Years ago when I lived in West Virginia, a good friend of mine asked me to go fishing at his father’s property in the mountains. This wasn’t just any property; this was thousands of acres of Appalachian wilderness with a river running through it. It was a beautiful and majestic sight to see.
We hiked for nearly 2 hours to get to riverbank my buddy wanted to fish from. It was an exhausting hike and early in the afternoon, while he was fishing several hundreds yards down stream, I decided to take a nap near a tree.
When I woke up 30 minutes later, there wasn’t another soul around. It was like a scene from deliverance—I could hear the banjos playing in my mind. While it was peaceful, it was a bit terrifying. I couldn’t find my friend anywhere. Was he ok, did an animal attack him? For the first time in my life, I felt a sense of fear like I’d never felt before. I knew no matter how loud I screamed, I was hours away from anyone who could hear me. I didn’t know where I was, how to get out and I had no compass, no food and no real experience outdoors.
This was not the outcome I had intended when we innocently agreed to go fishing. But after nearly an hour of hiking and searching a yelling my friend’s name, I finally was relieved of my fear when I located him down stream.
So much of life is similar to this experience. You start out with one thing in mind and then, without consciously intending to do so, end up in an entirely different location with fear gripping your mind as to what could happen.
Put this into context with your TV hosting journey for a moment.
We’ve all watched that show that first got us dreaming big dreams thinking, “I could do that someday!” You get energized. The creative juices are turned on. The ideas flow. You become alive with possibility.
But then you get a few failed auditions in. You’re not bad; in fact, you’re pretty good. But you’re just not quite the fit for what those shows are looking for. Something is missing.
The casting directors are polite. The even make suggestions. But somewhere deep inside you realize that your dream has taken a hit. It hasn’t died, of course. But it has been dialed back—calibrated to the reality of the challenging journey ahead.
At this very moment, you face a decision. Will you take a stand for the original vision or will you—like most people—give into your fear of failure and quit?
The one thing that will keep this from happening is courage. This is the only thing that gives life our dreams once the initial enthusiasm wears off. In my experience, there are six ways to find the courage you need to stand against your fear:
- Take a stand for greatness. Like many important things in life, creating an experience worth pursuing begins with making a commitment. You must resolve in your own heart that you will not sell-out or settle. This isn’t necessary for every job, of course. But when you decide that the dream warrants it, you have to take a stand and play till the end.
- Connect with the original vision. King Solomon once said, “Without vision the people perish” (see Proverbs 29:18 KJV). This is also true for your dreams. Before they exist, they’re only an idea. The only places they exist are inside your head. Sometimes, you just have to close your eyes and once again become determined to accomplish what it is that you are trying to do.
- Remind yourself what is at stake. I have found that the best way to do this is to ask, “Why is this so important?” When I began my journey into hosting, I had a list of ten reasons why I needed to succeed at it. I reviewed it every week. It gave me an internal confidence and it kept me going when I wanted to quit.
- Listen to your heart. Most of us have spent a lifetime ignoring—or even suppressing—our intuition. Regardless, your intuition or “gut-feeling” is the map to buried treasure. It can point us in the right direction. We need to pay attention to this inner voice.
- Speak up. This is the crucial step. You must give voice to your heart and go on the record. If you don’t, who will? You may be the original dream’s last best chance of staying alive. Most people will happily give in, give up, and move on. Most people have more to do than they can get done, so they are reluctant to go through one more pain to get it right. But if they don’t, they will never achieve the dream! This is why you can’t afford to remain silent.
- Be stubborn. This is perhaps the toughest part of all. We all want to be liked. We don’t want to be “high-maintenance” or unreasonable. But think back on your own history. Aren’t the people you respect the most also the ones who demanded the most from you? You may not have fully appreciated it at the time, but, looking back, their stubborn refusal to settle is what made the difference.
Look, mediocrity is natural. You don’t have to do anything to drift there. It just happens. But if you want to create truly amazing experiences, then it’s going to require courage. Are you willing to be brave?