“Many people die with their music still in them. Why is this so? Too often it is because they are always getting ready to live. Before they know it, time runs out.”
~ Oliver Wendell Holmes
~ Do you live with “What if” thinking?
~ Do you avoid an outrageous life because of what others might think of you?
~ Do you always seem to be getting ready to start? “Tomorrow… Someday.”
If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions, you are not alone. Most of my coaching clients report being afraid to go for their dreams out of fear that they would look foolish, make a mistake or be rejected. In fact, I used to struggle with very similar feelings and fears.
One day, during my Doctoral Internship at a hospital in Georgia, one of the nurses asked if I would like to join a group going out that night. It had been a tough day, and I thought that getting out for dinner would be a nice way to unwind, so I said, “Yes”.
They picked me up and off we went to what I thought would be a simple night out of dinner and some laughs. I realized I was wrong as we pulled up to one of the hottest dance clubs in the city, and began to feel anxious about what was ahead of me.
My fear was based on the fact that I had never danced before! Yes, you heard me correctly. Unless you counted the Greek dancing I did as a child at my relative’s Greek weddings, I had never danced. My over-concern with how I might look to others had ‘protected’ me from looking the fool on the dance floor. So, imagine my shock at not having a car with which to escape, walking in to a club with pulsating disco music (this was the 70’s!), and a being with a group ready to let loose and have a great time dancing the night away.
Eventually the moment I had dreaded arrived. Just when I thought I had convinced the group that “I wasn’t feeling very well” one of the girls looked me straight in the eye and said, “Nick, it’s time to dance.” She literally pulled me up and out of the safety of my chair and on to the crowded dance floor. As I looked for a way out, I heard someone in the crowd yell out, “Go for it, Nick! Let’s see your moves.”
Needless to say, I was momentarily traumatized. In fact, although it was over 30 years ago, I still remember the song that was playing (Brick House, by the Commodores). I stood there basically motionless for what felt like 19 hours until I came up with a brilliant idea – close your eyes!
The moment I shut them, I somehow believed that no one was watching me (like an adult version of a child pulling the covers over their eyes to keep the monsters away!). Well, I soon began to move with the music. I then opened my eyes, and I abruptly stopped moving. Eyes shut, I danced. Eyes opened, I stopped. Eyes shut again, a dancing fool! My mind had apparently believed that since no one was watching, it was not possible to be rejected (or laughed at!). In fact, I actually heard myself say, “Who cares – so what – just dance!” Finally, my eyes stayed open and I kept dancing, although probably not very well!
Months later, as I returned home to California, I told a close friend, “Hey, why don’t we get the old gang together and go dancing?” Her mouth dropped because she knew how self-conscious I had always been. “What happened to you?” she asked. I simply explained that I had shut my eyes and decided that it was “time to dance”.
What do you have your eyes on? What are you telling yourself that you won’t do because of how it might look or how others might see you? Either you dance or you don’t. There is nothing in between. When you care too much about how others might see or judge you, then you stop living. Any possibility of an outrageous life is gone.
It’s time to stop ‘looking’ at others. Close your eyes and go for it.
It’s time for you to dance.
Question: In what ways have you decided not to ‘dance’ and how has this gotten in the way of achieving the things that matter to you? You can leave a comment by by clicking the Comment box above.