There are times when this statement may make more sense than others. Life has a way of giving you choices to make, and how you decide to proceed will greatly impact the outcomes and even quality of your life.
I’ll use myself as an example once again to illustrate my point. It would be easy for me to decide to coast the rest of my life, not try anything new or different. At 51 I could stay status quo and not rock the boat so to speak. I could stay at the same job, live in the same house, coach the same team, etc. It would be easy, or easier than implementing changes that are going to shake things up. Many people choose this approach, sticking with the familiar and taking the easy path. I do my best, in some cases, to NOT choose the path that many others take. Mediocre thinking leads to a mediocre life…. I am making some major changes.
Looking back over the course of my life, it is easy to see that not every decision works out the way you’d hope. I have crashed and burned more than once. I have found myself in horribly uncomfortable situations, like having to win a tournament to have rent money or being new in a job role and covering for someone, only to have a serious situation occur that I was not ready to handle. I got married after over a decade run at total bachelorhood. All of the above examples are HIGHLY uncomfortable, stressful and scary…but so what? What it the worst that can happen in any of the examples above? My marriage ends in divorce? That would make me statistically average in that arena. I would move out, split up the resources and move on (eventually) That’s what people do, and people far less capable than I consider myself have done it, so I assume that I can too.
Here’s one of my favorite examples of the principal which is the theme of this blog. When I was just coming off my Pro Racquetball career I got a job at an eye doctor clinic that specialized in sports vision therapy. I was a patient and it vaulted my career forward as a player, and then I became a Vision Therapist to help others. Long story short, I ended up at an athlete training facility that is doing work with off season NFL players, and also preparing college players for the NFL Combine. I was friends with the guy who ran the program, and he told me that none of the athletes are gonna give me the time of day if I am standing on the sidelines watching them work out. If I wanted to create a clientele of elite athletes, I needed to get into the mix. So the next day I showed up in my workout gear, having no idea what I was in for.
I was going to be working out with NFL greats like Donovan McNabb, Aeneas Williams, Andre Hastings, Charles Johnson and many more names an early 2000’s football fan would recognize. One of the first things we did after a brief warm up was the speed ladder. I had never done this before and I had a moment of panic. “What if I kick the speed ladder that is part of the group exercise and mess it up for everyone else?” was one of many thoughts to run through my head. I would soon find out…I lined up last on purpose, watching everyone before me run through the drill, trying to learn on the fly. This is a lot of pressure in front of an idolized group of “peers” that I was trying to blend into. Needless to say, I got about three steps in and tripped over the ladder, messing it up for the guy who was first in line and had come back around to do another set. He gave me a little crap about it, some good natured joking, but it felt like the whole world was watching me and questioning what I was doing there.
I did the rest of the workouts that day without incident; by no means excelling at any of them, but without screwing things up for anyone else. At the end of the workout session I went and got the speed ladder and set it up once again. I walked through it slowly, trying to do it perfectly at the slowest speed possible. Once I got the hang of it I added a little speed to the process. I messed up frequently, but I got the hang of it to some degree. This was clearly not a skill I possessed yet, but it was also clear I needed to.
I had two choices:
–Never show up to the workouts again
–Practice, learn and grow, whatever the cost to my ego would be
This is the part where I circle back to the theme of the blog…Fortune Favors the Brave. I did what I have tried to do others times as well, which was be brave enough to try again. I dove into the problem to figure it out instead of run away. The next workout did not include the speed ladder, but afterwards I grabbed the ladder and practiced some more. Aeneas Williams saw me practicing after the group workout when he came outside to do some more work himself. He didn’t say a word to me, but his look and nod said volumes. He knew what I was doing. He understood my decision to not give in and accept that I wasn’t any good at this skill and I was willing to do the work to solve the problem. It is the champion’s mindset; game recognizes game. The third workout we did have the speed ladder front and center once again, and this time I did the drills without tripping over it. I wasn’t as good as everyone else, but I was notably better than before. Aeneas gave me a high five when I went by him, confirming that my extra work was paying off. It was a very proud moment of mine to say the least.
Eventually I learned the exercises and skills that the football players had done for most of their careers. There were things I could do as well as them, like any of the ab work we did. I wasn’t nearly as fast as most of them, I had to do running drills with the linemen because the receivers and defensive backs were running circles around me. But I crushed some of them in agility work and reaction drills, as this was my wheelhouse as a racquetball player. I had two choices on that first day, and by deciding to be brave enough to try again, I gained an immense amount of other skills and learning opportunities out of that scenario. You can image what this experience did for me in terms of my own self confidence.
I am well aware that I have lived a life far different than most, but everyone’s life has moments like this. Its how you react to these moments that matters. Whether it is to finally ask out that person that you have admired from afar, or sign up for that martial arts class that you are interested in, or taking a new job or move away from your home town. You have to be brave, even if just for a moment, and make the choice to jump into the mix. Once you get going, things will get easier at some point, you just need to be brave enough that when you fall down, you pick yourself up, dust off, and try again. You don’t need to be anyone special to do this. Your decisions are just that: YOURS. You decide how you react to these kind of situations, no one else does.
This is a skill you need to learn to possess for a life worth living. I know for a fact that if I had reacted differently in situations like the one described above that my life would not have been near as rich and rewarding as it has been. I want this for you too. I think everyone should have as many opportunities as possible, but this only happens if you react bravely to the moment an opportunity is presented.
It does not matter if you get it right the first time out. In fact, the odds of that are very low. What matters is that you try, and when you fail you try again. That’s it…that is the secret to a more rewarding life.
I wish you luck in your endeavors, and remember to be brave whenever you can. It will make all the difference in your life.