I stared blankly back at the fourteen JV high school boys huddled around me. The game was set to start in two minutes and they wanted to hear what their coach had to say. It’s time for last minute instructions. It’s time to instill in them the confidence that they were prepared for this. But I had nothing. It was a really uninspiring moment for everyone involved.
I grew up playing water polo. I’d been to hundreds of practices preparing for dozens of tournaments. I played at the NCAA level. But right then, in that moment, in my first pre-game huddle, I was failing as a coach.
I can’t remember exactly what happened in that game, or the one after that. But I remember being confused.
Why did that go so badly? Why am I so bad at this?
It’s not the only time that’s happened to me. Last year I developed, planned, and hosted a personal finance boot camp for my fledgling Bedrock Coaching business. It was attended by exactly five people including myself, my wife, and two friends who came as a personal favor so the other attendee wouldn’t be lonely.
About five minutes into my opening my wife interrupted me, “Could you please not pace around so much. It’s distracting.” (She was very sweet about it of course).
In my head I was thinking the same thing. “Why is this going so badly? Why am I so bad at this?”
I’ve always loved coaching and teaching. There’s something that fires me up about helping people reach a new level. And you may not believe me now, but it’s something I’m great at, passionate about, and it’s something I dream of doing more.
But that’s a little weird right given the examples above.
— Deacon Bradley (@deaconbradley) May 15, 2012
Don’t Let Fear Wreck Your Dream
I’m encouraged by something Jon Acuff taught me at Quitter Conf:
Just because you aren’t amazing at something the first time doesn’t mean it’s wrong. This fear wrecks a lot of dreams.
It’s easy to assume Jerry Seinfeld was walking around cracking world-class jokes his whole life, but he was booed off the stage as an amateur.
It’s easy to figure Michael Jordan was juking people out of their shorts in middle school, but he was cut from his high school basketball team.
What if Seinfeld hadn’t worked to become an iconic comic? What if Jordan had given up on becoming one of the greatest basketball players of all time. The world would have missed some extraordinary moments!
Back to Me
So just because I was a horrible leader in my first huddle as a coach doesn’t mean it’s wrong for me. It’s something I worked on and improved. I can’t take all the credit, but we ended up winning our division for the first time in 20 years that season. Giving into that fear that this wasn’t for me could’ve denied a lot of kids a great memory of winning a championship.
And just because I didn’t know how to lead a boot camp doesn’t mean I can’t help people. My one boot camp attendee ended up becoming debt free just 5 months later – what a huge victory!
Be the Worst at Something New
It’s easy to feel like if I were created to do something then it would come easy to me, but unfortunately that’s not true. Knowing what’s right for you comes from knowing yourself. The part after that is good old fashioned hard work. There are plenty of things I have to offer the world, and right now it feels like I’m bad at all of them. So what do you do?
Give yourself permission to be bad at something new. Don’t be held captive by the fear of something new.
I’ll leave you with these inspiring words from Jon Acuff:
Now is the best time to be the worst at something new.
What new thing have you avoided trying because you were afraid to be bad?