A highly touted book by The New York Times and Oprah Winfrey, “The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace,” by Jeff Hobbs, details the life of a highly intelligent man who undervalued his talent and ability.
Born and raised in East Orange, New Jersey, Rob begins his life surrounded by poverty, drug dealers, and gangs. With the support of his family, mostly his mother, he bypasses the hardships of his childhood and eventually graduates from Yale University. This “Yalie” was very different from his college peers, though.
“He was one of the most-liked people on campus.”
The book was written by Rob’s college roommate, Jeff, who lived with him for four years. Jeff, for comparison, had a dad who was a surgeon and was a Yale graduate himself. Jeff’s dad had already put his two older boys through his alma mater. Whereas, Rob’s mom worked in kitchens most of her life, and his Dad was imprisoned for a double homicide, which he claims was a setup.
The hardships Rob faced during his childhood did not prevent him from graduating on time with a diploma in Molecular Biochemistry and Biophysics (with just about all A’s). He was one of the most-liked people on campus, leading study groups nightly, and holding down a kitchen job during school and in the summer. An athlete and a member of the water polo team, he also conducted research on HIV and cancer under two of the school’s most notable science Professors.
“Like so many who move on to do well realize far too late, if you don’t keep moving you can lose momentum, [and] stunt your growth.”
Destined to become a doctor, professor, scientist, author or all of the above, Rob would delay grad school and return to his home in East Orange. Like so many who move on to do well realize far too late, if you don’t keep moving you can lose momentum, stunt your growth, and all of your hard work will be for naught. Such was the case for Rob.
Upon his return, he began teaching at his former high school, St. Benedicts. Finding this work too unnerving, he picked up a new job loading and unloading baggage at Continental Airlines. While he was overqualified for the position, he took it so he could travel the world for free. Whenever he could get away, he would visit places like Croatia, Costa Rica, or N. Korea. He even taught himself to speak fluent Portuguese prior to a trip to Rio de Janeiro, his favorite city of all.
“Killed for his money and drugs.”
He would spend three years with the airline before being terminated for jamming the doorway of a plane resulting in 20k worth of damages. With no income coming in, Rob used his scientific mind to create a strain of cannabis known as “sour diesel” and began selling the marijuana in his neighborhood. The strain was so well liked, in fact, that eventually word spread like a California wildfire.
This resulted in the death of Robert Shawn Peace. Killed for his money and drugs. “How could he be so foolish?” I asked myself the same question after reading the inside cover of the book, but 400 pages later I have concluded that the reason his life ended the way it did was his WHY was not strong enough.
“Goals won’t stick if your WHY is not strong enough.”
Why do you want to go to college? Why do you want to attend Yale? Why do you want to major in Biochemistry? Why do you want to do research? Why do you want to help save people’s lives?
In my experience as a fitness coach, I’ve seen many people fall off the wagon after significant gains. Clients will lose forty pounds of weight in 6 months or become more athletic than ever before in life, only to revert to their old ways of being. Goals won’t stick if your WHY is not strong enough.
Robert Peace had a brilliant mind and he had people in his life that supported him, but what he didn’t have was the motivation to move forward. He knew that he could make money, even if what he was doing was illegal. The environment he was raised him didn’t help, of course. He learned growing up that illegal activities were par for the course, but he had a chance to escape this life. He chose, instead, to return to the life that his mother worked so hard to keep him away from. He undervalued his talent and ability. Robert Peace had all of the factors to succeed in life, but his WHY was not strong enough.
My protip: before setting a goal, ask yourself five times WHY you are setting this goal(s). If your WHY is not strong enough, find another goal.
Yours in health,