How often do you reflect upon what keeps you going?

Today is June 5 and the Navigate the Chaos question to consider is “how often do you reflect upon what keeps you going?” Successful people who navigate the chaos understand what keeps them going through the trials and tribulations involved with translating their dreams into reality. The child of pastors in Santa Barbara, California, Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson, known by her stage name of Katy Perry, was not allowed to watch MTV, VH1, or listen to any rock or popular music, except the Sister Act 1 & 2 soundtracks. She loved to sing and play guitar, and even dropped out of high school to pursue music.

At nine years of age Perry started singing with parents’ ministry in church. During the early stages of her career, Perry's musical style gravitated towards gospel. As a teenager she heard Queen's "Killer Queen," which inspired her to pursue a career in music. She cites the band's front man, Freddie Mercury, as her biggest influence and expressed how the "combination of his sarcastic approach to writing lyrics and his 'I don't give a fuck' attitude" inspired her music. In 1999, at the age of 15, she moved to Nashville, signed to Christian music label Red Hill, and released first album. Two years later she completed her GED, left for Los Angeles, and worked on an album for Island Records but later got dropped.

For five straight years Katy had to sell her clothes just to make rent, wrote bad checks and borrowed money left and right. In 2003, she was signed to Def Jam but the contract was terminated shortly thereafter. In 2004 she was signed to Columbia Records as a lead vocalist in the band Matrix, but the project was shelved before completion. To make ends meet while losing deals, she worked as a backup singer and other odd jobs. At the age of 23 she signed with Capitol Music Group and one year later released her breakthrough hit “I Kissed a Girl” on May 6, 2008. She followed up that hit with “Teenage Dream” in July 2010 and was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, becoming Perry's third nomination in the category. Perry has received various awards, including four Guinness World Records, five Billboard Music Awards, five American Music Awards, a Brit Award, and a Juno Award. She has been included in the annual Forbes lists of highest-earning women in music from 2011–2019. Her estimated net worth as of 2016 is $125 million. She is one of the world's best-selling music artists, having sold over 18 million albums and 125 million singles worldwide.

In an April 2017 Vogue interview, American singer and songwriter Katy Perry said that “I had so much ambition and determination and that’s what kept me going” through her false starts, cancelled recording deals and ten years of working through the music scene to break through. Professional baseball player Hank Aaron also used his determination to keep him going. For baseball players like Aaron a lack of hitting over an extended period of time is called a slump. Aaron’s motto was “always to keep swinging. Whether I was in a slump or feeling badly or having trouble off the field, the only thing to do was keep swinging.”

Aaron used that ‘keep swinging’ approach from childhood all throughout his life. Aaron grew up in a poor family that could not afford baseball equipment, so he practiced by hitting bottle caps with sticks. He would create his own bats and balls out of materials he found on the streets. His high school did not offer organized baseball, so he played outfield and third base for the Mobile Black Bears.

At age 15 Aaron had his first tryout with a MLB franchise, the Brooklyn Dodgers but failed to make the team. Two years later baseball scout Ed Scott signed Aaron to a minor league contract to play for the Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro American League. His success with the Clowns generated offers from the New York Giants and the Boston Braves. He accepted the Braves offer since they were going to pay him $50 more a month. Facing racism during his early playing days for the Clowns and even for the Braves, Aaron’s keep swinging approach allowed him to pursue his dream of playing professional baseball amidst such overt racism.

He would eventually go on and play in Major League Baseball (MLB) for 23 seasons from 1954 to 1976. He played 21 seasons for the Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves and 2 seasons for the Milwaukee Brewers. Aaron held the MLB record for career home runs for 33 years, and he still holds several MLB offensive records. In 1999, The Sporting News ranked Aaron fifth on its "100 Greatest Baseball Players" list. Aaron’s “keep swinging” approach was an effective strategy for getting himself out of slumps. For actor Jean Smart, however, she kept going for entirely different reason.

Jean Smart was married to Richard Gilliland for 34 years. In March 2020, with a week’s left of filming to do for her new HBO series Hacks, Gilliland died after a short illness. What kept Smart going during such a tragic time? As she told NPR “When Richard passed, I had to finish the show. I had a week's left - a week's worth of work left to shoot. And that was very, very scary and distressing, but I had to. I mean, we had to finish the show. And I - being the lead of the show, I mean, I feel a huge responsibility, you know, for the success of the show. And I feel a responsibility to the crew and the cast and - but they could not have been more accommodating and more wonderful to me.”

Perry, Aaron, and Smart navigated the chaos and practiced the art of living well by figuring out a way to keep going when they faced rejections, failures, and the death of a spouse. How often do you reflect upon what keeps you going?’