Lessons from John Travolta


Initially, I thought about naming this post, The Blessing of No Sportscenter. When I am at home, sports dominate my television: football, basketball, and highlight reels of other sports. Only when I watch movies are sports not playing on my small screen. However, at this hotel, there is no Sportscenter and as a result, I have had to find other programs to capture my attention. For a while, I looked at the numerous thirty minute commercials for exercise, food, and other products which embody awesomeness at the low low price of $19.95 or the reduced 3 (instead of 4) payments of $39.95. I am always so tempted to try these kind of products, but never actually make the call because I am cynical of the results. I eventually found worthwhile shows on A&E, Animal Planet, and Bio.

Quick note about Animal Planet: I witnessed a mother lion reunite with her baby cub, Solo, who had wandered away from the pride. Emotional! I thought about my mother, and her desire to know where I was when I was a teenager and the consistent arguments we got in when I did not call. That memory dominated my thoughts as young Solo haplessly searched for his mother, his protection. Being a parent is being a parent and I appreciate the love and concern that my mother showed me, though at the time it was all happening, I thought she was simply being annoying and overbearing. Thanks, mom!

Then I watched the bio of John Travolta, and realized early on that there would be some life lessons embedded. I jotted down the following notes:

-Had support of family- John had tremendous support from his family; his parents allowed him to drop out of high school for a year to get his career started and he never went back. To have that kind of trust and faith in one’s child is admirable.

-Lived in NY City in a condemned building with other actors- John found a group of other people with similar interests and they added support. He was able to be himself and express himself with little restraint.

-Did not listen to naysayers-One person told him that he should quit because of how hard the road to success would be, and he refused to take the advice. He exhibited a bullish stubbornness that enabled him to stay focus on his dreams.

-Did not get the part in The Last Detail-John failed, but positioned himself as a viable talent at an early age. He did not let disappointment dissuade him from following his dream.

-Involved in Scientology, mental health-It seems that all Hollywood A-listers belong to Scientology, about which I know very little. In this visual biography, John explains that he joined in order to learn how to deal with stress. Strikingly, he mentioned wanting to learn about a power bigger than him and he found it.

-Had to overcome the prejudice of television actors not acting in movies. Once again, he did not let others determine his faith for him. Once again, his passion for acting, regardless of the venue, persisted and came through in his work.

-Dealing with death and disappointment–As his career primed to explode with the filming of Saturday Night Fever and Grease, his then girlfriend has a renewed battle with cancer, which she lost. After the release of Grease, his mother passed away. In the course of the year, he lost two of the most important people in his life. Through it all, he continued to work and follow his dream.

-Learned how to party-While filming “Urban Cowboy” he learned how to party with abandonment; he realized that it was not about who’s at the party, but about enjoying oneself.

The two most consistent qualities seemed to be support from others, mainly family, an unwavering confidence in who he is, and finally a unique work ethic.

I wish to emulate his blueprint to success!


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