Feel the Shake

You’ve been there: obsessing about that very important meeting, or event, or opportunity that’s coming up very soon. You’re looking forward to it, but you’re worried about it, and possibly dreading it at the same time. You can feel the tension mounting the more you think about it. You feel all alone in your anxiety. It’s a clusterfuck of competing emotions. As this moment fast approaches, you’re wondering: “Why the hell did I sign-up for this… ?” 

Through my lifelong research and in my personal experience, managing this stuff effectively is what separates the ‘haves’ from the ‘have-nots.’ I’ve always been fascinated by the factors that separate the famously successful from everyone else. I’ve been devouring biographies, watching documentaries, and studying successful musicians, actors, artists, entrepreneurs, and others for years to learn about their journey’s. How they got from here to there, and to uncover what truly sets them apart.

Rob Lowe, one of the original 1980’s “brat-packers,” has had a long, and storied career in both film and television spanning over three decades. To me, he continues to epitomize the tenets of a real-world rock star as an enduring acting icon. His autobiography, Stories I Only Tell My Friends, includes the riviting details about his career-launching, yet arduous audition process for the Francis Ford Coppola flim, The Outsiders in 1982.

“There were days when I would’ve liked to have faced lower expectations and less pressure than learning at what this particular level demanded.” ~ Rob Lowe

This story made clear to me that two things must happen for people to achieve any type of “success” personally or professionally. First, you have to consistently take action and do what most others will not do. And second, you must be able to deliver results in the midst of the inevitable stress, angst, and anxiety that follows.

I’ve heard it said: “Nothing hurts a failure but a try.”

You must be deliberate about putting yourself into uncomfortable and uncertain situations at times. These are the types of situations that have you shaking in your boots, figuratively and literally. Extraordinary outcomes only come from first making choices that most others will not make. These are the difficult decisions, and ensuing actions that have the great potential to expose you to ridicule; and to place you in very vulnerable positions that make you a target for scrutiny and criticism. You’re thinking: “Am I out of my fucking mind?” The answer is… YES, you are out of your mind, and waaay out of your comfort zone. But, this is also the place where most worthwhile happenings, happen…

It’s at this point that the majority of people will opt out; they’ll quit because it’s the softer, easier way. Very often, our natural instincts are to go small; to retreat; to get invisible when faced with challenges or change. Instead, the best go big. They run into, instead of run away. They forge ahead, though often afraid. They then do their damndest to deliver the goods.

At some point, we all find ourselves alone on the “stage.” It’s an inevitability, and it’s exhilarating.

So how do you NOT get so shaken that you cannot perform? Three things:

  1. Feel the shake. Let it be. Don’t run from it, lean into it. You not only have to be willing to face it, but you must also embrace it. Let it help you by allowing it to push you to higher levels of performance. It’s a friend, not your foe.
  2. Focus on what the shake really is. It’s fear. But fear of what? When you boil it down, it’s simply the fear of looking bad or of being seen as not good enough in the eyes of others. That’s it; and that ain’t shit. It means nothing. Once you understand how base and universal these fears really are, they are much easier to manage and overcome. Everybody has them… EVERYBODY. And most people are actually rooting for you, whether you know it or not. Take comfort in knowing this, and let it empower and embolden you.
  3. Finally, let #1 and #2 Fuel your performance. Channel that energy into executing what your hard work and preparation has positioned you to do. Turn it into positive energy, not just negative anxiety. You’ve earned the right to be there, and deserve to be there, because you GOT there in the first place.

Now go kick ass!

Stay tuned-in…

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Seventeen

17

Warning against the “dangers” of a negative typically only works to affect change for the short-term. Working toward the benefits of a positive is the most effective approach for long-term impact, and sustained behavior change.

Be challenged to undertake that which is more courageous and even dangerous… that which focuses on what TO do instead of what NOT to do. What we focus on gets bigger.

It’s dangerous to break the mold, to take a stand, to draw lines in the sand, to go against the grain, to upset the apple cart, to interrupt a pattern. It’s dangerous to take a road less travelled and keep driving forward. It’s courageous and dangerous to be different and set apart; to dare to make a difference.

Be dangerous. Be a difference-maker.

Stay tuned-in…


 

The Hard Way

the-hard-way-vertical

  • Pointing fingers and shirking responsibility.
  • Defensiveness.
  • Denial.
  • Avoidance.
  • Resisting change.
  • Being self-centered vs. selfless.
  • Taking vs. giving.
  • Telling vs. listening.
  • Condescension.
  • Intolerance.
  • Arrogance.
  • Insensitivity.

These are the paths of least resistance. The easier things to do. The most predictable ways to behave. The ways most choose to take. These are the easy ways…

Why? You already know. Because it’s less painful. It’s less work. It requires less effort. But the easy way only works for the short-term. And the long-term consequences are much more painful.

So common is the choice to avoid the hard way.

The hard way is the road less travelled. Those who have the courage to choose this way, lead the way and end up way ahead.

It’s a small population that most think they’re included in, but few actually are in reality. It’s a group that only those committed and capable of beating down their own self-deception and biases can truly be a part of. All are invited and welcome, but only a few elect to do the work necessary for inclusion.

It’s one of the most slippery slopes there is. Ask most about the “hard way” and you’ll usually get proud and puffed-up replies that strongly confirm that of course they’re part of this rare group. In many cases, the mere questioning of this will often be met with the aforementioned defensiveness and condescension which is evidence of the opposite.

Recently I sat across the table from a trusted female colleague who was telling me in her words “what was what” about me and some recent personal issues I chose to share with her. The leveling of my pride, and willingness to endure (yes, at times it required great endurance), the litany of hard truths she was sharing with me was anything but easy.

The difficulty wasn’t that I disagreed with what she was saying; the difficulty was my acceptance that she was right.

Much of what she was objectively sharing with me was spot-on. It was the truth, and at times, very hard to hear. But I chose to listen, and to truly consider her perspective and point-of-view. Since then, I’ve thought a lot about what she said, and this experience continues to contribute positively to my life as I work at initiating changes in my behavior that influence better outcomes for me, and anyone I interact with in my life personally and professionally.

This is an example of the hard way. It was hard to sit there and listen to someone point out where you’re fucked up. It was hard to not get defensive or even offended at times. It was hard not to deflect responsibility. It was hard to entertain my blind spots (we all have them). It was hard not to deny, rationalize, and justify some of my behavior in an attempt to assuage the pain and make myself feel better. It was all hard… very hard.

The shiFt:

It’s this type of willingness to be challenged and to learn that’s vital to producing individual growth. Real growth often comes with pain and a price. It’s about seeking differences instead of only similarities. It’s got to be more than just lip-service, and sound bytes. As I’ve always told my son: “saying and doing are two completely different things.” A lot of well-intentioned people are quick to say the right things, and give good speeches, but quit when it comes to actually doing what they say.

Evidence is in one’s behavior, not their banter.

Stay tuned-in…