The Most Important Life Lesson I Learned From Morgan Freeman

I know what you must be thinking. Why the heck are you writing about Morgan Freeman? What could be so interesting about him that you write a whole blog post about it?

Well, let’s take a look at his life and what he has done, and then you will know what I mean. Keep reading to reveal what is so freakin’ awesome about this guy.

The Nobody from Tennessee

Morgan Freeman came from a very humble background. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee in 1937 to working class parents, and grew up in parts of Mississippi, Indiana, and Illinois.

He found out at an early age that he loved acting and by the age of 12, he won a statewide drama competition in Nashville. In 1955, he turned down a drama scholarship and enlisted in the Air Force after high school. He made it to the rank of Airman First Class.

Photo Credit: www.ranker.com

In the 60’s, he worked in Los Angeles and New York as a Broadway actor and dancer, and finally made it into television and movies with bit roles. His first big break was on the children’s television show The Electric Company. It wasn’t until the 80’s when he got noticed, and started getting into movies with supporting roles.

The first time I ever heard about Morgan Freeman was in the movies Glory and Driving Miss Daisy. Since then, he has been seen in countless movies including, Street Smart, Kiss the Girls, Along Came a Spider, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Deep Impact, Bruce Almighty, The Shawshank Redemption, Batman Begins (as well as the other 2 Dark Knight movies), Million Dollar Baby, Seven, and March of the Penguins (as a narrator…just wanted to see if you were paying attention there.). And that is just a few of the movies he has done!

From this to THIS…

Photo Credit: www.pinterest.com and tricolortvmag.ru.

He’s played everything from an alcohol and drug abuse counselor to a chauffeur to the President of the United States. Other roles he has played include detective, boxing trainer, convict, high school principle, outlaw, scientist, hit man, mechanic, retired CIA, wizard, Nelson Mandela, and God! To name a few.

Just look at this scene from one of his earlier movies Clean and Sober. At first glance, you might think that Michael Keaton clearly is the guy to focus on here because he is just livid with rage. Yes, it is no doubt a brilliant performance by Keaton.

But just watch Morgan in this. Subtle, smooth, and nonchalant just in the way he walks! When I first saw that performance 30 years ago, I was amazed at the coolness of this guy. He didn’t have to scream in fits of rage or be the center of attention (in this case, a narcissistic asshole) to be effective.

A few things stand out to me when I think of Morgan Freeman and as I have followed his acting career over the years:

  1. He has almost never played a leading role. He has played mostly supporting roles.
  2. He has been nominated for dozens of prestigious film awards, both lead and supporting roles, but mostly supporting roles.
  3. He is one of the most respected and well-known actors in the business.

Why??

He is also not especially interesting to look at. He pretty much blends in with everyone else, except that he is fairly tall (6′ 2″). He doesn’t have a gorgeous chiseled face, bulging muscles, or even a broad frame that you see on many leading male actors like Clark Gable, Cary Grant, Rock Hudson, Richard Burton, Gregory Peck, Charlton Heston, George Clooney, Will Smith, Kirk Douglas, Dwayne Johnson, Leo DiCaprio, and on and on.

Why Do We Love Morgan Freeman?

So what makes this guy so appealing, and why does he keep getting movie roles over and over again? If he doesn’t get a lot of leading roles and the majority of his roles are almost always supporting roles, why is he so famous, and why do we know instantly who he is by name?

2 things. Go!

Photo Credit: www.funnyjunk.com

No, not Clint Eastwood and his gun!

  1. HIS VOICE! Have you heard his voice? Well, he is no baritone like James Earl Jones or Johnny Cash, but listen to that golden sweet rich sound coming out of his mouth! Man, that guy could convince me to buy a can of farts in a hurricane! It’s like eating french silk pie from the finest restaurant in New York, while gliding on a never ending rainbow of laffy taffy. It’s that smooth!
  2. He’s the “every guy”. He is the average Joe on the street who made it big. This is someone we can all identify with. Don’t we all love to support the dark horse (no racial inference there). He is not a show boater like Ali, or a punk like Beiber, or a loudmouth like Trump. He shows respect. He smiles a lot. And he is gracious. A little bit of integrity goes a long way, and this guy knows it!

He can even take a moment to poke fun at himself from time to time:

You think his voice is so great huh?

The Most Awesome Thing About Morgan Freeman

So why is Morgan Freeman so great? What do I think is the most awesome thing about him? It’s not just his voice or his cool smooth style.

He is VERSATILE and CONSISTENT. What does this mean? It means he not just consistent, but consistently GREAT at whatever he does. Whether it’s supporting a role in a dinky indie film, or playing God in a major blockbuster, or narrating a documentary about penguins, he is the picture of versatility. No role is too big or small for him. He doesn’t act like he is too important to take on certain roles. He doesn’t act like his shit doesn’t stink. He has not forgotten his roots.

This guy works damn hard at whatever he does, and always puts his heart and soul into his work! How many of us can say that as we grind through our daily jobs?

Think about it, the guy has been acting for 50 years! He takes his talent, recognizes it, and puts it to work time and time again to produce consistently amazing results. I’ve never seen him in a groundbreaking role, or saw him become an overnight sensation. Yet over time, he kept doing his thing. He is a true classic in every sense of the word, and I have the utmost respect for him.

It reminds me of the time I was on a sales call many years ago. I used to sell ice cream and frozen food door to door. Yes, I know what you are thinking “Are you crazy???? That sounds like a horrible job!” But you have to hear this story. It’s a good one.

How Far I Went to Make Sure I Did My Job to the Best of My Ability

Like I said, I used to sell ice cream and frozen food from a truck many years ago when I was a young man. And it was not a very glamorous job at all, let me tell you! But sometimes you have to do a job to make money.

Luckily, the company I worked for made sure I had an established route and paying customers on that route. It was just up to me to keep the customers happy and make sure I had what they wanted, when they wanted it.

Well one day, I stopped at a customer’s house way out in the boonies (aka the sticks, middle of no where, no man’s land, way way out of the city). I had an agreement with this customer, like many customers outside the city limits, to let myself into the garage, assess what they had in the freezer, and fill it with ice cream if it was low. Yes, people actually did this with their ice cream man, and trusted us that much! Those were the days in the 90’s.

This next part is probably going to make your heart race, because it sure made my heart race at the time, and it still does to think back on it. When I got out of the truck and made my way to the house, I noticed that their dog was sitting at the front steps.

I had noticed this dog before, but he was usually tied up by his doghouse away from the house. Obviously the customer was not at home and they had left the dog in front of the house. I thought “No problem. I’ve seen plenty of docile dogs waiting outside their master’s house, even ones that come up to me and greet me with tongue and tail wagging”.

But as I approached the front door, this dog went from lazy bum to standing straight up and bearing his teeth at me. I then did the dumbest thing ever in my entire life! I continued to move forward as if the dog wasn’t even there! I thought for sure he was going to back down and let me by.

BIG MISTAKE! Not only did he not back down, he came charging at me with mouth wide open, and was coming to attack me! This was about a 70 pound Labrador Retriever, and he was going to protect his master’s property at all cost against the intruder…ME.

When I saw him coming at me, I flew around as fast as I could to race back to the truck. But as I pivoted around on my foot and started to run, I slipped on loose gravel, lost my balance, and dove forward hands first into the gravel!

I got up as fast as I could, and barely made it back to the truck just before he caught my heels. As I sat gasping for air inside the cab, I looked at my hands. They were a bloody mess, with dirt and gravel embedded into the knuckles and stinging pain everywhere.

I never did make it to the garage to see if I needed to fill the customer’s order that day, but at least I tried to get past the dog to find out. I called the customer later that day to see if she needed anything, and it turned out she didn’t. So I was lucky. I never did mention the ordeal with the dog to her.

What Are You Going to Do Next?

Do you know someone who does consistently great work? When was the last time you told that person you appreciated them for their consistent effort and hard work?

Who is your favorite actor, and for what reason? Do you agree with me about Morgan Freeman, or is there another actor you admire for similar reasons? Tell me about it in the comments section.

If you have a story where you recognized someone at your job, or if you recognized a friend or family member for something great, or if someone recognized your consistently high efforts at something, tell me about that also in the comments section. I read every comment!

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Originally published at leapfroggingsuccess.com on August 21, 2016.