Sunday, August 25, 2013

Pep Talk: "A Cue from Kyle"

I’ve always admired folks with guts. My son has guts. Good for him.

Those thoughts were rummaging around in my head while driving toward Denver International Airport. I was meeting darling fiancee there for a trip to Los Angeles to visit with my son Kyle, who’s working hard to make a mark in the entertainment world.

The drive came on the heels of presenting a Pep Talk to about 70 Kaiser Permanente employees. These are wild times in health care, with major reform already underway. We talked at length about the importance of staying united in the daunting task of achieving goals and overcoming challenges in a controversial industry. We also talked about the importance of shoving fear and self-doubt aside and allowing courage and wonderment to win. Kaiser Permanente and other providers are at ground zero of America’s attempt to fix a broken system. Some out-of-the-box thinking is required. Guts.

Which takes us back to my 23-year-old son Kyle. Back in his middle and high school days, the talented thespian starred in many productions. Performed quite well, especially as a character actor. I’ll never forget, with perfect inflection and accent while starring in a play named after its lead character, Kyle pronouncing, “The name’s Malone. Bugsy Malone.” Awesome.

But it was another lead role that especially speaks to guts. He had to play Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls. The role required him to sing Frank Sinatra’s hit song, Luck Be A Lady. Kyle really had no interest in singing, but to secure the lead it was required. He threw caution to the wind and, while auditioning, acted and sang well enough to earn the marquee spot.

At that time many years ago, I started listening to Sinatra’s song all the time while driving heretofore around the Denver metro area. I have always loved Sinatra, but considering my teenage son had to sing one of his well-known numbers for the show, this song took on new meaning. Even today, every time I hear that song, it makes me think of Kyle.

Opening night. The theatre is packed. Kyle and other youngsters are entertaining the heck out of an adoring crowd. The moments nears where the middle-schooler must sing his solo while serenading the female lead. Kyle would be the first to say it could have gone a little better, but man, what an effort.

I sat there with tears in my eyes. Overwhelmed and bursting with pride and admiration for the courage and guts a young man displayed in plunging into the great unknown. He took a big leap of faith. No guarantee of success, but what the heck, nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?

After the Kaiser presentation, I was visiting with one of the audience members. A delightful woman wanted this simple dude from Missouri to repeat a quote from Shakespeare that’s frequently muttered when having the privilege to stand before a group and offer encouragement for the road ahead.

When imploring crowds to not allow fear to sidetrack goals. I joke, “If you don’t believe me, how about Shakespeare?” I love what the literary icon had to say about the subject when proclaiming: “Our doubts are traitors that make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.” Amen brother.

Life is often complex and the thought about casting fear aside and allowing wonderment to win can seem the last thing to consider. Do it anyway. But don’t try this alone. Engage with like-minded folks and encourage one another to persevere on what, probably, will be a bumpy journey toward achieving goals and overcome challenges. Rarely is it easy.

Take a cue from Kyle and leap into the future. Since that moment about a decade ago, his interests have taken him behind the scenes, which these days include a lot of comedy production for Russell Brand, Nick Kroll and shows like HBO’s Veep and the critically acclaimed Arrested Development. 

Along Kyle’s journey, impressive intestinal fortitude continues to emerge: few thought the sharp young man would gain entry into New York University or land consistent employment once he departed the storied film school and headed west to Hollywood. All of them were wrong.

Despite setbacks along the way, the funny guy has stayed focused on working hard and not allowing challenges to extinguish the fire to succeed in the tough and competitive entertainment industry.

We all have those moments where we must decide. It might revolve around home, work or elsewhere. Those times in life where we must declare, “Opportunity’s knockin’ and I’m casting fear aside and allowing wonderment to win!”

This week, take a cue from Kyle. Dig deep and tap into some intestinal fortitude. It might take you to a new frontier never before imagined. Good luck!

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