Broadway entertainer Alton Fitzgerald White has accomplished much, including a record-breaking run as The Lion King’s Mufasa. Closing out #ASAE19, he shared five ingredients that fuel courage, persistence, and, ultimately, success.
Achieving success in whatever you endeavor is about marrying your passions and your purpose, said Alton Fitzgerald White, the six-time Broadway leading man who gave the closing keynote address Tuesday at the 2019 ASAE Annual Meeting and Exposition in Columbus.
“I could do all these things because my passion and purpose were aligned,” said White, whose Broadway repertoire includes a record-breaking 4,308 performances as King Mufasa in The Lion King.
To do that, you need to start with definitions. “I define passion as the gasoline, the fuel, the motivator, the energy that moves you forward, energy that just has to be expressed,” White said. “The purpose is the why. It’s the reason why you want to take those feelings that you can’t explain to anyone else because they are specifically for you—those desires you’re born with that want to be brought to the surface—that is purpose.”
White noted that powerful stories—such as Disney’s The Lion King and Hercules—show how passion and purpose play out over the course of a hero’s journey. Treating attendees to snippets of songs from those and other popular Broadway musicals, he highlighted points in these well-known stories where heroes struggled with their place in the world—struggles that most people have experienced in their own lives, he said.
Ultimately, when stories end happily for those characters, it’s because they found how to bring their passion together with a clear purpose, White said. He shared five suggestions with his audience to help them align passion with purpose.
Mindfulness. White described practicing mindfulness as “being in the moment. Being in the here, being in the now. I think you can only really effectively change anything by dealing with what is. Not what it used to be, not what it could have been, not what it should have been, but what it is. Practicing mindfulness helps when dealing with the challenges of it.”
Meditation. White cautioned skeptics not to dismiss meditation out-of-hand. “Some people say, I don’t have time to sit in a dark corner humming,” he said. “My favorite mediations are active. Cooking is meditative for me. Taking a drive—not listening to blaring music, but listening to the wind. Anything that calms your mind and gets you to a place of who you really are, what you really want, what your passions really are. That’s your meditation.”
Therapy. “I’m so glad the stigmas have been lifted off of therapy,” White said. “Therapy is a gift to give yourself. I always say, if you will hire a trainer to help you get into great shape physically, then why not hire a therapist to listen to your problems?”
Outside help. With mindfulness, meditation, and therapy tending to the inner you, White’s next suggestion focused on the outside world. “It is so important to tap into our resources. None of us can do it alone,” he said. “[The Lion King’s] Simba can’t do it alone. Hercules can’t do it alone. We’re not supposed to do it alone. There are always people who are willing to help.”
White suggested looking at who is in your contacts or network who might be able to help you with your need and giving that person a call. And if someone helps you, their generosity leads to his next suggestion.
Gratitude. “It is important to express gratitude for that, for the people who have helped us along the way: the parents, the teachers, the coworkers, the colleagues,” White said. “To express gratitude for how far we’ve all come.”