I’ve had an emotional attachment to Sylvester Stallone and his Rocky films since 1977. It all began when one of my secretaries told me she had seen a movie over the weekend that was a “must see” for me. She went on to say that Sylvester Stallone’s success with his first Rocky film closely paralleled my own success with my first book.
She explained that Stallone had done it all. He wrote the script, raised the money, and played the lead character. Unfortunately, there has been a several-hundred-million-dollar disparity between our respective returns on invested time and energy over the years, but tortoises get used to such inequities.
I’m still fascinated by Stallone’s amazing rise from troubled teenager to wealthy, famous superstar. Injured at birth, he has had a droopy lip and slurred speech throughout his life, making him as unlikely a movie star as a weightlifter with an Austrian accent and a name most people can’t pronounce.
At fifteen, his classmates voted him “most likely to end up in the electric chair.” Then, after stumbling from one job to another for several years, Stallone came upon the mother of all stumbles: acting. This happened while he was coaching women’s athletics at the American College of Switzerland.
After some bit parts and a “light” porn film, he wrote his first script, The Lords of Flatbush, in which he cast himself as one of the four main characters. Believe it or not, I actually saw that film back in 1974 — an abysmal piece of work — and I remember Stallone well.
He played a somewhat blubbery hoodlum in a leather jacket — not exactly a matinee idol. At the time, no one could have convinced me that the pudgy guy with the speech impediment would soon become the most famous actor in the world.
What’s so inspiring about Stallone is that his real-life success bears such a close resemblance to the success of his Rocky character. We’ve all read and heard much over the years about how every individual possesses a “hidden genius,” and Stallone’s life is an archetypal example of this.
He wrote his first Rocky script in just three days! That is genius — hidden genius, because he had never written a movie script prior to the incredibly bad The Lords of Flatbush, and he had limited experience with script writing and acting.
Had Stallone not stumbled onto acting in Switzerland, it’s quite possible he never would have discovered his hidden genius. Just think about that for a second. There would have been no Rocky series, no Rambo series, no Hollywood legend by the name of Sylvester Stallone.
So, clearly, the public at large stands to benefit when someone discovers his hidden genius. That being the case, if you would really like to do something for “society,” you would do well to make a serious effort to discover your hidden genius — then exploit it to the max.
All this raises the question: If a guy with a troubled childhood, slurred speech, and a droopy lip could become a film mega-star, what could you accomplish if you could discover your hidden genius?
Given that the rewards are so high — not just monetarily, but, even more important, the achievement of a fulfilling life — isn’t the pursuit of your hidden genius a worthwhile undertaking?
Which raises another question: How do you go about such a pursuit?
The short answer is that you need to get out, try new things, make calls, network with people — take action. The odds against a person’s finding his hidden genius are overwhelming so long as he chooses to lead a mentally and physically sedentary life.
Tip: Remember that when it comes to finding a meaningful purpose in life, the first two questions you should ask yourself are: (1) What do I enjoy? and (2) What am I good at? The answers to these two questions are likely to lead you to your hidden genius.
Why? Because if you can find something you both enjoy and are good at, it would appear self-evident that you could accomplish great things by focusing intensely on whatever that one “thing” is.
I recognize that it’s much easier to talk about than actually do. Rest assured, however, that the effort is worth it, because it could very well result in bringing your hidden genius to the surface and putting you on the path to where you want to be in life.