In 1990 Jim Carrey, a broke, unknown 28-year old comic in LA, decided to write a check to himself: For $10 million. “I wrote myself a cheque for $10 million for ‘acting services rendered’, gave myself ﬁve years and dated it Thanksgiving 1995. I put it in my wallet and it deteriorated, and deteriorated.”
Jim went from year to year, check in pocket, striving to make the money he had committed to pay himself, without luck. Then, in year 4 of the five years, at 32 years old, Jim landed his first major role in ‘Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, followed by ‘the Mask’ and ‘Dumb and Dumber’. Jim remembers, “Just before Thanksgiving 1995 I found out I was going to make $10 million on ‘Dumb and Dumber’”
To understand what an amazing story this is, rewind to Jim’s early years. When Jim was 12, his dad lost his accounting job and with it, their house: “My father lost his job when he was 51 and that was the real “wow”, the kick in the guts. We lived in a van for a while, and we worked all together as security guards and janitors.” Jim had to work eight hours a day in a factory after school and went from being a “’straight-A student to not wanting to know anybody’s name, and not wanting to make a friend.’”
The poverty lasted for years, and added to Jim’s long-held fear of losing the one thing he cared most about, his family: “My parents were heavy smokers. I remember locking myself in the bathroom and crying because I thought they were going to die. They banged on the door, telling me to come out.” “I remember being seven years old and my mother at the dinner table saying things like “My brain is deteriorating at an incredible rate!” or “My angina’s acting up; I could go at any time!” Things like that would just shake me to the core.”
Jim compensated for the dark times with humour. Asked why he wanted to be funny, he said, “Depression. I had a sick mom. I wanted to make her feel better.”
At 15, he got his first gig, at the Toronto’s Yuk Yuk’s club. His dad drove him there, and he wore a yellow suit his mother made. Jim’s debut bombed. But his father kept encouraging him, so Jim dropped out of school at 16, and moved to Hollywood to seek his big break at 19.
It was a decade later that, still struggling, Jim wrote himself the cheque. After four years with the check in his pocket, Jim’s dad passed away in 1994. Jim slipped the cheque in his wallet into his dad’s casket at the funeral, to thank him for believing in Jim’s dream. It was just a year after that, that Jim achieved his $10 million success. Since then, his movies have gone on to gross over a billion dollars.
De-briefing of this Story
If you were to write yourself a check today, to cash in five years from now (that’s 2021!), how much would it be for? What do you commit your life to be like, in quality as much as quantity? And what impact will you be having in the world? Once you’ve got your vision clear, go take action! Because, as Jim says, “You can’t just visualize and then, you know, go eat a sandwich.”
This Story can be used to share the importance of
2- Hard work
From the book, “Entrepreneur Inspiration” by Roger James Hamilton