“I’ll bet you 50 bucks.”
During my grade school years I’d say this frequently to my dearest friend when I wanted him to believe a farfetched story I was telling to get him to think I was “cool”. He played along but always saw right through my bluffs. As we grew older the common bet I used to make him grew into a bit of a running joke between the two of us. Despite now being able to joke about my “imaginative” personality as a child, my desire to tell stories and share ideas came right with me into adulthood. While I’m not openly lying about things to get people to like me as I did in grade school, my desire to share my dreams and ideas with anyone who will listen has never left. The biggest thing I’ve grown to realize is that if you’re confident in who you are and what you’ve accomplished, you won’t need to blindly bet people 50 dollars to validate you. You’ll have something to show them, and their respect will be long lasting and genuine.
I’ve struggled with talking too much before executing my ideas for so long. For a while it felt like my beliefs and my actions had each bought one-way tickets to opposite ends of the globe, and the further away they got, the more depressed and anxious I seemed to get. A couple of years back my name was in the program guide for 4 different park districts, advertising disc golf camps and private lessons at each of their local courses. I’d always dreamed of youth disc golf and ultimate being as popular and easy for kids to sign up for as little league baseball and I really wanted to make that happen. I sent long emails pitching my ideas, scheduled meetings with each Athletic Director, dressed up nicely and impressed them with my enthusiasm and visions I had for the future of disc sports. They loved me and were excited to see what I had to offer. I had a huge dream and was finally taking steps towards reaching it. It felt incredible. With all of that said,
Everything fell apart the moment I started telling people what I was “going to do”.
The amount of positive praise I received from the park districts and my friends and family before the programs had even started was the perfect distraction from actually building the programs out and committing to delivering a good product to back my claims. It was as if the validation and love was all I was looking for at the time, which showed a strong lack of self love (a foundational component of success in my eyes). I started to doubt myself and wonder if my ability to execute my ideas was really as good as how highly I spoke of it. I wondered if I was going to underwhelm the people I had talked myself up to so much, looking like a “failure” and letting everyone down. A lack of legitimate self esteem mixed with the fear of not meeting peoples’ expectations was enough for me to lie through my teeth to cancel the programs and ruin relationships with the people whose trust I had gained through a lot of hard work. After all of that time and effort, I had nothing to show for myself. It was awful.
I felt like more of a failure than I would’ve if I tried and things didn’t “work out”.
I’m always relating my personal life events back to golf, and this situation is something I see way too many players struggle with. The amount that I see players make public statements that they’re going to “practice harder than ever” or say things like “selling my bag, retiring from the sport” is ridiculous. Similar to someone who’s afraid to start lifting weights at the gym in fear of being made fun of by the “meatheads”, the first step towards allowing yourself to continuously succeed without having to rely on “motivation” is to realize that it’s been said so often that a huge majority of the time, people are way too concerned with themselves to truly care about what you do. The subconscious act of prematurely tethering yourself to other peoples’ expectations can be extremely debilitating and leave you in a worse spot that where you started. There is no worse way to hinder your improvement and feed the burnout monster than to take the thing you love that provides intrinsic value and meaning and transform it into a chore that must be done in order to “not fail” in the eyes of those you care about. To shorten that paragraph, you can also just follow this rule I’m trying to get better at following,
“The universe doesn’t give a crap about you. Because of that, do more things just for the sake of doing them.”
I’m immensely grateful that I had to feel that emptiness despite bringing it upon myself. Without struggle, growth is near impossible for me. Today is my 2nd day on the road full time as I try to continuously take baby steps towards bettering myself and putting my money where my mouth is. I’m currently in a warm coffee shop in Michigan, watching the freezing rain fall relentlessly on the pothole rich roads of Ann Arbor. I’m heading to the Discraft factory tomorrow to hand-pick my equipment allotment, then I’m driving to the Quad Cities to begin preparing for the big A-Tier next weekend.
I am happy. Life is good.
P.S. – If you’re still reading this and have any big dreams or ideas floating around that you’re having trouble executing, never hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to try to brainstorm and help you execute your vision.