Comedian Dave Chappelle conquered the TV and movie scene for quite some time before he decided to take a step out of it. As part of saying ‘no’ to another season of the Dave Chappelle Show, he turned down a $50 Million Dollar contract, which puts him in the minds of most people as “crazy”. Crazy or not, he is a successful man.
I heard Dave tell a story of one of the first times he did stand-up comedy, and how he got booed off the stage. He was a teenager, and he was playing the legendary Apollo Theatre in NYC, a notoriously intimidating stage. He said that it was tough to feel such an embarrassment, to feel such a lack of validation, but afterwards it wasn’t so tough anymore.
You see my friends; Dave got booed off the stage. That’s the nightmare of anybody who is trying to make a living at stage performance. But afterwards, he looked at himself in the mirror and said, “Well, that’s what it’s like to get booed off. Hmm, not as bad as I thought.”
Fear can paralyze us and prevent us from trying something. It’s universally understood to have some type of fear, but sometimes even when that fear comes to life it’s actually not that bad. I’m not saying that you enjoy it, but it doesn’t ruin your life. Try to imagine your fear coming to reality, and if it did how would everything look? I’m not saying that unrealistic fear that doesn’t even make sense; I mean the fear that keeps you from going to the next level, the fear that keeps you from trying to take that next step.
Sometimes, it’s not that bad. It wasn’t for Dave Chappelle. He had the rare opportunity to fully experience his fear early on in his career, and then the blessing to see that even when his fear happened, it’s not that bad. He didn’t die and he didn’t ultimately fail. He channeled that newfound boldness into a million dollar career, where he says stuff and does stuff that most people are too afraid to try.
And interestingly enough, he wasn’t afraid to turn down $50 million dollars either.