Break Out From Other People’s Expectations And Reach Your Full Potential | with Sheldon Bailey

Break Out From Other People’s Expectations And Reach Your Full Potential | with Sheldon Bailey

Do you often find yourself overcommitting as you’re afraid that you will disappoint people or hurt their feelings? If you answered yes, don’t panic. Most of us, unless you’re from Mars, experience this.

Saying “No” to other people’s expectations is difficult but this brave act might be the missing link between you and your ability to reach your potential on your entrepreneurship journey.

It takes a serious amount of bravery to say “No”.

But the great news is that Sheldon Bailey’s success story comes with a big bag of insights on how you can break free from expectations. How to make way for limitless living and reach your goals.

In this new episode of Swanwick LIVE, James Swanwick interviews Sheldon, Actor, Writer, Rapper, Athlete, Father, Ruthless on Game Shakers & ATM on NBA2k. Sheldon acted on Nickelodeon's sitcom "Game Shakers," and is a seasoned actor having done 75+ TV shows and 100+ commercials to date.

Sheldon also immerses himself in the creative realm.

He wrote a book of poetry called “180 degrees” and has two published music albums "Golden Eagle," and "Crazy Joey." But his creative talent reaches beyond. He also dabbles as a music and film producer. Ergo, we can all agree Sheldon moves gracefully among the Top Achievers.

Watch the video interview below if you’re keen to kick your limit beliefs to the curb.



Connect with Sheldon Bailey:

Resources mentioned:

Key topics and timestamps:

01:25 - Introduction

03:54 - How social pressure resonated with Sheldon

09:18 -  Sheldon’s story behind youth advocacy and charity

10:20 - The reciprocal product of giving

11:49 - How Swannies benefit Sheldon’s health

13:50 - Sheldon’s creative goals

15:38 - The driving force behind James’ entrepreneurial journey

18:51 - A beacon of hope for others to follow suit

21:54 - Daily practices that can keep you on track

24:01 - Sheldon’s productivity tips


Full audio transcript:

Download transcript

James Swanwick: James Swanwick here and we are on another Swannick live and today we're talking about how to break free from other people's expectations so you can reach your full potential. And today on the show, we've got Sheldon Bailey and Sheldon has acted on Nickelodeon sitcom game shakers. He's a seasoned actor. He's done more than 75 TV shows, 100 commercials. He also makes music. He's got two albums, Golden Eagle and Crazy Joey, a book of poetry. He produces music and film. And he's a former college and pro basketball player. And I will get into this in a little bit but I as I understand it is athleticism was cut short by a couple of injuries. So we'll talk about that. And Sheldon is also very passionate at Swannies where he's been rocking his Swannies blue light blocking glasses. He's wearing them now. Looking very cool and hip. We should do a competition on who wore them better, you or me, I can see that you've got me beat on this one. Sheldon, great to have you here on the show. How are you? 

Sheldon Bailey: Good. Thank you. I'm doing very well. And I'm happy to be here. I really and everything that you all represent.

James Swanwick: Yeah, thank you very much.

So tell us you were an aspiring athlete and then it was cut short by injury, am I right? Tell us about that.

Sheldon Bailey: Wasn't necessarily cut short, but it kinda created a detour. So I was a star basketball player in high school. I was doing very well on my way to success in that sport and I wanted to tear my ACL when I was 16. But not just I told too that my ACL my MCLM, my meniscus almost had a complete tear of the left knee at age 16 when I had to have surgery reconstructed. And doctors, you know, suggested that I didn't play basketball anymore. And, you know, at 16, I had a decision that I was going to continue or not because it was a very serious injury. But I decided to rehabilitate myself and get back out on the court and within, I don't know, eight months’ time, I was able to get back and earn myself a division one college scholarship.

James Swanwick: Nice! What was the lesson that you learned out of that whole process?

Sheldon Bailey: One of the things basketball was so prominent in my life, it was the one thing and I just knew I had it made. And so you know, life to me is a big curveball, and I had to make some decisions on what I really valued and cared about. I was a solid student, but I can't necessarily say that I really had to focus on what my education was about or what else I love. I did love acting. I had been acting classes for a while but so that kind of got me that put acting more like more at the forefront is a passion of mine because I knew I could do it and be healthy because that was one of the things that I did while rehabilitating and then also,  just the things where was I going? What was I doing? Hanging out with friends, you know, I looked at that in a different way as well like I really became very focused on getting my goals achieved.

James Swanwick: Whether expectations on you from friends or family at that point or did that come later.

Sheldon Bailey: I was always a tall individual. So even before I was good at basketball people wanted me to play basketball. Because I was extremely tall. I mean, by the age of 12, I think I was about 6 to 6’3, I could dunk the basketball and kind of where you want it. So it became the thing. And also to be real culturally. I also think that's the thing as a tall African American male, you're definitely pushed towards, success in pro sports. So I always had that social pressure, peer pressure, family pressure to a certain extent, to achieve a basketball.

James Swanwick: Did you take on that? I mean, how did that pressure resonate with you? Did you feel it and was it like a draining pressure or was it a motivating or an energizing pressure like at the time. How did it feel?

Sheldon Bailey: Well, at first when I wasn't good at the sport, it was drinking. But then it became motivating when my parents are divorced and so I got to move on to my father. We spend a lot of time working on my game. And then I think that Father-Son time and my actual development became motivating and made me want to be that star. That I felt like it could be other people saw in me. Now the thing came later that I had to achieve certain things. All right, I went to college and played basketball to play basketball like a pro, but even now at the age of 37, with two reconstructive knees, people still want me to be a basketball player.

James Swanwick: What do they say? What are some other things they say?

Sheldon Bailey: Why don't you try to be an NBA?   A lot of the times the guy at the checkout at the grocery store, the person who's bagging my groceries is like, Man, you never thought about playing for the Lakers? Never crossed my mind. But I never thought about it.

James Swanwick: Wow!

Sheldon Bailey: I was in the grocery store and this older lady was like, baby, I hope you're using that height for something. I hope you just are not tall for nothing like, wow! Like, if I was it like there will be like all these constant shots in my ego every single day. So I really feel like tall guys that aren't good or didn't even achieve, you know, certain success in the sport because there's a lot of social pressure to be a tall guy and think to be the tall black male to play ball.

James Swanwick: So a lot of stereotypes going on there. A lot of expectations and people make a lot of judgments that are being made very, very quickly and I know that I must put my hand up and say I have been guilty. I was guilty in the past of seeing various I overweight people, and you know, people who are obese and unhealthy. And I was very quick to judge at a time in my life where I would look at them and go, man, why can't you just like to eat better or exercise? And so I would look at them through that lens. And it was only later on with some self-development work that I realized, man, it's just like the most judgmental, selfish way to look at someone because I have no idea who they are, what their background is, what their story is, what's going on. I got no clue and who the hell am I to judge anyone? Just for, you know, their choices or how they live their life. It's like, who am I? And so yeah, that was a big wake up call to me. And it's funny because as you're sharing that now  I can see how that must affect you and other people when people that you don't know are just kind of making these snapshot judgments about you without even have a conversation with you quite frankly.

Sheldon Bailey: This is true. And the thing is, I was able to achieve a lot in basketball. I didn't make it to the NBA, but I got a free education. I didn't make some money as I've traveled the world is one of the main things that helped me have success in the entertainment industry. But I don't have time to go down this whole list of people everybody who you know, talks to me and wants to, you know, me to be a basketball player because I've been quite accomplished in you know, a wide range of areas in my life. And for me, that confidence rests with that. But for some people honestly, like is they don't want to let it go. Like I mean it sometimes it carries on, I just need to exit.

James Swanwick: And so it’s Sheldon Bailey, who is an actor, a writer, a rapper, an athlete, a father. You can check him out on Instagram. His handle is Big Shell Bailey. Big Shell Bailey you can check him out there. I know that you've worked a lot with youth previously, and you've helped your youth advocate and you work with several charities that benefit young people. Do you want to just tell us a little bit about how that came to be?

Sheldon Bailey: Yeah. I feel like I come from a charitable family. My parents are the pillars of their families, the large families are siblings, and they are always giving and then my grandmother who also raised me for part of my life was a Baptist minister and just very charitable throughout my whole childhood. I remember going to nursing homes as a kid, I remember her giving my clothes to my less fortunate friends. So it was something that was instilled in me, and I always felt it was important to keep that, and I always knew how it made me feel. And I always like to make other people feel. So I wanted to keep that involved in my life. And so whenever I've had the opportunities, I've jumped on them and I've created some opportunities to help as well.

James Swanwick: I've done that myself a couple of years ago, I set myself a goal of helping 12 charities in 12 weeks, it was one a week. It was a lot more challenging than I thought it would be, to be honest, that's actually a lot to identify, find and then go and actually help but I did it man that opened me up so much. It was really, they've done a lot of studies in neuroscience that show that one of the quickest ways to get people out of depression or sadness, is to have them be of service to other people. Have you found that in your own life that when you've been of service that's changed your own mood almost sounds kind of selfish to say that right? Like, oh, I'm helping people and I get to feel good. It's like, really a selfless act.

Sheldon Bailey: I think it's fine though. I mean, for sure it's okay. I'm not going into it to make myself feel better but it is a reciprocal product of giving. It's one of those things whenever you do give that you believe that the law of nature and the law of the universe is that it's coming back to you one way or another and but then that all can't be quantified. So you just go with the best intentions in heart, and it will work well.

James Swanwick: Yeah, beautiful!

You are rocking your Swannies at the moment. Tell us a little bit about how they've been for you whether how you experience when you use them, what people say when you're wearing them.

Sheldon Bailey: I use them quite frequently. I like to wear them. I mean all the time, at night and during the daytime, they've been good. Sometimes  I hang out at lounges, events and even the club and they're a good alternative to just being bare eyed versus also wearing dark shades. People compliment me on them a lot. They think they're very stylish. I think the tint on them really, people gravitate to the color. The color is nice and so I think it gets people's attention. People always ask me how they are. I drive quite a bit and so I like to wear their great driving glasses. At daytime and night as well. Because here in LA, you know, on the freeways a lot, it's a lot of oncoming traffic with bright lights and this really cuts that like, I mean, tremendously cuts that pressure down from oncoming traffic.

James Swanwick: Yeah, love it!

And the view through the lens is pretty cool as well. If I put it up to the screen there we go, see the world through a nice little orange lens.

Sheldon Bailey: Yeah, but you would think wearing shades like ignite driving would be like prom but I feel like I see very, very well with them.

James Swanwick: Great! In your work, would you like to tell me a little bit about what you're doing in your professional life at the moment because we rattle off a few things there that you're an actor and a rapper and a few other things? So what are you working on or working in at the moment?

Sheldon Bailey: I'm working and I'll be in the studio later this evening. I'm making some music. I've made a decision that I will put out an album of music by the end of the year. And there's been a lot going on in the world. And so I've had quite a lot of different thoughts. And I've been creating a lot of music over the last couple of years but, and really found the right time to put it out. But I feel now is the time. We're promoting our TV pilot that we filmed independently as my writing partner. And we’ve been accepted to several film festivals. Many of those film festivals have been pushed, we premiered in tubes thus far, but some of the other ones have been pushed to the fall-winter now and we have a really talented producer that is behind this as well producing that show. For us, happy content is doing their work. So those like two main things, I always got some levels you know, things going on. Hearing there but really making this pilot a TV series and putting out my next bit of music and probably a book at some point in time some of them later as well.

May I ask you a question? You're like a really motivational person whenever I see you on Instagram. And I mean you put you know you have this really great product with the sunglasses. What is the driving force behind you? What motivates you? Because I'm interested?

James Swanwick: So what motivates me and what got me into it is slightly different. Or and you could also say slightly connected. So what got me into running to produce health and wellness products as I have two businesses. I help people sleep better and work better by wearing these blue light blocking glasses. And then I also helped people quit alcohol. Those people who want to quit alcohol. I've been doing that for a number of years. Those businesses were really born out of me already being alcohol-free, and also already being health and wellness conscious. So basically, I created businesses out of things that I was already interested in. It wasn't like I was like, alright, I'm gonna go and build a business here because I can make money. It was well actually, I quit drinking in 2010. Lots of people are asking me about how they quit drinking. I'm going to start a business that teaches people how to quit drinking. And then with the glasses, I was in Palm Springs, California with a friend of mine who's a big health and wellness enthusiast, and he was wearing a really unsightly pair of orange goggles at dinner in Palm Springs. And I said, what are you doing, man? You look ridiculous. And those tables of ladies over there looking at you and they think you look ridiculous as well. And he said, No man. I'm trying to block the blue light. And then he went on to explain the dangers of blue light and how it messes with your eyes and messes with your productivity during the day it messes with your melatonin production. So I was like, oh, I'm really into this. And so I wore orange goggles for about 30 days until I realized that I wanted to look stylish and called doing it. And that's this whole business of Swanwick was created. Because I really wanted to sleep better, perform better, be better, and look kind of cool as I did it.

To answer you. The second part of your question is what motivates me? I would be lying or it would be an untruth for me to say that what motivates me first and foremost is helping people. That's not the number one goal. My number one goal is actually to help my family, my partner, my children, my family, myself, and I've chosen to do it by helping people. Sometimes people have asked me,  years ago, what's your motivation for doing this? And I'm like, I want to help people. And as I've said it I've, like, felt pretty incongruent, quite frankly, because I'm realizing that's not the main motivation. My main motivation is to take care of my offspring and my family and make sure everyone's cared for. And I choose to do it by helping people. And I think that's the case. So that's my motivation. My motivation is to provide for my family and also, I'm always, always knocking on wood and hopefully and I have that intention that I'll always do that by creating businesses and products that genuinely care for and help people.

Sheldon Bailey: Got it. Make sense to me.

James Swanwick: Yeah, is that something that's driving you, Sheldon, and everything that you do?

Sheldon Bailey: Yes, well, getting out of my talent is always important and that for me is being able to provide for myself and for my family, based on my talent and whatever other skills that I have as an entrepreneur, are rewarding in itself. And one of the motivations of wanting to take my talents as far as they can is to be a bit of a beacon or be a beacon to other people to follow suit or to want to pursue their dreams as well. So that's one of the things that keeps me on target with pursuing these goals that I'm passionate about is being able to motivate other people. And there's one of the things that really makes me happy, is whenever I can go, and I can go to schools and talk to kids. I can talk to groups of adults and they seek advice from me and maybe I’m able to give them advice based on a certain level of success and experience that I've had in life. And I think, as always my success as an athlete or entertainer, it really was always to, I want to be able to do this to succeed here so I can help other people. I want to be a basketball player to make a certain amount of money so I can help my family, or I want to make it out of this little town that I'm from. So these other kids that grew up in this town, like me, can believe that they can go and succeed outside of this environment that this being in this particular place, you can still go out here and see the world and have afterworld and so, it was always kind of I just had this feeling this inclination as a very young person that I wanted to succeed and be successful. So I could help like a version of a younger me.

 I grew up in the city called Fayetteville, North Carolina and they did at the time nobody had ever gone pro out of here to play basketball. No, there were no famous actors or anything. But I could tell anytime somebody came into town or celebrity of no, we all gravitated to it and I wanted you know, and so I was like,I want to be that guy to make it out of here. And motivate people to follow their dreams and succeed.

James Swanwick: Is there a daily practice that you have that is helping you propel you towards fulfilling your potential? What are some of your daily practices or routines to keep you on track?

Sheldon Bailey: I have to write something every day. Write something every day. At this point in time, it is so automatic that it is not even something that I have to, like, put on my list like I will write a song or poem, story, something every day. I need to get up and move to exercise even if it is a long walk, or calisthenics, or whatever, that is important to me. I need to do that. And it's naturally my mind is always kind of working through business ideas and business propositions kind of all times. And I had to do something with my children every day.

James Swanwick: Yeah, I write 20 things I'm grateful for every day. I call it the daily 20. And by doing that, it activates my reticular activating system. So when I force myself to write 20 things I'm grateful for each morning, what tends to happen is that throughout the day, I see more evidence that there are things to be grateful for, and so I see more of that. And that certainly helped get me out of moments of sadness or  I wouldn't say I've ever been depressed, but I've gone through phases where I've felt sadness and you know, that kind of stuff. So, yeah, writing down is powerful.

Sheldon Bailey: That sounds good. Again, I always suggested to people because I found writing down our thoughts and our feelings and different things to be very therapeutic also.

James Swanwick: Have you got some productivity tips you could share with us?

Sheldon Bailey: Productivity tips? Meaningful. Exactly.

James Swanwick: So if you're gonna like, for example, it sounded like five minutes ago, you were saying you just decided you were going to release an album this year. So rather than procrastinating and having things take a while, etc, maybe you've got something as just says, Okay, I'm doing this.

Sheldon Bailey: That’s me! I probably have those. Sometimes things might lag a bit, but I am a very determined person. And I probably kicked that habit back a long time ago. You know, I don't like to talk a lot about what I'm going to do. I like to do it. And so that's my thing. If I have an idea I like to get put it in process and in first I have to work on maybe the Congress's because I'm not that type of person so it frustrates me when other people are talking about what they want to do or do this, do that,  and there's a lot of talk going on. And I'm like, what are you doing to get it done? Like, whenever people come to me for advice? I'm like, Okay, cool. Let's put a plan in motion. Let's go. I'm just kind of like, don't even come to me with that plan, if you are not seriously not really trying to build it,  this frustrates me because I'm ready. I'm ready for it all. So,  I see tremendous potential and everybody, probably more so than they see in themselves. And, you know,  I'm here, I'm like, let's get it done. You know when some of these things might take a little bit of time to develop, but anything worth it or you feel passionate about it's worth doing it. But I find a lot of people are, they say they're not content, but they are content in their lack of motivation and movement towards establishing a goal and going to achieve it. And I'm here to help motivate people and to continue to motivate myself to achieve all the great things that we can achieve in life. So, I want people to really believe, number one, and then be willing to go and work for it.

James Swanwick: Sheldon Bailey, thank you so much for that. I appreciate you joining us here on Swanwick live. Congratulations on your creative success so far and long may continue. Thank you for being a proud wearer of the Swannies blue light blocking glasses. You definitely won the who wore the better award. Yeah, and thanks for helping children and you know, being a great mentor for people as well. So, thanks for your time, Sir.

Sheldon Bailey: No problem. I will continue to enjoy my Swanwick glasses.

Hello, Alaina out there. She's the person that then hooked on some things for me, and I wish you nothing but success and great motivation over there at Swanwick.


Don’t let your busy schedule prevent you from reclaiming your life. Click below to listen to this episode on the go.

You might also want to read this helpful article about F.lux.


Get a pair of Swannies Blue Light Blocking Glasses.



Celesté Polley


Celesté is a writer, creative photographer, bookworm, pianist, minimalist, environmentalist at heart, professional napper, and Earth wanderer from South Africa, operating in the wellness industry. She is obsessed with books, plants, the moon, and the misunderstood wild Baboon Spiders (a.k.a Tarantulas) of the arachnid world. Her curious nature has her on an unstoppable journey to work with like-minded humans, but also to help people overcome their health and mental struggles.

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