As I mentioned last week, I just started my ninth year as a full-time entrepreneur. I also said that it wasn’t my dream until it was my dream. We’ve spent this entire season looking at my dreams. We started when I was in high school and visited several dreams along the way. So how about you? What’s your dream? I’m serious I want to know. Not sure? Hit the pause button and give it some thought. If you can, close your eyes, clear your mind. Allow your mind to wander and think. Don’t restrict yourself. Don’t tell yourself anything is too silly or too big. Don’t say you’re not smart enough or you don’t have…whatever. Don’t shut yourself down. This is a judgement free exercise, and that means no judging yourself. I mean it. NO JUDGING! Now, hit that pause button and let your mind wander until you’re uncomfortable, and then wander some more. I’ll wait. When you’re ready, hit play.
So how did it go? How do you feel? Scared? Nervous? Excited? Overwhelmed? Happy? Enthusiastic? Inspired? All of those things and more?
You may be sitting out there with a dream similar to mine. Perhaps your dream is nothing like mine. Maybe you’ve heard my story over the last couple of months and found inspiration. I hope so. That’s the very reason I’m sharing my story! I know that just based on the odds, there’s someone listening right now who wants to leave your job. You want to work on your own projects on your own terms with people of your own choosing. You want to escape office politics and bureaucracy. You want to have creative freedom. But you’re scared to make the leap. Maybe you even feel guilty for wanting those things when most people think what you have now is great. Maybe taking that big leap is scary. Who am I kidding? Of course it is! Fear. Doubt. Selfishness. Insecurity. It’s Dangerous!
Don’t focus on the fear, the doubt, the insecurity. Why? Because those thoughts are inward. Those thoughts are centered on you.
Let’s return to the conversation I recently had with my high school teacher, Mr. Harrison. Mr. Harrison was bold and courageous. He drove a blue 1972 Jeep Wrangler. Above the rear fenders he’d installed decals that said tenacity. Tenacious is exactly the word I’d use to describe him. He ruled the classroom with the right balance of power, confidence, compassion, humor, and tact. He seemed to have the perfect lesson prepared for each moment. He’d spent years in the oil business, he’d served in the military, he was educated not only in English and literature, but French, Spanish, and Latin too.
Here he is describing his first day of teaching.
I was driving on my first day as a teacher and I was going along and I was like having a panic attack. Wait a minute! Being a substitute teacher means you leave and you’re gone. Being responsible for everything that these people learn in this particular discipline, that’s a whole other deal. So I was I was somewhere between shaking and paralyzed. And the only thing that I thought was, dear Lord, what am I going to do? Help me. And, you know, it’s one of those prayers that you pray in your mind. I didn’t say it out loud, but in your mind, you’re saying, what am I going to do, Lord? All of a sudden, this panic attack like vanished. And it was- four words came to mind. I don’t know how they came to mind. I don’t remember hearing them. All I remember was knowing them. And it was, “teach my children.” Oh, yeah. Like, that’s not a tall order. Thank you, Lord. That’s a good one. Not teach “the” children. If you just had the little article “the” in there instead of the possessive pronoun that these people belong to God. But at the same time, all of the energy drained out of my consciousness in my being and everything was OK. I even remember where the car was relative to to Wellston. It was just on the other side of what’s called Bell Cow Creek, which is just on that west side of Chandler. I had just crossed that creek, so I had a little ways to go and think I had another, you know, six miles or so or seven.
Fear is false expectations appearing real. My expectations weren’t real. I for whatever reason, I didn’t think that I could do it. And so I was talking myself into thinking that I wasn’t prepared to do it and then I didn’t have the skills to do it. It’s not so hard to sing in the choir, but this wasn’t a choir. This was a solo. And all of the other teachers who didn’t know me from anything, you know, they were all going to be watching every single thing I did. It was a microscope that I had not been under. I think that’s why I was so paralyzed. It’s almost as though I questioned my faith in my calling. Was this the right thing to be doing? And the comfort in just saying, teach my children it wasn’t. You have to teach my children. It wasn’t a command so much as it was just an awareness. And the other side of that coin was, you have to trust me, I’m going to trust you. And when you come to a point with your creator that you feel like your creator is trusting you with something, then that overshadows all of the many false expectations you can have for yourself because you’re there with the power of God. And that’s kind of like a pretty good reference.
The first time he told me this story I was stunned. The idea of Mr. Harrison pulling over to the side of the road paralized by fear is simply not a picture I thought could exist. What would have happened if he’d turned around? My mind was racing trying to think about all of the substantial impact he’d had on my life. I can’t say it any more plainly than this: If he would have turned around that day, my life would be worse because of it. Said better, my life has been immeasurably better because he is part of it.
One of the audio editors on our team at Pro Podcast Solutions is a young guy named Ryan. Ryan started working with me nearly three years ago. He plays several instruments and has a background in music production. He also loves racing and motor bikes. He and his wife, Ashley, have two adorable and energetic boys. He told me one day that his dream was to have a job that allowed him to work from home, make meals for his boys, be there for every moment as they grow, help support his wife’s dreams, and be a stay at home dad. He said that working for PPS had allowed him to live that dream.
Each of us has gotten to where we are because of the choices of others. What if Cliff had never started his LOST podcast or The Podcast Answer Man? What if I’d never asked Stuart if I could be the producer for TV Talk. What if Mr. Harrison had turned his car around and gone home?
After hearing that story about Mr. Harrison’s first day, wouldn’t you like to know what his last day was like three years later? Check this out:
One of the proudest moments of my life was on the last day of school at Wellston before I left. There were two classes and I had taken all of the chairs in the classroom and piled them up. I took every single chair that was in there and piled on top of the next one as though a tornado had come through there. And everybody came in and they just kind of stood there dumbfounded. And I said, go pick out your chair, pick out where you want to sit, not in this classroom where you want to sit in life. And I said, there’s no wrong place. There’s no right place. There’s no front. There’s no back. There’s no east and no north and no west. Just pick out a chair and that’ll be your place. And the whole class did. And then at the end of the class they all stood up on the seats of their chairs and they said in unison, “Oh, captain, my captain.” And I realized I’d done something good.
What an incredible story. If you’re unsure of the “Oh captain my captain” reference, go watch the movie, “Dead Poets Society.”
I don’t ever want you think about your dreams the same way again. Your dreams are not just your dreams. They don’t impact only you. They don’t just fulfull you. They don’t just help you get from where you are now to where you want to go. Your dreams impact others around you in ways that are far too profound for you to fathom from where you stand. Too many times we look out at the horizon and we wonder what might be. We dream, we ponder, we allow our minds to wander and we say to ourselves, “Imagine if.” Now think about the lives of the people you’ll impact and say to yourself, “Imagine if I don’t.”
The reality is, there are people in this world RIGHT NOW depending on you to take the leap. Living your dream will enable others to live their dream! Don’t hold back! Don’t live in fear! Is it dangerous? Some would say so. But Darkwing Duck taught me the proper response to that over 25 years ago. Say it with me now, “LET’S GET DANGEROUS!”
I’m Darrell Darnell, and this has been Stuff I Learned Yesterday episode 572, “Let’s Get Dangerous.” And with that, we’ve reached the end of this first season as we’ve rebooted Stuff I Learned Yesterday. I’ll be back on June 30th for a new season of 10 episodes, all centered around things I learned when I bought my dream car a couple of years ago. In the meantime, during these next five weeks off, I’d love to hear from you. Do you have a story of how this season of stuff I learned yesterday has impacted you or inspired you? Please reach out to me and let me know. And if I get enough responses, I just might put together a bonus episode in between this season and the next one. You can reach out to me on Twitter at GSMPodcasts, Facebook, or our feedback page.