Monday, April 28, 2014

10 Years: Never Let Fear Dictate Anything

Now that I'm 30, I'm on a plan to guide the next 10 years of my life.  I've set out a number of principles I want to live by.  Number 4:  Never let fear dictate anything.

Fear and a lack of ability are the greatest culprits that limit the course of our life.  One we can't do anything about, but one we can.

Lets look at lack of ability.  Each of us has a certain level of natural talent in any given area, like singing, basketball, or art.  We can hone and improve these abilities, but will eventually run into the ceiling of what we can accomplish.

Example 1:  No matter how hard I put into my basketball game, I will never be able to touch LeBron James on the basketball court.  This is an assumption, because I never attempted to become a professional basketball player.

Example 2:  No matter how many singing lessons I take, I will remain a terrible singer.  This is a fact, because I have taken singing lessons, and was even the lead singer of Christian rock band(!) in college.  We were awful, and I am largely to blame.

These are God given limitations and I don't feel bad for them.  I am who I am.  I'm good at other things, like playing video games, or reading quickly.   And even though my Christian rock band sucked in nearly every way a band can suck, it was still a really awesome experience, one I would never trade.

Yes, the singing was terrible, the guitars hit more wrong notes than right notes, and our drummer was more into anime than being a drummer.  We still played shows in front of hundreds of people.  We made a demo CD that people actually bought.  Kids asked us for autographs.  Somewhere, some kid who is probably off to college now has a CD signed by me stuffed in some drawer.

I actually feel a little guilty that someone paid money for my CD, so if you happen to own an Again United CD, I will refund you $3.

Fear is a different beast.  Fear kills experiences before they ever happen.  Fear turns failure from a life enriching learning experience into an all-consuming boogie man.  Fear must be avoided.  Failure must be embraced.

Fear of failure can keep us from so many great things in life.  And worst of all, when you don't try something because you were afraid, for the rest of your life you'll never know what might have happened.  I don't want to be laying on my Death Bed wondering if I ever could have been a rock star.

I've applied this in other areas of my life.  I started a business at age 23.  It failed, but morphed into a non-profit that did a lot of good.  I plan on taking the lessons from my first business and hope to start another one at some point in my life.

And I've failed to do this in other areas of my life.  Take my wonderful girlfriend, who nannies at the school where I teach.  The first time I saw her she literally took my breath away, she was so beautiful.  I literally walked past her every day for a year, and never got the nerve up to say hi.   Day after day I walked by her, my courage wilting and words sticking in my throat.  Then summer came and I saw her no more.  I kicked myself for that, but luckily got a second chance when met by chance at a local festival.  But we don't always get second chances.

If you aren't failing, you aren't trying.  We all have dreams and aspirations that we're afraid to even say aloud because they seem so unlikely.  Say them.  Dream them.  Do them.  You might fail, you might succeed, but you will never know if you don't try.

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