I am a living witness that if you’re brave enough to dream it, it can happen. You’ve got to be determined that no matter what it takes you’re not going to stop, you’re not going to quit, you’re not going to give up until you make your dream become a reality. When I leave this place it’s to help you come that much closer to making your dream become a reality.
2013 was the Why. So what happens is, as you grow, and as you develop, and as you improve yourself these new concepts start to come. And so the why had always been a part of my life, but I was able to tap into – 2013, I was able to tap into that why in a way I never tapped into that why before.
Are you excited? I’m going to be a millionaire! I’m going to change the world! I’m going to do this for this person, I’m going to buy this for my mom; my children, I am going to put them through school! You got all of these great dreams… and then you get up in the morning and life punches you in the face.
ET, just like you, I get punched in the face… Now you don’t always know about it, I don’t always talk about it because I don’t want to discourage you. But I have had multiple aunts, at least two or three aunts die of cancer in the last four or five years – we all get knocked out! Life hasn’t been a crystal stair; I’ve had my haters, I’ve had people who’ve come against me, who try to sabotage me.
I’m like the lion, I’m not the gazelle – I don’t need something external to motivate me. I find something within! And you got to do me a favor like, you can’t give up. You can’t give in. Listen to me; if it was easy everyone would do it. And if life’s got you backed up I need you to do what Buster Douglas did; Buster Douglas started fighting back. He said ‘I know you knocked out thirty other people before me but I will not the thirty-first.’ And finally they got to that round… where Buster Douglas knocked Mike Tyson out. And the world was shocked! Goliath has been knocked down, what happened!? And they went to Buster Douglas and they asked Buster Douglas simply like, what happened? And Buster Douglas said, ‘Listen to me – I’m just going to be honest with you guys. Here was the challenge, the challenge was, it’s real simple… before my mother died she told the whole world I was going to beat Mike Tyson. And two days before the fight my mother died.’
Buster Douglas had a decision to make; when his mother died he could die with his mother, or he made a decision, I can wake up, and I can live for mom! And he knocked Mike Tyson out simply because his why was greater than that punch.
Find that reason to wake up every day and go get it. Everybody’s got a dream, everybody’s got a goal. But when you write your why down, what your why does for you is says: You can’t quit! You can’t give up! You can’t stop! If there’s no money you make up something – you go print it. If nobody’s giving you an opportunity you create it. But what I can’t do is I can’t let me son down. I can’t let my wife down. I can’t let my parents down. I can’t let my city down. And for you your problem is your just focusing on your dreams and your goals; and you’re not focusing on why. Why? Why do you want this? Why do you get up in the morning?
Somebody said, ‘ET, why do you get up at three o’clock?’ Why not? If all I have to do is wake up at three o’clock in the morning and my family can live like they want to live, and I can change the world… three o’clock? Have you lost your mind? I will get up at three every day. Why? Because my why is greater than my sleep.
What makes a person average is their focus. Like an average person is focusing on getting paid – that’s why they’re average. A person who’s good, he’s focusing on, I want to make my boss happy. A person who’s great, his focus is what need can I meet? His focus is different – same human being but his focus is entirely different. Your concentration is supposed to change, and so what you’re focusing on throughout the course of the day, it has to change. What you’re looking at, what you’re reading, what you’re watching, the conversations you have… you must now be focused on your why, you must be focused on your dreams, and you must be focused on your goals.
When you’re great you don’t focus on a week. When you are great you don’t focus on a month. When you are great you don’t focus on a year. You concentrate on the twenty four hours that’s in front of you and you nail it!
You heard me tell the story with the lion and the gazelle; you’re still stuck, you’re a gazelle. You are a gazelle – you need something to motivate you. What happens to the gazelle when the lion aint chasing him? What happens is nothing. He stops running; why? Because he always needs something external to motivate him.
There are a lot of people, you’re not successful in life not because you aint got talent, not because you aint got skills, but your character aint right. And I told you this before, that if you’re not careful, your talent will take you places that your character can’t keep you. So what’s your motive? The reason why you can’t get up at four o’clock in the morning, the reason why when I say ‘get up at six,’ you’re looking at me like I’m crazy, it’s because you don’t have that thing that’s driving you, that’s pushing you to say no to the alarm clock and wake up; no to the snooze button. When you get that extra assignment, that extra lot, the reason you can’t do it is because you don’t have the right motive that’s pushing the action. What’s your why?
Somebody came up to me and said, ‘ET man I’m tired. I put in the work ET I’m not seeing the results. I did what you told me to; I read the book you told me to read, I put in the hours you told me to put in – E I’m doing it and I’m not seeing anything.’ Listen to me closely, why do you do what you do? And that’s so important. It’s not enough just to be a doctor; you’ve got doctors who got terrible bedside manners, terrible. You got lawyers who are skilled but arrogant – we’re talking about character right now. What’s your motive? What moves you? What drives you? And whatever it is-sports, life, business, whatever it is; health-listen to me very closely, you’ve got to change that mindset.
Even in your action, while your action is good you have to ask what drives it? What guides it? What moves it? What’s the spirit behind it? What’s the reason behind it? What’s the purpose behind it? When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breath, when you aint got nothing left in your tank, you’ve got to think about the people in your life that you’re doing this for. And then if you could think about them, you could go one more mile. You could go one more day at work. You can find a scholarship. Listen to me, when you’re doing it for someone else, when you’re like that lion… If I don’t grind they don’t eat!
This is it, I can’t – I wish I could back off but its fourth quarter. I wish I could tell you something else. I wish I could tell you, ‘You tired? Go take a break.’ I wish I could tell you, ‘You tired? Rest for a year.’ I wish I could tell you that it’s going to get easier – I wish I could tell you it’s going to get easier! I wish I could tell you that if you just keep going it’s going to get lighter, the weight is going to get lighter. I wish I could tell you that, but that’s not the truth.
The truth is, you got to find something within. You’ve got to find something within! And that’s got to push you! And that’s got to elevate you! And that’s got to drive you! And that’s got to move you! And when you find out what your why is – and your why’s got to be deeper than you – when you find your why, you don’t hit snooze no more. When you find your why, you find a way to make it happen.
It’s time for you to look within yourself and decide: that I’m in charge of my destiny, I’m in charge here. Time to face yourself and talk to yourself in the mirror. And I’m not going to allow anyone to turn me around, I am determined that I am going to make it. The time for just wishing is passed – the time for doing, that’s the time right now. Time for acting on your dream… find out what it is you want and go after it as if your life depends on it. We can decide to take charge of our own destiny; begin to truly live our dream.
Listen to me closely, when you get to the point where enough is enough, when you get to the point where it hurt real bad, when you get to the point you can’t take it no more, when you get to that point – I’m telling you… I can’t explain it to you but doors start opening, opportunities start happening. But when you cannot do is you cannot quit during the process, you cannot give up because it aint what you see. You cannot give up.
Champions keep going when they don’t have anything left in their tank. That’s the difference between the greats, that’s what separates them. When they don’t have no more, when it’s over, when they’re tired, when they’re frustrated, when they’re ready to give up, when they’ve spent their last dime, that’s when they get started! Are you hearing me? It’s when you have nothing left; it’s when you’ve depleted all your money, when all your energy is gone, when you have nothing left, that’s when it’s show time. When you find a way out of no way, when you find breath that you do not have, when you find energy that did not exist, when you want this thing as bad as you want to breathe –
So I ask you … What do you intend to do now?
Transcript created from a video made by Mateusz M:
They called me last year, they said ‘ET we saw you, you did a couple of things, we need you to come to our main office in Detroit. Our top leaders – we’re going to have our top leaders, we want you to speak to our top leaders in downtown Detroit.’ I said ‘I’m there.’
I get there, I’m ready, you know I got my little shirt on, my shorts… my man pulled me to the side and said ‘Mr. Thomas can I speak with you please?’ I’m like ‘no problem. Let’s holler – what’s up?’ He’s like, ‘Well Mr. Thomas I need you to understand the depth of this engagement. I don’t know who you’ve work for before but this is next level.’ I was like ‘Alright, talk to me.’ He was like, ‘We’re bringing off our top leaders, so they’re not going to be on the phones which means we’re going to be potentially losing thousands of dollars in that hour while we’re working with you. You have to-when this is over-you have to produce.’ I’m like ‘Wow…’ So he said, ‘Mr. Thomas, I just need one thing from you.’ I said, ‘Yes sir?’ He said, ‘Your “A” game.’ I said ‘my what?’ He said, ‘Your “A” game.’
I said, ‘Oh I’m sorry, I understand. You come from privilege… so you got like maybe an “A,” a “B,” and a “C” game. Maybe your mom a country club I don’t know… your father owns a company I don’t know… But where you come from you got “A,” “B,” and “C” I get it.’ I said ‘Listen to me very closely. I don’t know if you read my bio but I told you my momma had me when she was seventeen, I didn’t meet my old dude until I was thirty – my father right now is sixty-six years old still trying to get his GED. I don’t know if you know who I am, but when I get on YouTube and I tell these kids they can do it – they watching me every Monday. I got schools in the D – they start their school on Monday morning watching me. They don’t have a daddy, their dad’s in jail; they don’t have a brother, their brother’s in jail, I’m all they got! You don’t understand – my son’s in Michigan State, and I pay for it in cash! My daughter wants to go to Harvard – you don’t get it! My sister just had a baby and she aint making no money! “A” game? All I got is an “A” game! I aint got a “B” game! I aint got a “C” game! When I finish, people are relying on me!’
Some of yall, when you get on the field, you forgot! You forgot what it was like when you was hustling in high school playing ball. When you were in college hustling to get to this point – and now you here, and you think you’re here because they got six or seven different kinds of meat for you over there. Yeah I saw yall, you got six different kinds of meats over there… G said ‘some of yall want this, he got to get that because some of yall want that.’ And I’m like, ‘Ooh you aint grinding no more…’
It aint that you aint got it – you remember the time when, and be honest with me, high school maybe, college – you remember when you was like one hundred percent? You was giving everything, every play, every down before they had a card with your name on it… before you had the jersey… you remember that? Before you got to this level you was on that level? You was all ways – and that’s what makes E.T., E.T.
I aint smart, it took me twelve years to get a four year degree. My book is a best seller and I failed English three times in college. But the difference between me and most people is – you might be sweeter than me, you might be bigger than me, you might grind, listen to me, I don’t know – you might have money, I don’t know where you come from but you will not out work me! Every single time! I’m not in here speaking like I’m getting paid twenty – listen to me, I’m in here like I’m getting thirty! This is an opportunity of a lifetime and I’m going to take advantage of it!
So yall got to do me a favor, from now on when you do what you do – I don’t care if you’re practicing, I don’t care if you’re playing yourself at a video game… you heard what I said. You put in one hundred and twenty percent every time or you don’t put in anything because-listen to me very closely-today this opportunity that you have, it might not be here next year, it might not be here the year after next, it might not be here the year after that. This is the only moment you’ve got, and you better take advantage of this particular moment.
We have, as humans, we have something that no animal has. And what it’s called is, imagination. And what imagination allows you to do, it allows you to see it before it actually happens. What I mean by that is I need you to go ten years into the future, twenty years into the future, and I need you to see yourself actually becoming the person you want to be.
You got to live in the forward. Block the whole world out – put some music on, some classical music; the piano if you need to. I don’t know what you need to listen to but I want you to take thirty minutes – go in the closet, go in the basement, go to the library, go into a room alone, and I want you take thirty minutes and I want you to imagine. I want you to take thirty minutes and I want you to live in the forward. See the problem is, I’m talking to some of you guys, the problem that you’re having is you’re living in the future and you’re living in the present. And you keep talking about the mistakes, you keep talking about the past, you keep talking about your trials, you keep talking about your situation – and I want you to know that everybody that has ever been great, everybody, has had an obstacle to overcome, they’ve had a barrier that they had to climb. There is no individual who has ever reached success and he didn’t have to go through an obstacle or a barrier to get there.
I need you to live in the future – I need you to go in your future every single day. I need you to go in your future; I need you to see what you’re going to be. Listen to me, what you are to be you are now becoming. And so you got to use your imagination – and your imagination has to take you beyond the pain, your imagination has to take you beyond the trouble, your imagination has to take you to the next level. We have to see ourselves there long before it happens. The second tool is, we got to embrace faith. I have to have faith to believe the thing that I see ten years from now, twenty years from now, that one day that thing is going to be successful.
When I was homeless at sixteen I could have quit, when I was homeless I could have given up; there were many of days that I thought about committing suicide. But I said to myself, ‘E just keep imagining. Keep thinking, keep seeing. Keep seeing what you’re not now but what you’re going to be.’ Sometimes it’s going to be hard. Sometimes you’re going to look all around you and nowhere do you see success. Nowhere do you see anything that remotely looks like success, but you got to embrace number two; you got to embrace the faith. You got to believe that although it’s not happening right now, if you keep pressing, if you keep pushing, guess what? One day it’s going to be your day.
That’s right; I need you to say that with me, ‘One day it’s going to be your day.’ Embrace the faith. You got to be able to see it and believe it; that when there’s no evidence around you, when there’s no evidence around you, when you got pain in your life, when you’re tired, you feel like giving up, and you feel like quitting, when you look around you and you don’t see anything that looks anything like success, you got to embrace the faith and believe that one day will be my day! But one day can’t be your day if you give up, if you quit. If you quit no day will ever be your day.
I want you to fail forward. That’s right I said it; fail forward. I want you to get to a place in your life that every mistake you make, every setback you get, every obstacle that you don’t overcome, every barrier you can’t climb – I don’t want you to give up but I want you to fail forward. You got to learn from your mistakes. That every mistake you make – you fail a class? Get back up and try again. You lose a job? Get back up and try again. You put all of your money in an investment? Get back and try it again. If you start a business and it don’t work, don’t stop don’t quit! Fail forward. Learn from each and everyone one of your mistakes. Don’t quit, don’t give up. Listen to me, don’t quit, don’t give up – if it gets hard you tie a knot around yourself, you double tie it if you have to, but you hold on. But I want you to know, you will never reach your goal, you will never reach your dreams if you don’t use your imagination.
So when you fail that class, don’t drop it. When you fail that class don’t just stop going. You go to the end of that class, and you go to the end of that class, and you go to the end of that class, and you go to the end of that class – because I want you to know something: when you start that class over the next semester you won’t be starting from scratch. You won’t be starting from the bottom. Because you were all the way up here when you quit, and now all you got to do is go a little further, and a little further. So keep reaching, keep climbing!
My soul is not contained within the limits of my body;
my body is contained within the limitlessness of my soul.
I have often said that I wish people could realize all their dreams and wealth and fame
so that they can see that it’s not where you’re going to find your sense of completion.
I can tell you from experience the effect you have on others is the most valuable currency there is.
Because everything you gain in life will rot and fall apart,
and all that will be left of you is what was in your heart.
We’re not the avatars we create,
we’re not the pictures on the film stock;
we’re the light that shines through.
All else is just smoke and mirrors; distracting but not truly compelling.
Our eyes are not viewers; they are also projectors
that are running a second story over the picture that we see in front of us all the time.
Fear is writing that script.
Now fear is going to be a player in your life,
but you get to decide how much.
You can spend your whole life imagining ghosts,
worrying about the pathway to the future…
but all there will ever be is what’s happening here,
in the decisions we make in this moment,
which are based in either love or fear.
So many of us choose our path out of fear disguised as practicality,
what we really want seems impossibly out of reach and ridiculous to expect
so we never dare to ask the universe for it.
I’m saying that you can ask the universe for it.
Life doesn’t happen to you, it happens for you.
As far as I can tell it’s just about letting the universe know what you want
and working towards it while letting go of how it comes to pass.
Why not take a chance on faith?
Not religion, but faith.
Not hope, but faith.
I don’t believe in hope, hope is a beggar.
Hope walks through the fire and faith leaps over it.
You are ready and able to do beautiful things in this world,
and after you walk through those doors today
you will only ever have two choices:
Love or Fear.
And don’t ever let fear turn you against your playful heart.