I know nothing about Mahershala Ali, but in my humble opinion, he gave a great acceptance speech for winning the 2017 Best Support Oscar for his role in Moonlight.
What did I connect with? First, he started off by thanking his teachers, which I thought was a classy move. But what I really connected with was the gist of his speech.
“It’s not about you. It’s not about you,” his teachers instructed. “You’re in service to these characters.”
You are in service to these characters. What I heard was this: You have a role that is bigger than you.
To me, it hit home with my current coaching role as an assistance on my daughter’s basketball team. It’s never about me. It’s about the girls. It’s about the team. It’s about the entire experience for the organization, but it isn’t about me.
It hit home with my role as a father and husband. It’s not about me.
It hit home with my role as a psychologist. It’s not about me.
It hit home with every role I play. Whether son, friend, coworker, bypasser…..it’s not about me.
I’m a conduit for my role. That’s what it should be about. It’s separate from me, not about me. It’s not about my ego. There’s a bigger picture, and there’s not just a role. There’s a plot, a scheme, a theme, a purpose.
Perhaps it’s just a faint whisper of my ego still talking, making up a reason for my existence, but what I heard tonight is that I am in service to these characters. Without service, it’s about me, and if and when anyone else adopts that same belief, we’re going to have problems.
I can hear that voice: It’s not about you. It’s not about you. You’re in service to these characters.