Shut out the noise and shine
Recently, I've been watching my alma mater, Xavier University, play a lot of basketball. They are currently #4 in the nation, and it's been fun to see them do well. In one of their latest games, I was impressed and struck by how they can shut the noise out and keep fighting. The noise for them could be many things, such as: fans cheering for the other team, the shot(s) they recently missed, their own thoughts, or the score. One of the best examples of focus, was when a player missed a free throw shot, and then made the next one. The announcers shared that he had a low free throw percentage for the season. I know there is a lot of practice and preparations that go into big games, but the mental focus was impressive. In order to move forward, there was no room for this player to think about missed shots from the past or to let in any other negativity.
What kind of noise is in your life that keeps you from shining? It could be the opinions of people in your life, interactions with coworkers, past experiences, or your own thoughts. For me, the noise in my mind sounds like:
"I've never done this kind of project/workout/craft/recipe/task. What if I fail?"
"I might get a migraine."
"I’ve never had this exact conversation before. What if it goes badly?"
"I have to be vulnerable to experience XYZ. That is scary."
"I can't control the outcome of XYZ. Why try it?"
The good news is that there are countless things in our life that, once upon a time, we had never done before. At one time in your life, you had never driven a car, flown on a plane, gone on a date, tried coffee and the list goes on. Now, it's likely that these things, and many others, have become second nature to you. New adventures wait for us on the other side of our comfort zones. It's never too late in life to try something new. If there are naysayers in your life, it's important to remember they are not you. They do not have your exact frame of reference and your skill set. I wholeheartedly agree with the famous quote from Alfred Lord Tennyson:
“Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all."
We can attribute this to almost anything in life, and say it's better to try than to always wonder what if. Odds are, when you take chances in your personal or professional life, you will succeed or at the very least you will learn something and become stronger.
Another way to think of it, is like this: the answer is always no if you never give something a chance. Would you like Portugal? You will never know until you go there. Would I be successful at making French macarons? I know they are notoriously difficult to make, but they are also one of my favorite desserts. I'll never know until I try. If you are holding back on having a difficult conversation, I know how that can be, but you will be carrying this conversation and this subject around with you, until it happens. Once you talk to this person, you can let it go and move on. It may bring you closer to this person.
When I look back on my life, I want it to be like a patchwork quilt, filled with the colors and patterns of the moments and memories of my life. I know the times that require bravery and strength, help to add design and depth to my quilt. Even if I try many things and experiences that aren't a fit for me, at least I will know that I've added to my quilt. I've lived, and I've been open to the beauty of opportunity. I hope that you can feel the same, and I hope you can realize that "shining" doesn't always mean success. Instead, it means that you tried.