Terry Gross interviewed Tyler Perry on Fresh Air a few weeks ago. I almost changed the station since I didn’t have a strong connection with Tyler other than knowing that he put his name on all of his movies and – to be quite honest – imagining that he must be fairly egotistical to do that.
But something about their conversation hooked me and I listened to it all. It turns out that Tyler is an incredibly articulate and thoughtful person and he shared a story that beautifully expresses the connection between our inner and outer worlds.
You’ve likely heard the phrase “get the inside right and the outside will follow.” The idea is that our inner landscape is reflected in the world we see around us. So if we want to change the outer world we need to begin by changing our inner world. The story Tyler shared is one of the most powerful examples of that concept that I have heard.
Tyler launched his career in 1993 with a stage show that he self financed. It bombed! He lost everything. Fortunately someone in the audience loved the show so much they invested in him so he could do it again. Next time… it bombed again. Over and over he showed up and over and over again the performance tanked.
Then, in 1998, it became a huge hit, an “overnight success,” selling out multiple shows.
What happened? What was different?
On the outside, nothing was different. He had made minor changes to the script but nothing big enough to explain the difference.
Could it have just been persistence? Or maybe something shifted in his chart that opened the way to success!
But there was another factor at work. During those 6-years of “failure” Tyler had been working on his inner world.
The show was about the power of faith in overcoming old wounds including child abuse. It was based on Tyler’s own experience growing up with an abusive father. But even though there was forgiveness and redemption in the play, during those first few years, Tyler had not found that forgiveness in his own life.
Here’s a quote from Tyler:
“I think that’s why the show wasn’t doing well up until ’98, because I hadn’t forgiven [my father] up until that time. There was so much anger and frustration, and I was self-sabotaging so many things without even knowing it because I hadn’t let that go. But once I learned that, [I was] free to go on.”
Tyler goes on to say, “It’s simple: when you haven’t forgiven those who’ve hurt you, you turn your back against your future. When you do forgive, you start walking forward.”
From 1993 – 1998 Tyler had been producing that show with anger, resentment and hatred in his body, mind, heart and soul. The results of the show reflected his inner world. But as soon as he found his way to a place of forgiveness the energy of peace and love from within fueled the success of the show in the outer world.
Now, it’s safe to say that the forgiveness Tyler Perry found has fueled a lot more success. His movies, books and plays have touched the lives of millions of people. Using humor and caricatures he has addressed themes that are often difficult but important for us to look at.
And his work has also become a source of great personal abundance as well with Tyler now one of the highest paid people in the entertainment industry.
Tyler did the work to “get the inside right” and the outside certainly followed.
Where in your life are you feeling stuck? If there is something in your outer world that seems difficult or frustrating or challenging it may be time to shift your focus from the external experience and put some attention on your inner world.
Perhaps if you get the inside right the outside will follow easily and gracefully.
I’d love to hear your stories about the times when you have gotten the inside right and watched the outside follow. Leave a comment below!