Curtain call. Lights up.
"There he is. Center stage. A little off. A little odd. The (mis)leading man. Ladies man. Ladies and gentlemen. There he is. At the center of it all. Always telling stories. Right there. Going nowhere. Life of the party. Life is a party. Here, have a drink, it's a party, just the one. Don't tell anyone. Be quiet. Don't stand out. Be yourself. You're too full of yourself. Be remarkable. Stop acting out. Stop acting. You should get into acting. Stage fright. Opening night. Here, have a drink. Stage left. Wish you had left. Here, have another! You should know better. You should know. You should. You should know all of the shoulds. What do you know? What are you doing? Look up. Stand up straight. Get straight A's. Get out. Going out? Don't drink. You can't drink. Settle down. Calm down. Slow down. Here, have a drink. Have another! And another. It's just alcohol. Don't worry. Don't bother. Don't bother me. Don't bother with that big dream of yours. Don't bother. Don't be silly. Think you're special? You are special. You're nothing special. Nothing to it. Here, have another! It's just alcohol. And another. Don't bother. Have fun. Have another. Another dream? Don't bother. No time for it. It's almost the weekend. Here, have another!"
Curtain drops! Encore... Encore... Encore...
By the time I got to US at the age of 21, I'd had my 10,000 hours mastering the art of avoidance & hiding through heavy drinking, but not much else... unless we count the language barrier, the inferiority complex dressed in a cocksure attitude, and the student Visa as things-to-write-home-about. I was never gonna write home anyway. I was never gonna go back home. We can't ever go back home anyway or so they say. They who? "Here, have another!"
Even with all that self-impairment I learned the language, graduated, got gigs, got a green card, dropped the act, got the girl and even dropped the drinking. Through it all I read about 2000 thousand books on communication, neuro-linguistics, neuroscience, quantum physics, anthropology, sports psychology, leadership, eastern philosophy, world mythology, shamanism, semiotics, stage performance, peak performance, productivity, creativity, innovation, strategy, storytelling, stories we tell ourselves, how to better ourselves, self-development, brand development ... full library still under development - I'm still reading, still learning, still developing. Have I lost you yet? "Here, have another!"
Credentials are boring, I know. And pure knowledge, book knowledge, is for pansies! I would know, I used to be a pansy once. Actually more than once... more than most... most of my life, that's more like it. Afraid to share the few precious things I was any good at because in my knowledge-filled, badly-wired brain, rejection, failure, and completely demoralizing ridicule were not only probable but inevitable. "Here, have another!"
I had all the knowledge I could fit in my drenched in alcohol brain but not an ounce of agency. Hiding away in fear, running away, keeping my light at bay, drinking my gifts and opportunities away, until one day I woke up and I couldn't find my bae... and here, I had another look - just a few words, not from a book; but a handwritten letter, letting me know that with my actions I was gonna let her go...
Two thousand books later and those were the words that taught me the most. I immediately remembered who I was and what I wanted and valued most; realized who I was gonna have to become and what I was gonna have to do to get it. All in one page. One morning. One life to live. One simple decision. Because it's not ever about knowledge, it's about agency and urgency - it's about commitment.
I barely finished the letter. My mind racing, my resolve as clear as it had ever been. I started pacing toward the living room, some 12 odd steps toward the beginning, to finally start living, 12 steps toward the rest of my life, toward the best of my life. I got down on my knees, apologized, asked her for one final shot. Promised to do what I had no proof of concept to back me up that I could. And then I did it. And did it again the next day. Still doing it.
Never took another drink. Never fogged my mind again. Got down on my knees a second time 9 months later. Got married, got the girl, got her pregnant - 3 times over. Had great many failures along the way, all wonderful, all learning, never wavered, never back down from my light again. One letter, one moment, one decision, the follow through, all the way through.
Commitment is the true north, the guiding force, the "must" we must have if we are gonna live a life worth living. Commitment doesn't make life easier, it just makes life count. It makes our choices easier, it makes us recount and rethink our choices. Because the sharper we get with it the sharper our distinctions get. And then we get to better understanding still, as we distill everything down to the simplest question of all - "does it fit?"
Too simplistic? Absolutely. It truly is that simple, in the bets of ways - either it fits, or it don't, and if it don't, let it go.
Too hard? Maybe. But only because for a lot of us our wiring went sideways along the way. We got taught, talked and self-talked into making friends with mediocrity. Again, I'd know, mediocrity was about as close as I had to a lifelong friend.
We've all heard the story of the fellow who stuck his head above the crowd and had it chopped off. We've all heard the story. We just don't know of anyone who was ever there to see it. We just know. We belive it. We believe because we've all been telling the story to ourselves for so long that it must be true.
But what if the whole crowd rose? What if what anyone was ever waiting for was permission? Your permission. Would you then stop being so selfish, lead by example, stand up, share your light and make that your mission?
Did that give you pause? If it did, take a longer one and look around you. Notice no one is paying attention. Everyone is too busy worrying about what you think of them to notice you've turned off the auto-pilot. So take breath, take a moment to reflect, and ask yourself "When I dim my light, am I afraid to blind others, or am I afraid to get blindsided by it?"
Sure it's a lot of responsibility. But that's why it was given to you and no one else. Only you can carry that torch. And that torch, that flickering light, that Spark, however faint, ain't going anywhere. It's always gonna be there laying dormant, waiting for when you're ready to reconnect to your own sense of purpose, step into your greatness and lead with your light.
For me my "when" came on February 27th, 2009. Maybe yours have already come and you just came by as another torch barer. Crank it up, hold it high, let others see so they can find their might in the reflection of yours.
But if your "when" has yet to come. Whenever it does come, if you feel like you need a "spotter" to help you carry the load in the beginning, or you want to recruit a sparring partner to make you sharper along the way, drop me a line, if nothing else I'd love to watch, be witness to the light show...
Your Light Show.