Last week, I had to catch an early flight from Baltimore to Boston in order to connect to my final destination and sit on the sidelines of what seems like my 84th recruiting tournament of the summer.
The morning began like any other of the type. Five hours of sleep. Check. Unruly alarm. Check. Unnecessary, but oh-so-necessary shower. Check.
My no-sleep, foggy-brained attempt to get ready was in full force, when upon attempting to exit the shower, I forgot how to use my hands. See, typically hands grab things to open them, but not at 6:00 am. No, this grabbing of the door handle was gracefully uncoordinated and turned into a punch.
“Ouch!” I said.
That didn’t hurt.
Despite the small (yet mighty) force required to push open the door, I managed to catch the handle squarely with my knuckles. It didn’t hurt at all and yet I ouched like I had been shot.
It took roughly four seconds for me to process what had happened and it got me thinking – what results are a function of how I’ve been conditioned to react?
After punching the door, my brain skipped from survey mode to reaction mode. Instead of assessing the damage and providing a reaction – all in a fraction of a second, of course – I did the opposite. Because things like punching a door are supposed to hurt, you say “ouch” and shake your hand.
So I did, even though that wasn’t an accurate response.
From there, it was an easy jump. If expectations have conditioned my results in the shower, there’s no doubt they’ve conditioned my results as a person.
If I believe that certain actions always cause pain, I will naturally withdraw and seek self-protection. It doesn’t matter if this is physically punching a door or running from any other type of perceived pain. It’s badddd.
Perceived pain is just that – perceived. It’s not a guarantee. Without launching yourself into whatever scenario you’re scared to confront, you’ll never know whether the idea of pain was placed there by your own mind to hinder your ability to achieve.
I see perceived pain often in my own life. It usually manifests when I’m trying something I’ve never done before. In those moments, it’s easier to think about what could go wrong instead of the glory of success.
I remember the first time I ever spoke at a coaching convention. Despite my natural charisma, I was nervous.
What if I misspeak?
What if my slides don’t load?
Are the older coaches going to see me as too young?
Will my peers see me as unfit for the stage and a total fraud?
The idea of failure and rejection was paralyzing because it was, as with all on-stage experiences, unknown. Of course, my visions of success were low-balled and unrealistic, too.
As it turns out, my fear-based thinking evaporated that morning as the truth of my passion came to the surface and on the stage, it was no different. Afterward, I was relieved to speak with coaches who did not criticize me, but instead congratulated me on a great presentation.
(Side-note: You can knock something out of the park and still have the fear of what-ifs lingering in the back of your mind. That was the natural conditioning of my expectations in a negative way. It is a daily process to disassociate myself with those thoughts.)
Have you conditioned yourself to avoid your next opportunity?
Allow me to encourage you: Take the interview. Start the gym membership. Pursue reconciliation with the person. Buy the online training from a ‘thought leader’ (lol).
Don’t let fear-based, knee-jerk reactions keep you from the bleeding edge of what achievement should look like.
I’ve never been skydiving, but I can imagine the fear that comes with such an event. “What if the parachute doesn’t open? What if I die?”
There’s nothing inherently wrong with living that way. Hundreds, probably thousands of people decide to take the airplane back down to earth instead of a screaming free fall. Life is kind of like that. You can spend every waking moment second-guessing your next step and whether you’re assuaged your fears enough.
Or – on an act of faith, you can simply jump.
Thanks for reading!
Creating Future Wins is my blog about life, leadership, and lacrosse. My heart is to create a mixture of writing that you can’t find anywhere else and I’d love for you to be a part of this journey. Hit that subscribe button and of course, if you value what I’m doing here, I’d love for you to subscribe to my premium content.