”Sometimes the scariest risks can be the greatest opportunities.”
So I’m walking down a street in Manhattan and run into a major moviestar sitting on a park bench. I’m in awe for two reasons: 1) he’s sitting right in front of me. 2)my wife and I saw him at the airport back in August. I was too afraid to ask for his autograph and too absent minded to give him a copy of my book I had just published. Talk about regret.
So here I was a second time, standing in front of the same actor, with a big camera hanging around my neck. I wanted to take a picture – I mean who wouldn’t – but at that moment it just didn’t feel right. I felt like if I did, I’d be like the paparazi – as my friend Andrew Seltz said, ”they don’t add anything to the celebrity’s life. They’re like parasites, hijacking a person’s fame for a dollar.” So I asked to shake his hand and said “God bless you.” He seemed to appreciate my gesture. That mental image is worth more than a digital photograph on my screensaver.
Afterward I called my wife from my office building two blocks away and told her what happened. She asked if I gave him a copy of my book, but I was afraid to do so. I was scared that this celebrity would reject my offer and reject my work which took me ten years to write and in rejecting it… he would be rejecting me.
Did I think that my book had merit? Did I believe it could impact the lives of its readers? I wrote the book in an attempt to be transparent about my struggles growing up into manhood – how I wrestled with low self-esteem and even attempted to commit suicide. I didn’t think I had a future that was worth living, but here I am over ten years later and God has blessed me with a better outlook on life. Yes, I believed that this book had promise, yet I was still afraid of being rejected by this celebrity. But, besides the fact that he made more money in a minute than I did all year, wasn’t he just like me and wasn’t I just like him? We were both human; both able to live, both able dream, both able to fear, both able to die…
So I walked back over to that park bench hoping he had left, but he was still there. I asked for a few minutes of his time, not sure what to say, and he politely turned in my direction and said “sure” with a smile. I fumbled through my delivery trying as best as I could to be genuine and transparent. Most of us can smell a fake a mile away.
Honestly, at that moment I wasn’t thinking about money or fame… just that here was a chance of a lifetime to potentially impact another person’s life and to be impacted and I would have missed it, if not for my wife… because I was too afraid to take the risk. It wasn’t until after he had accepted the book and thanked me that I began to get excited at all of the possibilities.
Will he read my book? I don’t know. It could end up in the garbage. He could read it and think that it’s terrible or it may impact him and change his life forever. I may never know, but such is the risk we take when we interact with other people. They could reject or accept us. Sometimes the scariest risks are the greatest opportunities. And because we fear the unknown we often never take advantage of opportunities that are right in front of us.