Vulnerability is something that many people struggle with. The reason why is quite obvious – you are allowing yourself to be in a situation that is uncomfortable and could cause a lot of pain. This also explains why so few people ever find true success. When you are comfortable, why would you put yourself in a situation to feel uncomfortable again without a defined end date? Many people don’t, and I don’t blame them. If you’re comfortable making $80,000 per year why would you risk making $40,000 per year with an opportunity to possibly make $120,000? This is why the “middle class” is the largest demographic and also why the 1%ers are just that. In this post, I will discuss three times that I allowed myself to be vulnerable and explain what I got out of the experiences.
You’re probably wondering why the hell I would ever post this picture of myself, and quite frankly, I’m asking myself the same question right now. Musical Theatre was very popular at my school and a wide array of people participated from jocks to nerds and everything in between. I probably don’t have to explain myself about this one, but here it goes. I allowed myself to be vulnerable by stepping my chubby ass on stage wearing white pants, a pink turtleneck that was 3 sizes too small, and lime green suspenders. I’ll just leave the top hat and gloves out of this… Our first performance is always in front of the student body. If there’s one thing that’s intimidating it’s going up on stage in front of all of your friends singing and dancing looking like this… However, this taught me how to perform while being extremely uncomfortable, and allowed me to work on channeling my anxiety into positive energy to catapult me to perform at a much higher level than I thought was possible. As a Senior, I was one of the leads in the musical Oklahoma, and would have never had that opportunity had I not allowed myself to be vulnerable.
Football has always been a passion of mine. My dad was a very successful high school football coach, and I believe I knew his entire playbook by the time I was 10. However, brains are only one part of the equation in athletics. The other more obvious one is ability. As you can probably tell from the previous musical photo I was not the most physically gifted kid in the world. I worked very hard to be as good as possible so I could make an impact for the team. Unfortunately, I was a year younger and played the same position as former Wisconsin Badger and current Cincinnati Bengal, Alex Erickson. I had to figure out how to make an impact in a different way because there was no way I would see the field otherwise. So I started kicking. No one really took kicking seriously so it was a good opportunity for me to get some playing time. I didn’t know a thing about kicking, but I knew I could work hard until I learned. I kicked before practice, during practice, after practice, and as much as I could at home. I watched video after video on how to kick soccer style and took it very seriously. When the season came along I had won the kicking job. Goal number one was accomplished. Now I had to perform when it mattered. The photo above is from a level 2 playoff game in 2010 when I kicked the game-winning field goal as time expired to send us to the third round of the playoffs. The moral of this story is that anyone in this picture could have done what I did. Anyone could have said, “well I don’t know what the hell I’m doing, but I’ll give it a shot.” I was on top of the world after that game and it was all made possible because I was ok with the risk of complete and utter failure.
The most recent of the three and also the most vulnerable position I’ve ever been in is moving 2,050 miles across the country to a city where I didn’t know anyone, and living with middle-aged Italian and Argentinian men. Weird, right? Who in their right mind would ever think about doing that? I did… and if I become super successful it will be for that reason. If you think you’re ready to take on the world and move across the country right after graduation, you’re not. Nothing could possibly prepare you for that kind of transition. You haven’t felt lonely until you don’t have a single friend in not one, but the two closest time zones to you. Having said that, it is also a perfect atmosphere to learn a shitload of information extremely quick. When you segregate yourself you are doing two things. First, you are removing all the distractions that could hinder your learning. When you have no friends you have no one trying to drag you to the bars Wednesday through Sunday which means more time for you to focus on the task at hand. Secondly, it puts you in a sink-or-swim situation. One day I was having an anxiety attack because I was freaking out about being so far from home. I called my mom and said, “I feel so alone out here.” She responded with some of the most powerful words that will stick with me forever “you are.” This was an eye opener for me because it made me realize that I’m in control of me. I’m in control of my outlook for the day, week, month, year. I’m in control of my destiny because at the end of the day it’s you and the choices you make that define your path. Rather than feeling sorry for myself anymore I started learning. I was, and still am reading as many articles about marketing, sales, management, and leadership as I could/can get my hands on. What did it lead to? I connected with Leonard Kim and Ryan Foland, two content juggernauts from LA that are going to help me continue moving towards my goals. I had the opportunity to be featured on Ryan’s Los Angeles based radio show to share my story. And I have made a connection with a San Diego based media marketing company that works with names like Conor McGregor and Chris Weidman.
The opportunities are out there. You just have to be willing to make yourself vulnerable, make lots of sacrifices, work hard and have an imagination as crazy as mine.