I am an ordinary man
trying to do extraordinary things.
I listened to a great podcast last night; Tim Ferriss chats with Dr. Brene Brown in his office in Austin, TX. They touched on a bunch of topics, but spent a lot of time on things that I am sure many people do not consider. Tim posed a great question to her, which in essence was this: Why is it that you have the appeal with the mass audience that you do?
What she responded with was awesome, yet simple. She shares that she is a flawed human being, openly and honestly. That’s it. In spite of this, she has done some extraordinary things in the research she has brought to the world. She didn’t intend to be in the spotlight, preferring to have her work be the focal point, but when you do a Ted Talk that ends up with over 30 million views, its gonna be hard to stay in the shadows. In a world of Social Media posturing and highlight reels of people lives, she doesn’t shy away from the fact that she is a regular person who happens to be in the public eye. What she does as a researcher and a corporate liaison is to get people to discover that they are in the same boat. I highly recommend you listen to this and other talks of hers, it is very inspiring and enlightening.
The reason this resonated with me so much was obvious: I feel the same way. I never really considered myself to be “special” or extraordinary versus other people. When asked about my racquetball career, or other things I have accomplished, my answer is usually a very simple one: “I am a grinder”. If I have any kind of special talent it would have to be my ability to stick to something, to endure where others give up. I was a small, skinny kid from rural Pennsylvania, and now I am an average height and weight adult who lives in Phoenix. I didn’t come from a wealthy family, and I had no particular advantages other than a reasonably good support system around me. I made due, and excelled beyond the ordinary, by working longer and harder than others. I was willing to take the pain longer than others. I developed the proverbial callouses to add to what I could withstand, and that took me even farther down the path.
In the interest of showing just how “ordinary” I am at times, here are some things that I consider flaws of mine:
–I worry about things far out of my control, big and small
–I have been a spender, not a saver, most of my life
–I feel self conscious when speaking in front of a group, no matter how big.
–I have a weird fear of getting physically sick in front of people
–I crave attention and acceptance from others…a lot
The above list is broken down into individual points, but can be expanded upon deep and wide for each example. A psychologist would have a field day with me, I am sure. In my hypersensitive thoughts, one short conversation with me would lead the mental health professional to come to a quick conclusion: Job Security. I’ve done some therapy, and digging around in the dark corners of my head certainly proved to be beneficial. I didn’t have a horrible childhood tragedy buried somewhere in there, but EVERYONE has baggage and I personally believe that everyone should do some assisted self-discovery.
Despite my own perceived shortcomings, I have done a lot of things, accomplished some major milestones, and influenced a fair amount of people already. In some cases, I have experienced something that has allowed me insight to share with others that shortens their learning curve. In other cases, I belly-flopped, and that experience can be valuable as well. As the old saying goes “Even from the Fool, you can learn not to be foolish.” Sometimes the “here’s how I screwed that up, be sure not to repeat my errors” advice is just as helpful. I do my best to share the good and the bad that is the totality of me.
So, with that in mind, I plow forward. Sometimes I plod like a cow, other times I run like a deer. But as long as I am moving forward, and doing my best to pull others along with me, I feel like I am doing the best I can. And in this life, that should be enough.
I wish you luck in your endeavors.