I’ve learned a lot recently about reasons versus excuses and how they affect our ability to accomplish what we want to do and become what we’re meant to be. Let’s talk about that, and how this applies in your own life.
I am the oldest child of one of the oldest children of my grandparents who had eight kids. As a result I oftentimes was one of the cute little kids carrying around the train of one of my aunts as they got married. And I actually have an uncle who’s only four years older than I am.
I have a grandmother who is, who was a piano teacher. That’s an important fact for this story.
I was at one of my aunts’ weddings. I was an almost a teenager, a tween, maybe an early teen. We grandkids were waiting reception to start, all dressed up so we couldn’t play like we wanted to, and we were bored.
There was a beautiful grand piano there. So, I walked over to that grand piano and played one of my favorite songs. Now, it wasn’t anything fancy, it wasn’t anything particularly hard. I was never that good. It was just a piece that I loved, and it sounded like it.
One of my aunts came to me later and said, “I want to tell you what grandma said about you as she watched you walk up to that piano and sit down and play. She said, ‘now there’s a confident kid.’”
I’ve thought about that a lot over the years.
In the years that followed, I hit those teenage years when life got a little more tough. And my shell of confidence, that armor that was around me got a little dinged up here and there.
Over the next several years I had normal things happen to me that I didn’t like much. As I say this I realize there are people here who have had major tragedies happen in their lives. Thankfully, I’ve not had most of those experiences.
But over the years as someone turned me down for a date, as I didn’t make the team that I wanted to make, as I didn’t get the award that I worked so for, as I didn’t get accepted to Stanford and Harvard like I dreamed of…
By the way, I have the great honor of being turned down by both Stanford and Harvard, twice each. Now there are very few people who have earned that great honor, but I, I have managed to achieve that rare feat.
As time went on, each one of those little disappointments dinged my armor a bit. So, it was no longer a perfect shell of confidence. It’s got this little dent here and that little dent there. And a couple of the dents hit on a joint. And you know how when a ding happens on a joint – things don’t quite move the way they should afterwards.
Of course, I’ve also had things happen that strengthened that armor, that repaired it, that made it stronger. But I’ve also had other things that damaged it even further.
Then a few years ago, something happened that cracked it.
And that armor that had protected me all my life, now had an open seam that revealed much of the mushiness that lies underneath.
From that experience, and what I’ve experienced since then, I’ve come to know a bit about fear, anxiety, depression, unfulfilled dreams, and disappointment in myself and others.
And I’ve gotten a little glimpse of what so many other people live with every day. Just a glimpse, but enough to be able how hard it must be.
In this process, I’ve learned something about my brain. I’ve learned is that the brain’s job is to protect me. It tries to protect me by keeping me from risk.
As it does that job, sometimes it does not see reality. Depression and anxiety, they’re liars. They simply cannot tell the truth.
There’s a really good book, called What Makes Your Brain Happy And Why You Should Do The Opposite. It’s by David de Salvo. I don’t know if it’s still in print. I hope it is. It’s a good book that’s worth reading.
Whether you read it or not, you’ll change your life if just understand its title and learn from it: “What Makes Your Brain Happy And Why You Should Do The Opposite.”
Because you know what? Our brain is happy when we are protected.
Our brain is quite literally thrilled that it’s doing its job wonderfully well when we are sitting in front of Netflix not taking any risks in our life.
I’m reminded of the quote. “A ship in a Harbor is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for.”
The thing I’ve learned is that so many of the reasons why I’m not accomplishing what I know I can and want to accomplish – those reasons are not reasons at all.
They’re my brain rationalizing to keep me safe.
It’s doing its job. It’s keeping me safe. But, when I let my brain get what it wants to have, what makes it happy, I then don’t achieve what I need to do.
We need to make our brain unhappy.
We need to make our brain uncomfortable.
We need to step beyond what our brain wants if we ever want to come close to becoming what we want to be.
So that’s my question for you. I invite you to think, “what are the things holding me back right now?” Write them down and then look at them and say, “is this a reason or is this an excuse to my brain is giving me to keep me safe?”
“A Ship in the harbor is safe, but that’s not what ships are made for.”
Do this assignment. Then think about it. We’ll come back, have more of a discussion about some very specific steps and things that you can do to beat down your brain and its defenses so that you can become what you’ve always wanted to be.
So, you can become what you’re born to be.
This is Don Crowther saying, just go do this stuff.