knees were weak and my arms were heavy. When I got to the theatre, I almost immediately threw up on my favourite sweater, which sucked because it was my mom’s spaghetti, which I was near going to get back.
Obviously, I was nervous but, on the surface, I looked calm, and ready to drop bombs on the audience. That was my job as an actor after all, to put on an act. As soon as I walked on stage, I opened my mouth, but the playwright’s words were not being spoken. The whole crowd booed so loudly. No words were being said.
I choked. Some people even started laughing. I tried to redeem myself on stage buy I ran out of time. The clock had run out and “BLAM!”. My 15 seconds of possible fame were over and I had to snap back to reality. Gravity brought me back down to Earth. When people saw me on the street, they would say, “Oh, there goes the rabbit from ‘Harvey’ who choked.”
They made me furious, but I wasn’t going to give up that easy. I knew I had the talent to make it, despite the fact that I was broke. When I would go back to my rundown apartment, that’s when I decided to write my own material for the stage. I wrote my own play. My own rhapsody, if you will. Because I decided to capture the moment and not let it pass me, I controlled my own destiny, and allowed myself to achieve massive success, as a stage actor on Broadway.
Here I am today, humbly, so humbly, passing my story down to all of you. If you take away nothing else from what I say, at least take away this:
If you want to succeed in the real world, then you better lose yourself in the music of life.Lose yourself in the moment. You own it and you can never let it go. Most likely, you will only get one shot, and even if you blow it, you better not miss out on your chance to blow it. The opportunity that lies before you comes only once in a lifetime.
Control it, because you can do anything that you set your mind to.
On May 1, 1969, Fred Rogers appeared before the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee requesting funds to help support the growth of a new concept – National Public Television and his Peabody Award is a testament to that fact. We in Public Television are proud of Fred Rogers and I’m proud to present Mr Rogers to you now.
Mr. Rogers: Senator Pastore, this is a philosophical statement and would take about ten minutes to read, so I’ll not do that. One of the first things that a child learns in a healthy family is trust, and I trust what you have said that you will read this. It’s very important to me. I care deeply about children.
Senator Pastore: Will it make you happy if you read it?
Mr. Rogers: I’d just like to talk about it, if it’s alright. My first children’s program was on WQED 15 years ago, and its budget was $30. Now, with the help of the Sears-Roebuck Foundation and National Educational Television, as well as all of the affiliated stations. Each station pays to show our program. It’s a unique kind of funding in educational television. With this help, now our program has a budget of $6,000. It may sound like quite a difference, but $6,000 pays for less than two minutes of cartoons. Two minutes of animated, what I sometimes say, bombardment.
I’m very much concerned, as I know you are, about what’s being delivered to our children in this country. And I’ve worked in the field of child development for six years now, trying to understand the inner needs of children. We deal with such things as the inner drama of childhood. We don’t have to bop somebody over the head to make drama on the screen. We deal with such things as getting a haircut, or the feelings about brothers and sisters, and the kind of anger that arises in simple family situations. And we speak to it constructively.
Senator Pastore: How long of a program is it?
Mr. Rogers: It’s a half hour every day. Most channels schedule it in the noontime as well as in the evening. WETA here has scheduled it in the late afternoon.
Senator Pastore: Could we get a copy of this so that we can see it? Maybe not today, but I’d like to see the program.
Mr. Rogers: I’d like very much for you to see it.
Senator Pastore: I’d like to see the program itself, or any one of them.
Mr. Rogers: We made a hundred programs for EEN – the Eastern Educational Network, and then when the money ran out, people in Boston and Pittsburgh and Chicago all came to the fore and said we’ve got to have more of this neighbourhood expression of care. And this is what – This is what I give. I give an expression of care every day to each child, to help him realize that he is unique.
I end the program by saying, “You’ve made this day a special day, by just you being you. There’s no person in the whole world like you, and I like you, just the way you are.” And I feel that if we in public television can only make it clear that feelings are mentionable and manageable, we will have done a great service for mental health.
I think that it’s much more dramatic that two men could be working out their feelings of anger. Much more dramatic than showing something of gunfire. I’m constantly concerned about what our children are seeing, and for 15 years I have tried in this country and Canada, to present what I feel is a meaningful expression of care.
Senator Pastore: Do you narrate it?
Mr. Rogers: I’m the host, yes. And I do all the puppets and I write all the music, and I write all the scripts.
Senator Pastore: Well, I’m supposed to be a pretty tough guy, and this is the first time I’ve had goose bumps for the last two days.
Mr. Rogers: Well, I’m grateful, not only for your goose bumps, but for your interest in – in our kind of communication. Could I tell you the words of one of the songs, which I feel is very important?
Senator Pastore: Yes.
Mr. Rogers: This has to do with that good feeling of control which I feel that children need to know is there. And it starts out, “What do you do with the mad that you feel?” And that first line came straight from a child. I work with children doing puppets in – in very personal communication with small groups.
“What do you do with the mad that you feel? When you feel so mad you could bite. When the whole wide world seems oh so wrong, and nothing you do seems very right. What do you do? Do you punch a bag? Do you pound some clay or some dough? Do you round up friends for a game of tag or see how fast you go? It’s great to be able to stop when you’ve planned the thing that’s wrong. And be able to do something else instead, and think this song.
I can stop when I want to. Can stop when I wish. Can stop, stop, stop anytime. And what a good feeling to feel like this. And know that the feeling is really mine. Know that there’s something deep inside that helps us become what we can. For a girl can be someday a lady, and a boy can be someday a man.”
Senator Pastore: I think it’s wonderful. I think it’s wonderful. Looks like you just earned the 20 million dollars.
In the far east they have something that’s call the Chinese bamboo tree. The Chinese bamboo tree takes five years to grow. They have to water and fertilize the ground where it is every day, and it doesn’t break through the ground until the fifth year. But once it breaks through the ground, within five weeks it grows 90 feet tall.
Now the question is does it grow 90 feet tall in five weeks, or five years?
The answer is obvious. It grows 90 feet tall in five years. Because at any time, had that person stopped watering and nurturing and fertilizing that dream, that bamboo tree would’ve died in the ground.
And I can see people coming out talking to a guy out there watering and fertilizing the ground that’s not showing anything. “Hey, what’cha doing? You’ve been out here a long time, man. And the conversation in the neighbourhood is, you’re growing a Chinese bamboo tree. Is that right?”
“Yeah, that’s right.”
“Well, even Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder can see, ain’t nothing showing. So how long you been working on this? How long have you been working on your dream, and you have nothing to show… This is all you’ve got to show?” People gonna do that to you. And some people, ladies and gentlemen, they stop. Because they don’t see instant results. It doesn’t happen quickly. They stop. Oh, no, no, no, no. You got to keep on watering your dreams.
That is not gonna happen as quickly as you want it to happen. Lot of things gonna happen that will catch you off guard. And so therefore, you’ve got to deal with and handle it as it comes. And not only that, but that faith and patience drives you into action. You’ve got to keep moving. And keep plugging away.
During those hard times, we you don’t know how you’re gonna make payroll. During those times when you fail and things didn’t work out. They were nowhere to be found. But you know what I discovered?
When you’re working at your dream, somebody said, the harder the battle, the sweeter the victory. Oh, it’s sweet, to you. It’s good to you.
Why? See, when it’s hard and there’s a struggle, see what you become in the process is more important than the dream.
That’s far more important. The kind of person you become. The character that you build. The courage that you develop. The faith that you’re manifesting. Oh, it’s something that, you get up in the morning, you look yourself in the mirror, you’re a different kind of person. You walk with a different kind of spirit.
People know that you know what Life is. That you have embraced Life. You knew it was hard. But you did it hard.
There are 4 words that have killed more dreams than rejection, failure, or anyone in the world. So you’re probably wondering, “What are those 4 words?”
We all feel that rejection kills dreams. We all feel that failure kills dreams. We all feel that people kills dreams. [You can’t kill my dreams!]
But actually, there’re 4 words that we say in our heads. To ourselves. That genuinely have destroyed more dreams than all of those things put together. Those 4 words are… WHAT WILL PEOPLE SAY? What will people say? How many times have you stopped yourself from doing something because you’re scared of how people will react?
How many times out of the fear of someone else’s opinion or criticism have you stopped yourself from doing what you believe in? How many times have someone’s perception or perspective stopped you from living your potential? [Too many times to count…]
I want to tell you a story about a man and his father who were walking with their horse through a market. While they were walking through, one of the people in the market saw them, and he said. “You fools! You’re so stupid! If you have a horse, why wouldn’t you ride it? They thought, “Oh, wow, maybe that person’s right.”
So when they went on to the next market, this time, the young man got on top of the horse and the old man walked by its side. In the next market, another person saw them and shouted out, “How insensitive can you be young man? You’re letting your old father walk while you ride the horse. That’s completely inconsiderate!” The young man thought, “Oh wow, maybe that person’s right.” Out of that criticism, he got off the horse and allowed his father to ride the horse.
They arrived in the next market. When they arrived in the next market, one of the people saw them and said, “Oh my god! Old man, why are you being so inconsiderate? You’re being so lazy. You’re letting your son walk while you ride the horse.” Again, the son and the old man thought, “Oh my god, maybe this person’s right.”
And when they went to the next market, they were both riding the horse together. They thought, “This time, no one can have any complaints, no one can have any criticism.” To their surprise, one of the people in the market shouted out, “You’re both the most inconsiderate, lazy people I’ve ever seen. You’re both putting so much weight on this horse. How do you go to sleep at night?”
I love that story and that anecdote because it just shows, no matter what you choose to do, there will always be people who find fault with it. There will always be people who criticize, complain, who try to bring you down and tell you that what you’re doing isn’t right. [Haters gonna hate.]
It’s crazy that we give up what we most want in life just based on people’s opinions. And the crazy thing is, if we’re living for other people’s opinions, we’ll never be right. There will always be someone with something that they don’t agree with. And this is why it’s so important that we work with our own conviction. We work on what matters to us.
It was Aristotle who told us, “There’s only 3 ways to avoid criticism. Do Nothing. Say Nothing. Be Nothing.” And I’m sure none of us want that of our future. So don’t let anyone’s opinion stop you. Don’t let anyone’s criticism hold you back.
Keep following your passions. Invest in what you believe in. And remember: Don’t let people’s compliments get to your head, and don’t let their criticism get to your heart.