Like many of you, the news of the passing away of Chadwick Boseman, the actor who is renowned for being King T’Challa in the Black Panther; as well as his roles in other hit movies, came to me in a state of total shock. I couldn’t process it instantly as I learnt about it a few minutes after his family announced it via his Instagram handle 2 weeks ago.
It was not until the next morning when I worked up that it hit me! The Black Panther is gone! Really gone. He died of colon cancer, after having battled it since 2016. Yet those last 4 years of his life were lived with passion, purpose and epitome of grace, kindness and black excellence.
He inspired millions of black boys and girls worldwide by being their superhero. He inspired us their aunties, uncles, parents, by giving us the glory and joy of Wakanda, as Meera Estrada rightfully shared on global news.
Chadwick Boseman died without a single outer of discomfort despite privately battling with so much pain cancer must have caused him. He starred in some of his best movies that demanded physical strength and mental fortitude that is unimaginable, with all the chemotherapy he had to do in between.
The drive and ambition with which he lived those last 4 years of his life despite battling with cancer, is one that will continue to have a long-lasting impact on the lives of millions of people around the world. He put himself in service of positively redefining and retelling the African and Black narrative on-screen; creating a movement of Futuristic Pan Africanist and a spirit of Black Excellence that is unprecedented.
The drive and ambition with which he lived those last 4 years of his life since his diagnosis with the highest level of humility, service, grace, courage, truth and pursuits of a life of tremendous impact.
Boseman despite his struggles, managed to tell our story from a place of courage, strength and. He gave us hope, showed us what black excellence meant, inspired the diaspora to reconnect with their ancestral roots, taught us all the importance of self-determination, encourage us to take charge of creating our own reality, and reminded us to see beyond our reality and envision a world of freedom, opportunity and limitless possibility. He taught us to dream again and envision Africa and the Black world, we all desire and know is possible.
His life has taught us so much, especially as Black and Brown people the world over. So today, I want to invite you to take a moment to discover these 7 lessons we can learn from his life and things you can inculcate in your daily lives to honour his life as you blaze your own legacy:
Define what a purposeful life means to you and begin to live it
Purpose! Yes, that is the most important element of your existence. As Chadwick puts it, it is better to have a purpose than a career or a job. Many people are unsure what their purpose is, for starters, my good friend Dee of Well Worn Heels shared these three things one is supposed to consider in finding his/her purpose:
𝘞𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘴 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘤𝘢𝘯’𝘵 𝘴𝘵𝘰𝘱 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘬𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘢𝘣𝘰𝘶𝘵
𝘞𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘴 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘤𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘥𝘦𝘦𝘱𝘭𝘺 𝘢𝘣𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘢𝘭𝘮𝘰𝘴𝘵 𝘴𝘦𝘦𝘮 𝘣𝘪𝘨𝘨𝘦𝘳 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘯 𝘺𝘰𝘶
𝘞𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘰𝘴𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘴 𝘺𝘰𝘶 ha𝘷𝘦 𝘮𝘢𝘺𝘣𝘦 𝘵𝘳𝘪𝘦𝘥 𝘵𝘰 𝘢𝘷𝘰𝘪𝘥 𝘣𝘶𝘵 𝘬𝘦𝘦𝘱 𝘳𝘦𝘴𝘶𝘳𝘧𝘢𝘤𝘪𝘯𝘨
Today, I challenge you to step into your curiosity and focus on those things for starters. As she rightly points out 𝐏𝐮𝐫𝐩𝐨𝐬𝐞 𝐛𝐞𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐞𝐬 𝐜𝐥𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐞𝐫 𝐢𝐧 𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧. For those who are a step further, in defining and beginning to live in alignment with your purpose, consider answering these questions: What does success mean to you? What mission do you want to accomplish? Who do you want to serve? What stories do you want to change? What cause do you want to advance? And more importantly than anything else, what can you start doing today to fulfil that purpose?
2. Define and create a set of values and principles to live by
The life of Chadwick Boseman was one that amplifies purpose-driven courage and strength. It is one that showed he lived with a high level of kindness, honour, human dignity, love, mutual respect, gratitude; concern for his community and selflessness in service to others; in pursuit of social change, justice and the redefining black representation in film.
A particular incidence he shared during his commemoration speech at Howard University in 2018, depicts how he dared to stand up against the stereotypical portrayals of Black people in movies. He challenged a system that would usually relegate black folks as victims and thugs with no clear historical background, no hopes or talent. Although he temporarily suffered by being tagged ‘difficult to work with’ and lost out on a few roles; he eventually fell into his purpose. A new path opened up for him that landed him lead roles in two biopics, both of Black American icons: Jackie Robinson in 42 and James Brown in ‘Get on Up’. Subsequently, he played Thurgood Marshall, who became the first African American Supreme Court Justice in the 2017 movie Marshall. Most, however, will remember his iconic role as King T’challa, the first black superhero character in Black Panther in 2018. All these roles he played, aligned perfectly with his desire to represent Black heroes as shared by the Observer and this made him the biggest blockbuster actor in the world!
Chadwick made the decision to live by a set of values earlier on in his life, which became an integral part of him as an artist and a human being. These values guided him on his journey of building the legacy he did. In the tributes shared by many of his associates, they attested to how authentic he was and how his values guided his choices and interactions with all the people he came across. This is an important reminder for all of us to reflect, identify and begin to be more intentional about the set of values to live by. Values that are not just for show; they need to reflect in our daily character, work, and in our interactions with the world around us.
So in his honour, and as the marathon continues, I ask you to reflect and define what your values and principles will be moving forward within your life and work? My good friend Edem made this video that may help you discover and live your values daily.
3. Redefine your relationship with your work
Do you feel like work is a chore you need to get done? Or do you feel self-motivated to show up at it every day even when you don’t feel like it? Okay, serious talk, if you feel the former every day then you need to find something else, perhaps nurture a new skill, change your line of work or simply your perspective on how you view your work. The degree of passion, diligence and excellence with which Chadwick approached his work in film and purpose in life even when he knew he was terminally ill is exemplary of the culture needed to thrive in the future of work. He knew that his work mattered, he saw his work as an opportunity to serve, to challenge the status quo and to inspire millions to step into their full potential and use their gift to make a difference.
He was not only concerned about his performance but also about that of his team. So in the article I read, it stated that he would attend auditions for supporting roles in the films he was working on because he understood that developing a strong team that could perform as a whole mattered even more.
He knew that his work mattered, he saw his work as an opportunity to serve, to challenge the status quo and to inspire millions to step into their full potential and use their gift to make a difference. For Starters simply be a reminder that so can you too!
4. Acknowledge the people who help you in your journey while they are alive
During the ‘Black Panther Oscar Award acceptance speech’ delivered by Chadwick Boseman, he acknowledged the ingenuity, dedication and relentless pursuits of embodying the highest degree of excellence by his fellow cast members and director of the movie. Similarly, at the 2019 American Film Institute Award ceremony, Chadwick said explicitly’ There is no black panther without Denzel Washington’ to not only acknowledge Denzel Washington Sponsorship for his Summer acting program in Oxford while he was in college but also the many sacrifices he made to the culture of film, the things he refused to compromise along the way and the standard he laid for actors like Chadwick and the Younger generation to build on.
It cannot be overemphasized to pay respect and homage to whom it is due while they and you are alive, especially while at your journey to the top in whatever career or business path you are on. Imagine if Chadwick had taken all credits of his success unto himself all these years and died like that; do you think he would have made a kinda impact on us as he did? Think about it!
5. Live your life with a higher degree of urgency
Mortality motivation, a concept the consciousness of living a more intentional & purposeful life due to near-death experience and awareness of our limited time you have left on this earth.
It appears apparent now more than ever before that Same as Chadwick Boseman, he intensified the degree to which he lived his life to the fullest potential, in service of redefining the perception of Africans and Africa in the film as well as supporting children living with a terminal illness and simply being better decent human being till his last breath. He obviously loved his life well with so much love, passion, humility, kindness and decency, as expressed by those who knew him and the millions he impacted through his work worldwide.
You have to remember that what you do for others to give them hope, opportunity and uplift them to a better state of being far outweighed what you do for yourself and the wealth you accumulate in this world for ourselves.
That leads me to the closing points on this piece
Fame and fortune though amazingly awesome! Will not necessarily be the reason people will be moved by your death, remember to pray for you when you are gone or even draw inspiration from your life. So
6. Become more Intentional about living a little less self-centred
Do not be
Excessive self-centeredness most of the time lead to greed, lack of gratitude and ignorance of the reality around you. Chadwick Boseman literally reached the climax of a career in Hollywood, yet he built a ship that was big enough for more than one man. In his work he recognized that teamwork creates excellence, and contributing to that meant never seeing a role or responsibility as too big or too small as Asiya rightfully puts in in her article about leadership lessons we can learn from him; similarly, he was cautious about the role he played in film and how it impacted breaking stereotypes against black people around the world. In his free time, he volunteered at children hospitals to spend time with kids fighting cancer, should you want to donate to some charities in his honour, be sure to check out 12 organizations you can donate to now.
Think less about what you don’t have to do XYZ and more about how much you already have and can do
Become more mindful about the impact of your work, your consumption, your choices & lack thereof on the lives of others and the world at large: We are all selfish sometimes, that’s human! However, I challenge you to commit to considering others more often than you do now, don’t take my word for it, try it and experience the shift in your life
Create a do-good list: one daily, one weekly, quarterly and one yearly: in this list brain drop on a paper simple act of kindness, causes you to care about and make a conscious and deliberate effort to volunteer, donate or contribute in whatever way that you can right now at this stage of your life
Remember from Martin Luther King to Nipsey Hussle, to Kobe Bryant and now Chadwick Boseman; these people seem to have moved billion of people all over the world and their names becoming a dent on the universe due to the selfless service for humanity that they committed their lives to.
Last and most importantly,
7. Decide you simply want to be a better human being
It cost nothing to be a good empathic, genuine, kind, thoughtful or even generous! Like many have testified, Chadwick was humility and humanity personified. He was very kind, present, thoughtful yet fearlessly courageous; simply put he was a decent human being first before anything else. No wonder he was able to embody that naturally as artist renown for being the most eligible in bringing to life legendary black icons in history that he became one himself.
The drive and ambition with which he lived those last 4 years of his life despite battling with Colon Cancer, is one that has and will continue to have a long-lasting impact on the lives of billions of people around the world because those years arguably became his most impactful. He spent them in service of positively redefining and retelling the African/Black narrative on Screen that sparked global conversations and movement of futuristic Africa and a spirit of Black Excellence that is unprecedented.
I hope that you reflect on these lessons from Chadwick, find value in them and pick at least one thing to adapt to moving forward in your life and work to blaze your own trail, honour his legacy and amplify black Excellence and be African, Living Fully!
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Let’s keep the Wakanda Spirit, Forever!