MICHELE NORRIS, host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.
MELISSA BLOCK, host:
And I'm Melissa Block.
NORRIS: On Monday, we bring you our series of statements of personal conviction, This I Believe. Today we hear from film and TV producer, Brian Grazer. With director Ron Howard, he runs Imagine Entertainment. Their most recent movie was The Da Vinci Code.
Here's our series curator, independent producer Jay Allison.
JAY ALLISON reporting:
With an Oscar, Emmys and critical and financial successes to his credit, Brian Grazer has a certain amount of power in Hollywood. His phone calls get answered. Still, he is a restless man. It turns out restlessness is a way of life for him. A belief, in fact. Here's Brian Grazer with his essay for This I Believe.
BRIAN GRAZER reporting:
I was 45 years old when I decided to learn how to surf. Picture this, the north shore of Oahu, the toughest, most competitive surfing spot on the planet. 14-foot swells, 20 tattooed locals and me, 5-foot-8-inches of abject terror. What will get me first, I wondered, the next big wave or the guy to my right with the tattoo on his chest that reads RIP?
They say that life is tough enough, but I guess I like to make things difficult on myself, because I do that all the time. Every day and on purpose. That's because I believe in disrupting my comfort zone.
When I started out in the entertainment business, I made a list of people that I thought would be good to meet. Not people who could give me a job or a deal, but people who could shake me up, teach me something, challenge my ideas about myself and the world.
So I started calling up experts in all kinds of fields - trial lawyers, neurosurgeons, CIA agents, embryologists, firewalkers, police chiefs, hypnotists, forensic anthropologists and even presidents. Some of them, like Carlos Castaneda, Jonas Salk and Fidel Castro, were world-famous. Of course, I didn't know any of these people and none of them knew me. So when I called these people up to ask them for a meeting, the response wasn't always friendly. And even when they agreed to give me some of their time, the results weren't always what one might describe as pleasant.
Take, for example, Edward Teller, the father of the hydrogen bomb. You've heard of him. However, he'd never heard of me. It took me a year of begging, cajoling and more begging to get to him to agree to meet with me. And then what happened? He ridiculed me and insulted me, but that was okay. I was hoping to learn something from him and I did - even if it was only that I'm not that interesting to a physicist with no taste for our pop culture.
Over the last 30 years, I've produced more than 50 movies and 20 television series. I'm successful and, in my business, pretty well known. I'm a guy who could retire on the golf course tomorrow, where the worst that could happen is that my Bloody Mary is watered down.
So why do I continue to subject myself to this sort of thing? The answer is simple. Disrupting my comfort zone, bombarding myself with challenging people and situations. This is the best way that I know to keep growing. And to paraphrase a biologist I once met, if you're not growing, you're dying.
So maybe I'm not the best surfer on the north shore, but that's okay. The discomfort, the uncertainty, the physical and mental challenge that I get from this, all the things that too many of us spend our time and energy trying to avoid, they are precisely the things that keep me in the game.
Mr. ALLISON: Brian Grazer with his essay for This I Believe. Grazer says his belief helps him find out who he is and extract the truth. That indeed is the principle of our series and we hope you will take part. To find out more about submitting an essay of your own, visit our website, NPR.org or call 202-408-0300.
For This I Believe, I'm Jay Allison.
NORRIS: Next Monday on Morning Edition, a This I Believe essay from the chemist, poet and Nobel laureate Roald Hoffman.