READ THIS QUOTE. Now read it again…
Yeah, THAT is my definition of scary. To play it safe my whole life…that is scary.
It’s not to take outlandish risks, travel the world with $100 bucks in your pocket, or quit school and start working on a cruise ship for a year. School will always be there, but the freedom of being young and wild and free is going to come to a close at some point in your life. Now that I am married, my life plans have been greatly altered…for the better by the way. But I have already chased my outlandish dream (Pro Racquetball) and I have seen some of the world. I have eaten Top Ramen three times a week in order to have gas money or a plane ticket to my next adventure. I did this until age thirty.
THEN, I retired from my Pro Tour career and joined the real world. I went back to school online and finished my degree. I bounced around in different sales roles until I landed where I have now been for a while. I am making money, and saving a bunch of it, just in case. In case the world changes my circumstances, my company gets bought out or implodes, or someone builds a better mousetrap and we die a slow and painful death as a business. I had the ultimate freedom before as an unencumbered adult playing racquetball full time, but I am rebuilding that freedom through the financial means to have walk away money in the bank, and no debt to hold me back.
I knew early on I never wanted to be that guy, the guy that didn’t take a chance. My family would have been more comfortable if I had made different choices, but at the end of the day I am my own person and I have to make those decisions. And they saw the benefits of my decisions; I am happy person because of my risks and failures and wins and losses. I have grown, sometimes the hard way, but that is how life is. I have a great memory bank of stories and experiences to share with the world. I outgrew some of my own fears and limitations by throwing myself into situations and figuring my way out of them. On occasion I had to ask for help, but there is nothing wrong with that. That is strength, not weakness. I waited until I had no other choice, had exhausted all other options, and then I asked for a hand.
I have the opportunity to meet a lot of people in the course of my life, and there is a clear division between those who took a leap of faith and those who have not. Those who played it safe have missed out on certain things, and they know it. Some had kids and/or got married early and “settled down”. They had a house, a spouse and kids, and their life revolves around that until the kids leave the household. If this is truly what they wanted in life, then that is great, more power to them. But I find it hard to believe that as many people who end up there did so by choice. I have had some deep conversations with people that make me feel strongly that they did what they “thought they should do” and not what they wanted. Part of them is empty inside; they are haunted by that question…
Maybe I got lucky; my Dad is certainly someone who has mostly done what he wanted. Some of his choices crashed and burned, and financially he and the family paid the price for that at times. He never hit that big financial win that he had always hoped for, but he managed to take care of us no matter what. I came from humble beginnings, but I never thought of us as poor, even when my grandparents were bringing groceries to the house once a week. So I had someone that made me understand the value of taking risks, even if the downsides seemed highly impactful. Maybe I intuited that I needed to take my risks sooner, when it was just me that would take the hit if things didn’t pan out. I decided at age 15 that I would be a Pro Racquetball player. Not “hoped to” or “it would be nice to…” I DECIDED this would become a reality. I made it happen; through tons of hard work, help from others, and an unbending intent. I brought this dream into a reality, and I lived this dream from age 15 to age 30. After I retired, I turned to coaching, and guided others on their own journey, whether it was the same end goal or it was to make the team or to not finish last at the Intercollegiate Championships.
HERE IS YOUR TAKEAWAY: Take that leap of faith. At any age, there are risks and there are “penalties” for falling short. But the upside is worth the risk, even if the end result is some scars and great stories as the only takeaway. ANSWER THE QUESTION –> that nagging questions that so many lay awake at night, staring at the ceiling, wondering:
Whatever it is you want to do, think you want to do, or are willing to try, GO DO IT. The younger you are, the less other people that are impacted, the more time you have to “course correct” if needed, or get a real job. The experiences will shape your life, and expand your view of the world. That alone will be worth the journey.
I have signed autographs in two completely different worlds, unrelated to one another. If the speaking thing really takes off, I will be adding a third. How many people have you met that can say that? I am not saying this to brag, I am telling you this to encourage you to chase your own dreams, whatever they are. You will spend the rest of your life working…go play now while you can.
I wish you luck in your endeavors…