Benjamin Pratt, Founder of SOV Media: I don’t know if you call it a dream, but something that I wanted to do, he basically said to me “You can’t do this. You can’t do this. You shouldn’t do this.”
It’s interesting to hear what motivates successful people. There is usually a story there. I don’t think most people are born that way. I mean there are Type A personalities, but normally there are events that shape a person.
And so I’ve been asked “What drives me?” I think it all goes back to the physical challenge that I’ve got, a nerve condition called CMT and it impacts that muscles because the nerve sensation doesn’t make it all the way to some muscles, just think of like a bad telephone signal. And so some muscles get stronger than others and as a result, other muscles atrophy and it mainly impacts hands and feet.
My hands are fine but with my feet they started to become imbalanced because the weakness in certain muscles in my ankles and calves. Through the process of analysis the situation and spending time with the surgeon or the doctor at Newington Children’s at Connecticut at the time. It’s now Connecticut Children’s Medical Center or something along those lines.
We determined that I had this condition, but I had always wanted to participate in the wrestling program at high school in the junior program. And I just didn’t have the psychical attributes of an athlete and this was going to be an aggravating factor of not having good feet and the muscle strength and balance and coordination but that didn’t stop me. I really wanted to do it.
And so I’m sitting there talking to the surgeon and I said to him “Look, I know I’ve got this condition and all but I really want is to join the junior program wrestling because I’d like to wrestle in high school and I’d like to do that for two years prior. What do you think?”
And he says to me “Have you ever considered playing chess?” That was it for me. That was…he just stomped on what my…I don’t know if I want to call it my dream, but something that I wanted to do. He basically said to me “You can’t do this. You can’t do this. You shouldn’t do this. Maybe you should go play chess.” And that was it for me. I saw red. I remember sitting there and having F-bombs screaming in my head. I didn’t say anything because my Mom is sitting next to me and having respect for a Doctor and what not, but I was mad.
And so I bottled it up. I still did the junior program and I joined the high school program to and nobody thought I’d last two weeks and I lasted four years. And I did well in a majority of my matches but it didn’t matter. It wasn’t about that. It was about conquering whatever those limitations were. I didn’t like the fact that people were deciding for me what I can and can’t do. And I was to just throw up the white flag and live within those boundaries.
And that became a habit and a little bit of a chip on my shoulder. Now, all that discipline, all that hard work, it pays off and you end up being successful as a result of it. And some people never let go of that chip. Me, I found peace. I found peace. I’ve been under the knife seven times with my feet. I’m now on my third, fourth surgeon. There was two in Connecticut and there was one who died of a heart attack here in LA. And so I’m on my fourth surgeon and he thinks I’m nuts. But he just understands that that’s just how I am, now. It’s habit.
And he said “Look, if we’re ever going to go into a war, I want to be in the foxhole with you.” But for me I like conquering that which is said cannot be done. And so if people tell me I can’t do something, that definitely motivates me.
But now that I’m 40, I’m happy, I’m happily married, I don’t think that I have much of a chip on my shoulder. But the drive, the motivation, that desire to conquer is habit now. So that’s what drives me and I use that as kind of my motivation. But I’ll never forget that moment when somebody told me it can’t be done. I hate it when people give up too easily. That pisses me off more than people quit too easily because it can be done. Maybe it should be done. Maybe it will be hard.
And you also have to recognize (sometimes) when something’s just not working but keep the drive to succeed and get wherever you’re at to a successful place. You never want to lose that fire. And that’s for me what drives me and I’m sure everybody else has their stories. Find something that you can grasp onto, that you can use, that you can use as your rallying cry, those moments where you count yourself to sustain you through the tough times, because there will be tough times and hopefully you push through and break out through to the other side.
Question: Would you have listened to the doctor and not wrestled?