I love to study people who have succeeded in life to see what they went through to get there. In every case so far, they have all faced incredible adversity where most people would have given up, but they didn’t.
Today I highlight Charlie Chaplain, one of the most famous comedians in history but his background wasn’t an easy one to overcome.
Born in 1889 in London, England, Chaplin’s early years were tumultuous at best. Born into poverty, Chaplin’s father abandoned them at the age of 2-years old, leaving his mother with no real income aside from the odd side job making dresses or nursing.
His father provided no financial support for the family and at the age of 7-years old, Chaplin was forced to go to a workhouse, an institution in the UK where the destitute denizens of a parish are sent to work in exchange for room and board.
After returning from the workhouse for a brief period, Chaplin’s mother was committed to a mental asylum, forcing him to go back to the workhouse again. Afterwards, a brief two years later, Chaplin’s father, a raging alcoholic at the time, died of cirrhosis of the liver.
Both parents struggled with life
Chaplin’s mother battled mental illness for several years after that, until she was permanently committed to an asylum where she stayed until her death in 1928.
In the meantime, Chaplin and his brother, Sydney, were on their own, oftentimes going without food for days while trying to survive in the wake of all the familial turmoil.
During this time, Chaplin partook in stage plays and enhanced his comedic talents along with his step-dancing abilities.
He never gave up hope
Using his mother’s show-business contacts, Charlie became a professional entertainer in 1897 aged 9 when he joined the Eight Lancashire Lads, a clog-dancing act.
His subsequent stage credits include a small role in William Gillette’s Sherlock Holmes (1899) and a stint with the vaudeville act Casey’s Court Circus.
In 1908 he joined the Fred Karno pantomime troupe, quickly rising to star status as The Drunk in the ensemble sketch A Night in an English Music Hall.
He got his first break in films
While touring America with the Karno company in 1913, Chaplin was signed to appear in Mack Sennett’s Keystone comedy films.
Though his first Keystone one-reeler, Making a Living (1914), was not the failure that historians have claimed, Chaplin’s initial screen character, a mercenary dandy, did not show him to best advantage.
Charlie Chaplain the Little Tramp was born
Ordered by Sennett to come up with a more-workable screen image, Chaplin improvised an outfit consisting of a too-small coat, too-large pants, floppy shoes, and a battered derby.
As a finishing touch, he pasted on a postage-stamp moustache and adopted a cane as an all-purpose prop. It was in his second Keystone film, Kid Auto Races at Venice (1914), that Chaplin’s immortal screen alter ego, “the Little Tramp,” was born.
A great story of overcoming difficulties
I am always amazed how much people have to go through to finally make it in life. It’s a long road of work and sacrifice but the achievements are worth the effort. First the pain then the pleasure. One of the ways to succeed in life is to defer pleasure.
I used to always seek pleasure first then the pain. I would borrow money to go on holiday and then spend all year paying it back with interest. I would buy the latest TV on credit and pay huge interest payments for years. I was always heavily in debt and running an overdraft in my bank account.
A small overdraft
My overdraft limit was £1,000 on which I paid about £30 a month in charges. This to me didn’t seem much so I carried on using the full overdraft for 20 years! It was only when I met and married Julie and she taught me about money management that I realised that over those 20 years I had paid £7,200 in charges!!
This blew my mind and I immediately stopped using the overdraft facility and started to understand how to use money effectively. We save for anything we want, and we don’t borrow money – ever!
I have no credit cards and no debt. In fact, this has hit me so hard that I feel sick just thinking about borrowing any money and owing money to anyone. This mindset shift has had a huge impact on me, and we are now totally out of debt with money in the bank. The house and cars are paid off and it is a unique feeling of peace being debt free for the first time in my life.
This week I had the privilege to run Masterclass 1 to the Derby College Higher Education Criminology Degree Students. This was a wonderful way to finish the week and to inspire some great young minds with Mind Resilience techniques to help them cope with pressure and stress.
This coming Monday I am delivering Masterclass 1 online to a company in Gibraltar which is a hugely successful young company. The way this contact came about is fascinating and I will share this with you in a future blog. I am also flying there next month to deliver Masterclass 2 and to watch a basketball match while I am there. There is a basketball connection to this story.
On Tuesday I am flying to Milan to deliver my Mental Resilience Masterclass to a large organisation on behalf of Live and Learn which will be a great experience. I have worked with this organisation in the UK, and they requested that the Milan office experience the same Masterclass which is a lovely endorsement.
Thoughts for the week
- How do you view pleasure vs pain?
- Do you put in the hard work first then enjoy the fruits of your labour?
- Or do you enjoy all the good things then suffer later.
- Whether it’s money management or work management it’s always better to feel the pain first then enjoy life.
- And remember you need to lift the weights in the gym for a while before you see the results.
Well, that’s it for this week, have a wonderful weekend and keep believing!