My latest favorite book is Elite Minds by Dr. Stan Beecham, a highly respected sport psychologist and performance consultant. From the book’s forward to the epilogue, I devoured this book as is proudly displayed in the dog ears, highlights, underlines and asterisks I added throughout its entirety.
When I got to the chapter about one’s calling it made me want to share it with all of you.
“In comes the concept of being chosen rather than making a choice. I like to think of this as being “called.” Difficult situations often involve people who are called to be in that place at that time.”
This is how I have felt the past few years as I continue to receive more and more speaking requests. I didn’t seek out these opportunities. The requests just started coming to me. At first, I was hesitant to share the speaking gigs I was doing because it felt boastful. But then I thought, “I’m not forcing anyone to listen to me or hire me. If people feel I have something to share that is of value for others to hear… why wouldn’t I continue to develop the craft of sharing my thoughts on philosophies I’ve developed over my coaching career?”
The paralyzing factor is FOPO… the fear of other people’s opinions. This most often arrives to my attention through social media. As Dr. Beecham explains,
The more ego you have, the more fear you have. Ego makes you self-aware and self-conscious, and it makes you focus on yourself. Ego makes you wonder and care about what others think of you.
So the question is: What is it that you really want to do in life that you’re not doing because you’re afraid others will think you’re self-absorbed, egotistical, or a flaunting braggart? Or worst, if your endeavors don’t result in your desired outcome, people will find fodder in your lack of success and make fun of you and delight in your failing?
What is the irrational fear you have that you are allowing to paralyze that nagging passion… your calling? That thing that is always in the recesses of your mind, igniting your creativity, inspiration and desire to experience something you never have, but know you can—or at least want to try? What really is stopping you? …your ego. Your fear of what others will say?
Since the time I was little I wanted to be an actress, a teacher, and a journalist. Yes, all three. I would practice scenes in my room and even take on a different persona with my family to sharpen my craft. It was noble to share my desires to be a teacher and journalist, however, not once did I ever share the desire that I wanted to act with anyone… in fact, not once have I uttered those words until just now. Why? Because I absolutely believed that people would laugh at me and think I was foolishly daydreaming my life away. That is so ridiculous… especially, of anyone who knows me. I’m not afraid to make a fool out of myself in most areas of my life… so what was so scary that I couldn’t share that dream with my family or friends? Ego. I didn’t want to be made fun of.
Do you have something in your life you want badly enough that you are willing to sacrifice everything else in order to achieve it? Keep in mind that if you make this sacrifice, the world will kick your ass. You will be told to “be realistic” or to “think about it” or to “be rational,” right? That’s the lie that’s killing you right now. Greatness is not about being rational and realistic. It’s about irrational and crazy thinking.
… when I read this I literally cheered out loud “YES.”
What I continue to learn is that taking risks and challenging myself to attempt things I’ve never done leads to opportunity, while avoiding risk leads to mediocrity and a repetitive life… Yikes! Now that to me is much more scary than the fear of other people’s opinions.
I have found that when I do take the plunge into the great unknown of something I feel called to do, I make sure that I surround myself with people and input that will only be constructive to my efforts. Not people who will simply shower praise, but those who will give me the cold hard truth–good or bad. Most of the time, I purposefully choose to avoid reading things about myself on social media because it can quickly lead me down an unproductive path where my greatest concern becomes pleasing the masses. However, there are some occasions I will engage because I recognize the power of the platforms… and if there’s an overwhelming sentiment about me online, I view that engagement as an opportunity to clarify and grow.
Dr. Beecham concludes this chapter with a paragraph that hit very close to home.
“The people who acknowledge that they have a limited amount of time and live with a sense of urgency have the best chances of living their full potential.”
This is one reason why I’ve always said that getting breast cancer changed my life for the better.
Don’t wait to stare death in its face to respond to your calling. Face your fears and do it anyway and by all means don’t check social media for validation. The only validation you need is the feeling you’ll identify inside when your spirit sores and your light ignites.