The Eye of the Tiger

It’s the, eye of the tiger, it’s the thrill of the fight
Risin’ up to the challenge of our rival
And the last known survivor stalks his prey in the night
And he’s watchin’ us all with the eye of the tiger…

It was the summer of 1982. After 5 years working for a small daily paper in West Texas I sat across from an editor who was telling me “you have no talent” and that I needed to get out of the business and find something else to do with my life. I’d been passed over for a full-time staff artist position just a few hours earlier and now he was telling me why.
“You have no talent”.

Those 4 words

were the best thing

that ever happened to me.

Even today they continue to motivate me, to push me forward when I feel like giving up, to inspire me to give the very best I can give to each and every project that comes across my drawing board. I feel I have been blessed with the God given gift and talent to draw and make people laugh and think through the cartoons I have produced for over thirty years now. Just a quick note to that editor: You were wrong.
Not long after that meeting I answered an ad in the trade publication, Editor and Publisher, for a sports minded artist and in September of ‘82 I was Colorado bound for my first job where I spent 27 years as the sports editorial cartoonist for the Rocky Mountain News. Not bad for a guy with “no talent”. I had to do a tryout to get the job drawing 3 finished locally flavored cartoons in a 72 hour stretch with no sleep to meet the deadline as well as my job requirements for the small daily I was working part-time for.
I could have given up. I could have said that editor was right. Why try? But those 4 words haunted me. During those 72 hours, which included drinking I’m not sure how many liters of Pepsi, I listened over and over again to one of the popular songs at the time:

Risin’ up back on the street
Did my time, took my chances
Went the distance now I’m back on my feet
Just a man and his will to survive
So many times, it happens too fast
You trade your passion for glory
Don’t lose your grip on the dreams of the past
You must fight just to keep them alive

Fast forward to today, 2012. The newspaper I worked for has died, editorial cartooning along with the entire newspaper industry is imploding. I’m backed into a corner trying to reinvent myself to make the next 15 or so years as creatively rewarding and vibrant as the last 30.

Risin’ up straight to the top
Had the guts, got the glory
Went the distance
Now I’m not gonna stop
Just a man and his will to survive

You may be facing a similar set of circumstances in your life.  Knocked down. Ready to throw in the towel. Thinking of Callin it Quits. Well, Don’t You Dare! One of The keys to the Art of Reinvention is to be Resilient.

resilient |riˈzilyənt|

(of a substance or object) able to recoil or spring back into shape after bending, stretching, or being compressed. See note at flexible .
• (of a person or animal) able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions

As I write this tonight thousands in Colorado have been forced to evacuate their homes while hundreds have already lost their homes. Those are events beyond comprehension. Yet I believe strongly that those affected by these tragic fires will be the ultimate testament of the power of being resilient.

We have to find that inner strength that we each possess to remain steadfast and resilient. We have to muster the strength to get off that mat once we’ve been knocked on our asses a few times.

We have to find the Eye of the Tiger:

We Need Reminders to Remain Resilient

For me it’s those 4 words. “You have no talent”.
And lyrics like this one by Tom Petty:

Well I won’t back down, no I won’t back down
You could stand me up at the gates of hell
But I won’t back down

Gonna stand my ground, won’t be turned around
And I’ll keep this world from draggin’ me down
Gonna stand my ground and I won’t back down

or this one by Elton John:

Don’t you know I’m still standing better than I ever did
Looking like a true survivor, feeling like a little kid
Im still standing after all this time
Picking up the pieces of my life without you on my mind

Or bible verses like these:
31 but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength. 
They will soar on wings like eagles; 
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.

Isaiah 40:31

16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

So how about you? What are your Reminders to Remain Resilient? I want to know. And then I encourage you to use them to Remain Resilient!!!

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One comment

  1. Peg

    The first time I read your post, Drew, was when it came across my phone in the middle of the night. I forgot to turn the volume down on my smartphone, before going to bed. (That’s what I get for using it as my only phone and alarm clock. lol) As always, I was eager to read your words – even at 2 o’clock in the morning. I find them encouraging, challenging, from the heart, and always, a message I need to “hear.” This post of yours, is no different. It has challenged me to think of the moments in my life where I have had to be resilient, to stand strong against the storms that life can bring, and not back down. It has also reminded me of the times in my life when I didn’t even know there was such a word as “resilient”, or the possibility of being strong, when all I knew was sorrow and confusion.

    Fast forward to adulthood. It has been my faith, surrounding myself with positive, life-affirming people, and the gift of words, that have helped me to find strength and belief in myself – as well as, encourage others in their own trials and tribulations. We do not – and are not meant to – go through this life alone. It is the people in my life who are my reminders to remain resilient. Their words, their guidance, their presence, their compassion and love, are what get me through the challenges life brings. And when that adversity has been turned to joy, it is those same people with whom I celebrate.


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