In episode #514 of The School of Greatness podcast Lewis Howes interviews Wilmer Valderrama (Fez from That ‘70s Show).
I expected to get a few laughs out of it but I took away much more.
During the interview Valderrama shares a lot of his experience growing up: what it was like to grow up in Venezuela, what it was like to move here in his early teen years knowing little to no English and what it meant for him and his family when he got his big break on the show.
One hour and eleven seconds in to the interview Valderrama shares a pivotal point in his life and in his career. He had gained even more traction and his plate was full. In one season he was filming a movie (Fast Food Nation), still shooting episodes of That ‘70s Show, he was the voice of Handy Manny and was recording episodes of an MTV show (Yo Momma).
He had anxiety, not necessarily because he wasn’t sleeping or because he had no down time but because he wanted to know what was next. What else could he get involved in? What should he be doing to make sure that this momentum his career had gained wouldn’t lose its force? He said he was addicted to the idea of “how much more can I do?” and it was consuming him.
In the middle of this internal struggle he had the opportunity to meet Johnny Depp, a career icon of Valderrama’s. During their conversation Valderrama shared how he had been feeling, the anxiety he felt over needing to keep “the train moving.”
According to Valderrama what Depp said next changed everything in him.
“What’s the hurry?”
One simple question and Valderrama said he knew exactly what Depp meant. Life was a marathon and not a sprint and it was okay to take your time.
Depp then asked Valderrama what type of actor he wanted to be.
Did he want to be someone who took on any role or did he want to take his time, choose carefully and craft his legacy? Valderrama said he took that question and really asked himself how he wanted to be remembered and that changed his thought process from then on.
After his conversation with Depp, Valderrama said he started to relax, to allow life to happen and not try to force it as much. If something was meant to be then it was meant to be and if not that was okay.
He spends his days now doing the things he likes; it just so happens that the things he likes tends to help other people.
I have a lot that I want to do in these short 80+ (hopefully) years on this planet and at times I feel like there’s never going to be enough to accomplish it all; never enough time, enough grit or enough hustle.
Instead of trying to check all the boxes I think I’m going to start asking myself what I want to be remembered for. I think I’m getting close to discovering what that is and as soon as I have a clear vision of what that looks like I promise I’ll share.
In the meantime I’m going to try to relax a little, to work hard and then remember to breathe. To make more space for the people I love and trust that the things I love will fall into place.
Because in the words of Valderrama’s father, “If it happens, good. If it doesn’t happen, good.”