Going All In

In Playing With Movement, author Todd Hargrove shares how worry can lead to the exact outcome we're trying to avoid:

"In many situations, worrying about a bad outcome will make it more likely. Fear is the enemy, and playing with risk is a way to learn to master it."

In Stillness is the Key, author Ryan Holiday explores a similar idea:

"Whatever you face, whatever you’re doing will require, first and foremost, that you don’t defeat yourself. That you don’t make it harder by overthinking, by needless doubts, or by second-guessing."

When I was actively performing music, I could relate with this concept when playing new songs or revisiting old ones. I'd get anxious about forgetting the lyrics, so I'd do everything I could to embed them in my mind. I refused to stand on stage with my own lyrics written on a piece of paper as a guide. It felt inauthentic as a songwriter and performer. I wanted the audience to feel my relationship with the words I sang, and I thought this would get in the way.

Once I got on stage, the show would go in one of two ways:

  • If I let myself become immersed in the music, I'd enter a flow state. The words would come to me, almost unconsciously, like I'd been singing them for years.
  • If while singing, I let my mind wander to my doubt for even a second, I'd forget the words almost immediately. It was as if my determination to remember the lyrics was what made me forget them.

It didn't matter how I prepared or how much time I put in; mindset was everything.

Beyond Music

I've come to apply this concept to so many aspects of life; building new habits, acquiring skills, presenting my ideas, and truthfully, experiencing life. I remember feeling nervous when going to get my motorcycle license until realizing that there was nothing more I could do to prepare. When it came time to take the test, I took a deep breath and drove like I would any other day. I passed.

I believe that when we overthink what we're doing, it's hard to give it our best shot. We can't get in the flow because we're too focused on getting it "right." As a result, we get it wrong.

While it's unrealistic for me to think that I'll never get nervous about anything again, I've decided to trade my doubts and concerns for commitment to myself and my growth. Once I decide to go after something, I've learned it's best to go all in.