Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Why Do I Always Do This To Myself...

Back when I was in Jr. High, my buddy and I were out wandering the fields surrounding our small town when we found a cliff over-looking a drainage pond. Growing up in the plains of Nebraska, the cliff was somewhat of an extraordinary find. It must have been 10 to 15 feet tall and unlike anything we’d run across in our part of the world.

Of course, our first instinct was to climb it.

Doing so meant shimmying out on a narrow ledge above the water and then working our way up to the top. The climbing was easy, at least until I started to reach the top and ran out of hand holds. I remember feeling sick to my stomach looking over my shoulder at the muddy water below and thinking “I hate myself for doing this. I don’t know what I’m doing and if I ever get out of this alive, I’m never doing anything like it again.” 

I started thinking about this experience today because I’ve got that same feeling in my stomach right now, and as much as I hate it, I seem to be running into it more and more often. A few other notable instances from my past include:

Accelerating down the runway alone on my first ever solo flight.

Sitting down to take the six-hour long Series 7 test.

Leading a group of students on a trip to India. 

Leaving my job as a stock-broker to start my own business.

Walking into my first Jiu Jitsu class.

Looking out at the crowd of 600 at my first ever performance with Dylan Bloom.

Today I’ve got that feeling in my stomach because I’ll be playing my first show with my own band tomorrow. I’m worried I’m not a good enough singer. I’m worried that not enough people are going to come to the show. I’m worried that I’m going to disappoint the promoter and be black-listed from ever playing in Omaha again and then my band will quit because I can’t book enough shows.

I seem to have a bad habit of seeking out challenges that are a bit beyond my means. Challenges that give me a pit in my stomach and make me think, “I hate myself for doing this. I don’t know what I’m doing and if I ever get out of this alive, I’m never doing anything like it again.” What I find interesting is that almost every time this feeling pops up, overcoming it leads to the achievements I’m most proud of.  

I made it up the cliff without falling. 

I flew an airplane all by myself. 

I passed the Series 7. 

India was an amazing experience. 

I’ve survived for three years now being self-employed (with a lot of help from my wife).

I excelled at Jiu Jitsu and now I teach the classes. 

I went on to play 100 shows with Dylan, and have about 100 more scheduled with him in the future.

My brain knows my fears about the show tomorrow are blown out of proportion. It knows that even if the show doesn’t go well, I’ll be ok. It knows that overcoming these fears will make me a better person and give me another moment to be proud of. I guess that’s why it keeps seeking out these challenges.  

Now if I could just get my brain to convince stomach...