Twenty years ago I started to work professionally as Forrest Gump. Here is that story.
Is life not a thousand times too short for us to bore ourselves?
Beginning sometime around year 6, I started to get bored.
Sitting on the bench was fun, but it started to feel like I was having the same conversations over and over and over again – which I was.
Passion goes, Boredom remains.
The grand openings were a lot of fun and a chance to do media and speaking – but they were only occurring about once a year.
All my previous jobs in my career lasted from four to six years, so the timing was right for me to get antsy.
I didn’t have another job that I necessarily wanted to do. I knew what I was doing was special. I had to figure out a way to keep myself busy and occupied during my off time so that my Friday, Saturday, Sunday normal work schedule was fun and something I looked forward to doing.
Boredom comes from a boring mind.
I made an important decision. I decided that the most important thing I needed to do was show up to be Forrest in a good mood. If I was in a good mood when I arrived, it was easy to talk to people. If I was not in a good mood, it was more difficult. If I wasn’t in a good mood, my lizard brain would start telling me this isn’t any fun!
Here are the critical things I needed to perform at a top level:
- Be well rested
- Arrive properly feed
- Keep myself well hydrated throughout the day
- Pace myself – it was impossible to work at a frenzied level for 3 straight days
During my off days, I developed a routine to keep my health and sanity:
- Stay out of the sun
- Rest my voice
- Occupy myself with various projects
One big project I undertook during that time period was the remodel of an investment property in San Jose. That alone took several years.
I’ve got a great ambition to die of exhaustion rather than boredom.
I also started taking regular trips. For fun I took trips to Brazil, Kazakhstan, Germany, Ukraine, England, and Scotland. For side business jobs, I travel to Australia and Uruguay.
I pursued the idea of a mail-order bride for several years and made four overseas trips to meet eligible ladies.
My passport was getting filled up. I was curious and exploring the world.
The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.
Eventually, I ended up purchasing some property in Montana with the idea that someday I’ll move. I initially thought I’d move when the Bubba Gump job was done. But at year ten – only three years after purchasing the property – I decided to move to Montana and work part-time for Bubba Gump. I worked part-time for another five years.
I always knew that this special job that I had would one day come to an end. I started to ask myself, “What’s next?”
On February 11, 2005 I was in TV green room waiting to go on the air and promote a 5K run. I struck up a conversation with a man who was promoting his new book. His name was Mark Sanborn. Mark was a professional speaker and told me about NSA. I blurted out, “That’s what I want to do!” Mark introduced me to NSA (National Speakers Association) that day. My new project became learning all I could about the speaking business. I was going to be a professional speaker.
From years one to five as Forrest, I was busy getting good and learning how to do media, speaking, and being an entertainer.
By year five or six, most of my Forrest duties had become routine. To keep performing at a high level, I involved myself with various projects and activities. I reminded myself regularly that this job was special. I was fortunate to have a unique, one-of-kind opportunity. I needed to show up in a good mood each and every time I put on the costume. The challenge of the job had shifted from learning new skills to learning to control my mindset.
The final part of this 10-part retrospective on my 20 year anniversary is about the joy of the last five years. I knew each day I sat on the bench that I was one day closer to my last day as Forrest for Bubba Gump Shrimp.
But in the meantime, I had learned how to entertain myself being Forrest on the weekends and being Steve during the week.
Next up. Part 10: Riding the Wave to Shore