You ALWAYS Have A Choice: Failures and Strikes

The last few days have been a little tough for me. I have been trying to keep in mind the things I have written about, and hold myself to them. But last night, I failed.

I was at a bar with a friend of mine with whom I have become very close, Song Mook. He lived in America for one year during high school, so his English is exceptionally good, and he and I have found that we have a lot in common as far as what we want out of life and the way we view the world. So we have been spending a lot of time together, talking and playing pool at bars in our area, one of which we were at last night. We were sitting at the table talking about random things when he leaned in and said, “Hey, want to practice your Korean?” Immediately I felt something leap in my stomach like a frog that had just been rudely awakened. “Sure…” I answered, inwardly unsure. “I want you to walk over to those people playing pool and tell them we would like to play next game. Here’s how: eegan… tah oom meh… oo dee…” Before he had even finished the sentence, I could hear that voice in my mind telling me I couldn’t do it. It was telling me that they probably wouldn’t understand me, and would laugh at me right away for even trying.

Logically, I knew they wouldn’t do that. I was quite certain of it and, even if they had, should that really matter to me anyway? After a little practice and Song’s encouragement, I got up and walked over to the table. Waiting on the side, my nervousness reached an all time high. I felt like I was at a middle school dance again waiting for one specific girl to catch my eye so I could say that one sentence I was repeating in my head over and over. And yet, in this situation, even though that sentence was in a different language, I was afraid of the very same thing. “What if they laugh at me? What if they don’t understand me and I’m caught off guard? What if.. what if.. what if…” As their game came to an end, and my nervousness overcame me, the moment passed and they asked Song in Korean if we wanted to play next. I was so disappointed in myself.

For the remainder of last night, I stayed focused on two major failures. One, my inability to overcome my nervousness by living in the moment and two, the fact that I lost a perfectly good chance to prove something to myself. And what seemed to compound the feeling, was the fact that I had just written two blogs recently regarding those two specific topics. When I woke up this morning, I called my girlfriend and told her what had happened. And she, ever so eloquently, made everything make sense to me in one swift sentence. “Your failure wasn’t being too nervous and missing the chance to prove something to yourself, your failure was not recognizing how this experience can make you better.” She went on to explain to me that this situation in itself was practice for the future. The disappointment I experienced would simply go toward motivating me not to be so nervous next time and to study harder.

THE TAKEAWAY: Thirty minutes ago when all the dust from this conversation with her settled in my mind, I looked out my window at the sunny sky and realized what I wanted to write about today. We always have a choice. Every pitch life throws at us, we have the decision to swing or not. There is no umpire. No one to tell us we’re about to strike out. No crowd yelling, “HEEYYY BATTA BATTA BATTA!!! HEEYY!!!” We are simply standing there alone, and the choice is always ours. We can choose to look back at all the strikes that have flown by untouched, or we can choose to look forward to the infinite pitches we still have the chance to swing at. So today, I say to you, and to myself, pick a spot out in the stands, point to it, and swing away baby.

Swing, swing away.

4 thoughts on “You ALWAYS Have A Choice: Failures and Strikes

  1. Hi Chad,
    I’m still out here and oh how I relate to your blog today. On the 28th of this month,I’m going to put my money where my mouth is because someone called my bluff (more or less). I’ve been working on a project for years and have boasted that my technology is way ahead of the competition and that the competition really doesn’t know what they are doing technically and that given the opportunity I could hold my own with the best.

    So, the people I’m consulting for have invited me on a presentation to the president, owner and CEO, the President and the Executive VP of technology as their technical adviser to see if this company is interested in a joint venture using the technology I’ve developed. I think I know my stuff, but this is a billion dollar plus company and the CEO’s corporate compensation package (its a public company) is 11+ million dollars and the the executive VP of engineering has 21 patents in the field that I’ve said “I know more than they do” in.

    Here’s my dilemma. Deep down inside I know I’m right about everything I’ve said. I’ve studied their patents which has given me confidence in my knowledge. I’ve looked at their product line and believe what I have to offer is superior but, between the three people I’m meeting with have a net worth of over 250 million dollars and their combined annual compensation from the company is over 13 million a year.

    I’m not intimidated by their technology, I’m intimidated by this level of financial success. I’m finding myself saying to myself, “If I’m so sure of myself and think I know so much, why would they pay attention to a guy like me whose net worth and annual compensation would be something they’d pay for out of pocket change

    I know I’ve got a choice and I know I’m using the wrong benchmark, but I’m stuck in a rut. I’m more concerned about how successful they are than what I believe I have to offer.

    I’ll give you my story “after the dust settles.”

    Dave Hadden

    • It seems that because the situation before you is one that you are not used to, it caused you to second guess yourself. This is exactly what happened to me. I was intimidated by the fact that they were younger Korean’s and had a vastly superior knowledge of the language. But, like the amount of money these men you speak of are paid, their language ability had no effect on my knowledge or my ability to speak to them. They could be a child, or the President of South Korea. Either way, what I know and what goes on inside me should not change.

      We both, and I’m sure almost everyone in the world, experience these feelings as a result of losing belief in ourselves. As long as we can hold that belief constant, however, it will be damn hard to shake us.

  2. Accepting fear and having empathy for yourself helps me in these situations. I say to myself I am in this postion now and I cannot pretend to be in another, so these people should have sympathy for me, but if not, I will.

    • That’s a great point you make. I can be my own coach in that way. But sometimes I feel like I shouldn’t need a coach. As in, I shouldn’t need a separate entity to make me feel better in times of struggle. You know?

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