Michael J. Fox and the Power of Gratitude
The child in all of us values our accomplishments more than the adult does. We always feel we can do more and are rarely satisfied.
Eric Stoltz had landed the role of a lifetime.
He had been hand-picked as a lead actor in a new Steven Spielberg and Robert Zemeckis movie, and the part was just about guaranteed to make him a bigger star.
Stoltz, a method actor, was determined to stay in character, even off-set. He only answered to his character’s first name and never changed clothes. He understood the impact of the movie from reading the script.
But two weeks into production, it became clear Stoltz wasn’t the right fit. He was a good actor, but in the wrong part.
So when Spielberg and Zemeckis convinced the producers of Family Ties, the hit television show, to allow Michael J. Fox to take time off and play the lead, Marty McFly finally came to life.
The role would go on to change Fox’s life — taking him from a star on television to a major, world-renowned motion picture actor.
Fox’s career was booming, when suddenly, at just 29 years old, he learned he had Parkinson’s Disease that would curtail his career.
He held back the diagnosis from the public, instead resorting to alcohol to hide his pain and depression. Only after his twitching and sudden movements became impossible to control did Fox come to grips with his future, stop drinking, and cease the self-pity, turning to gratitude for what he actually did have.
Many of us have been hit with a painful experience at one point or another — often leading to bitterness and the question: “Why me?”
We fail to understand why our careers have been derailed and search for excuses or scapegoats to rationalize the downturn. During these instances, we rarely consider our successes; we only see what was taken from us.
Yet, if we follow Fox’s path, finding gratitude amidst the hardship and embracing our actual achievements, we can shine a different light on our problems.
Had anyone in Edmonton, Canada, asked a teenage Fox if he would be satisfied starring in a leading role in a movie that made over $1 billion and become a franchise, he would have loudly said, “Hell yes.”
The child in all of us values our accomplishments more than the adult. We always feel we can do more and are rarely satisfied, thus removing our ability to be grateful.
But by practicing gratitude, we go beyond being thankful for ourselves. We learn to appreciate and help motivate others.
Without gratitude, we cannot be great leaders, teachers, parents, students or members of our community.
Remind yourself of your childhood dreams — and be grateful in the process.