Episode 170- Regrets

So this might be the same for you, but I get asked a lot what I fear. So my fears now are way different than what my fears were 10,15,20 years ago. And oftentimes it’s a collection of different things that you fear. But I could rattle off a laundry list of fears that I’ve had over my life and often fears that I’ve had at the same exact time. The fear of not having enough money, the fear of not being successful, the overwhelming fear that comes with what are people gonna think about me if they’re not going to accept me? Letting people down, playing too small, the fear of choosing something and then finding out it’s the wrong thing. And then it gets deeper. When you think about as you get older, your family, like the fear of not being the best dad or husband, that it could be the fear of making the wrong choices with them.

But through time and experience, I’ve learned that so many of those things aren’t fears anymore to me. But there is one fear, one fear that stays with me that pushes me and that forces me to get uncomfortable to do the things that I know I want to do. But in the moment I’m too scared to do it because oftentimes the practical thing is to not do it. It’s not practical to sit down and start writing a book for everyone. Listen, writing a book is a challenge. It is time and it’s effort. It is struggle. And writing the book is such an ultimate challenge because there is no absolute immediate reward to any of it when you do it. That’s why it’s such a deep respect for people who have written their own books. But my big fear, the only one that really sticks with me is the fear of regret.

In the past I’d allow my failures and my disappointments to guide my decisions. They would slow me down, they would be the log jam that would build up and I realized the only cure for that was just to go do it, whatever it was. But the fear of regret, man, that is the thing that worries me because I see it, I see it all the time. And people that I talked to, people in their mid forties and their 50s and they didn’t do the things that they thought they were going to do. And it sucks because there’s still plenty of time to do these things, but they’re already beaten down. And it’s sad because in 10 or 15 years when they realize, man, I was really young, but I was worried about that when I stopped myself, they’re going to say, man, I thought it was too late then, but it really wasn’t.

So it’s interesting with regret compared to accomplishment, the accomplishments I don’t spend a whole lot of time thinking about, but the regrets, those are the ones that stick with me. And I think back on them and I tell myself what if for instance, what if in high school, and there’s a story that comes back to me in my life that I think about often now, I don’t have very many regrets from high school. I knew school wasn’t my thing. I knew the classes weren’t my thing. I knew there was a world out there outside of the structure of that that was going to be the world that I lived in. But when I was a junior in high school, I had a dream to play the football team and I signed up and I tried out and I had arrived in the locker room in the middle of the summer and a blazing heat and I was ready to go and I didn’t know what position I would play.

I mean I was pretty good all those years playing on the street with my friends. So I figured I’ve got to give it a shot. And I knew I was behind from the beginning because all the guys seem to know each other. They all had the right equipment and the cleats and I didn’t have any of it. So I was kind of made fun of from the beginning. But I got up every day. I walked that mile to school. I practiced out there in the heat, I did the drills, I did the sprints. I tried figuring out what position I was going to try out for and throughout the entire time I was teased and kind of pushed around, not mercifully, but enough to not feel like I belonged, but at that point I wanted so badly to belong in. The first day of school showed up and I wanted to show that I was a part of this team and I wore my Jersey number 33 into school for the first day of classes because I wanted to show that I was a part of that team.

I walked around school all day with that jersey on. At the end of the day, I still was not accepted with those guys. Nobody came up to me and said, Hey, this guy’s our guy. He’s a part of our team. I didn’t get invited to the lunch table. I wasn’t a part of any of the conversations and the next day I didn’t go to practice. The day after that I didn’t go again. And when nobody was looking, I pulled my jersey out of my backpack and I threw it in a bin next to the gym and I never went back. I quit. Like I said, I never actually officially quit because I never told anybody. But more appropriately I gave up. I let those guys opinion or lack of opinion of me to get the best of me and not one person asked where I was. Nobody asked if I was coming back.

Nobody cared. And that’s my fault. It’s my fault because I let them get the best of me. It’s my fault because I never proved myself that I even belonged to be on that team. And during that fall I questioned why I even tried out. I knew it was going to be difficult. I knew it was going to be something that I had never done before. I knew these guys weren’t my friends. I tried out, I believe, because I wanted to prove something to myself and to them and to everybody. I didn’t believe in me. And I quit. And when I look back on that story, I don’t look back on any of it with fondness. Not proud of myself that I wore jersey for a team that I wasn’t even on to school to show that I was part of something that I wasn’t really a part of.

I’m not proud that I gave up. And I believe in quitting very often. I believe you quit the wrong things, but I quit too soon. I quit before I knew I quit before I even had a chance to prove myself. And when you talk about regrets, that’s one of my regrets because if I knew then what I know now, there’s no way anybody would have stopped me from taking the hits and probably winning over some of those people and that I needed them to be my friends. But man, I sure would have loved to have earned some of their respect. And I can tell you, not only did I not earn their respect, but I was forgotten. And quickly, and I’m telling you this because I don’t want you looking back and having the same regrets. And you might be listening to this nodding because you did that in the past, or you’re doing it now, quitting something that you shouldn’t quit just yet.

But the lesson I learned from that was the silver lining. Because if I want to do something, it truly doesn’t matter if I’m the biggest success in the world with it. What matters is if I want it, I’m going to go do it. And I’ll say I’ve quit a lot of things since that September morning in my junior year, but the things I’ve quit are things that I wanted to quit because they weren’t right for me. And I don’t look back with regret to any of them. But this one, this one still eats at me. And the reason why is I’ll never know if what I really wanted would have happened because I didn’t try. And I want you to have as little of those regrets moving forward as possible. So do not let other people’s opinions or disinterest or dissatisfaction help determine what it is that you want to do.

And I’ll talk to you tomorrow.

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