Today I'm going to share a story with you...
So let me tell you what happened. I was living in New York. I had a great time living in New York. It was fun, the people there are awesome and I was just hanging out chilling, “hanging out and chilling” means broke and pretty much homeless.
I was able to successfully break into some clubs. When I say "break in," I wasn't going in there and stealing stuff. It’s hard to get into clubs in New York, but I was able to get in some while I was there.
So, I move to Los Angeles. In Los Angeles is opportunity and when I say "opportunity" I mean my cousin got a couch I can sleep on. And he got four kids. I love them but still four kids, right? I'm on the couch asleep all crunched up.
But in Los Angeles, in my opinion, is the number one comedy club in the country, called The Comedy Magic Club. This club is so prestigious that I can't even get inside the club. But there's a comedian in town named George Wallace. He saw me in New York and told me I was funny and clean. He's like "Yo if you ever need anything from me, give me a call." But here's what's crazy, I didn't even have to call him. He happened to call me. Guess what he said? How'd you know? He said "Hey, you want to go to the Comedy Magic Club with me?" After I got off the ground from crying and whimpering, I said "Yes!"
We go to the Comedy Magic Club together. Now, he can't get me on stage but he can at least get me inside the club and into the green room. Now I'm in the green room with some soldiers in comedy--George Wallace, Gary Shandling, and Jay Leno. I'm in there and I don't even know if you can call me a comedian at the time. Like I'm doing my thing, but I'm hungry. Not hungry as in "Hey let's get this thing done", I'm talking about ...I was literally hungry.
So here’s what happens with these cats in the greenroom. Maybe you remember the football player who got hit in the eye with a flag. He was suing the league for like 400 million dollars. Now all of these guys are helping Leno on that subject for the monologue on the Tonight Show. I’m just sitting there. I ain't saying nothing. I'm just happy to be in the room with these dudes, sharing french fries. But your gift will make room for you. Then they got quiet and they looked at me and I was like "Okay, let me see if I got this right. He got hit in the eye with a flag. He lost his vision in one eye and he's suing the league for 400 million dollars.” So I say, “He’s not gonna see half of it." For real, the whole room laughs.
Success is when preparation meets opportunity.
A month or so later, the owner of the club, Mike Lacy -- awesome dude calls me up. He says "Hey, the Tonight Show team is down here. I don't know what it is but I'm wondering if you'd like to come down." I said "Yes.” I go to the club and they're doing auditions to find a new comedian to do the Tonight Show live via satellite. And here's the thing, it's never live, but this is supposed to be live via satellite from the Montreal Comedy Festival.
They're looking for one comedian. Well there are 10 comedians that they're looking at for the audition. I'm number 11. I’m in the green room. 10 comedians all there. You can feel the nerves in the room. Nobody wants to go on first.
The reason you don't want to go on first is because then you don't have an opportunity to read the room. You gotta see what the audience is like and you gotta get a feel for the room.
Then, out of nowhere I said like, "I'll go on first." So I go on first and do my set. I do four and a half minutes and try to bring the news. And then the next guys go on. Afterwards, the producer says to me, "Hey, we want you to be the one." I was like "Obi-Wan Kenobi?"
What's that dude's name from the Matrix? Oh, yeah, Neo. You want me to be Neo? (He didn't say Negro because that would have been a different show.) I get to be the one. He picked me!
So here's the thing, I'm getting on a flight. I'm headed to Canada. So I get there, right? It's time for me to do the Tonight Show. Now, listen, you gotta understand—THIS IS LIVE! If I walk on the stage and trip and fall, the entire country sees Michael Jr. fall. If I stumble on a joke, everybody sees it. And that's what they wanted. They wanted to build it up, pressure the new guy. Is it going to work? So I go up on stage. I do my set and smash it. I had a great time! Afterwards, the producer walks up to me in the green room. He said "Michael, I have to be real with you. When you went up on stage that night at the comedy club, I was actually irritated because I hadn't heard of you before and I was ready to go home. I just wanted to see my top three guys and go." He said "But because you went on first, I had to watch" and he shared with me the reason why he chose me. He said “and that's why you got on the Tonight Show." I was blown back!
Here's what I want you to grab from the story. You have way more potential than you probably think. I mean you have a lot of potential but you have to be okay being uncomfortable. You don't know your potential so you have to be uncomfortable to grow your potential. That is dope I should put it in a book or something.
Yes, in those moments I was afraid. You have to make sure that you're not choosing to let fear make some decisions for you because fear never makes a great decision at all. You might say, “Oh no, I don't want to take that call. I'm afraid of that.” I'm telling you, if you just look for opportunities to be uncomfortable in your gifting, it's going to cause you to expand to another level in a good way. Otherwise, if you're not okay being uncomfortable, as far as potential is concerned, you're only going to see half of it.