The first time I was on national television, there were two things that terrified me:
1. Putting on my own makeup.
2. Making a mistake in front of a million people.
The first fear is pretty obvious: I have no idea how to put on makeup. I bought some MAC at the counter at a department store. I then stared in complete confusion in the blush aisle at Target trying to imagine if my cheekbones would best be described as “Desert Sunset,” until someone helped me.
The night before I went on Fox & Friends in New York City, I envisioned me showing up with a David Bowie Ziggy Stardust-type sheen on my face. My friends would all see the clip and ask me, “Did someone punch you in the face repeatedly right before you went on the air?”
But, wouldn’t you know it, the girl who sold me the MAC in Nashville happened to be in New York City the same day I was. She contacted me on Twitter and graciously went to FOX to help me with my makeup. Though they ended up having somebody on staff that applied it with an airbrush because it’s an High Def show, having her along for support was awesome. She eventually came to the first Quitter Conference and remains a friend.
Fear number 1 taken care of, but what about number 2? That whole make-a-mistake-in-front-of-a-million-people thing? Well, there’s a secret mantra I learned from my dad that came in handy.
My dad is an adventurous guy. In the 1980s, he started a Southern Baptist Church in Massachusetts, something that was unheard of at the time.
He had three kids, a young wife and a pretty decent mustache. But other than that, he didn’t have a whole lot when he moved our family to Ipswich, Massachusetts. After seminary and working at a church, he decided to plant Grace Baptist in Hudson, Massachusetts.
Decades later, when I talked to him about this, he laughed with me and shared how he looks at doing new things. Often when you strike out on a new adventure, people will ask you, “Have you ever done that before?” The particulars of the “that” are immaterial. It could be starting a business, going to college, or traveling around the world. And here is how my dad and I answer when life asks us the question, “Have you ever done that before?”
“No, but I’m about to.”
It’s really that simple.
Have you ever been on national television? No, but I’m about to.
Have you ever written a book of poems before? No, but I’m about to.
Have you ever biked across the country for charity? No, but I’m about to.
And then you do. That’s it. That’s all it takes to beat back that monster called “my first time.” It gets loud when you try something new. It tells you that you don’t have the right experience or background or a million other things. It tries to get you to rethink your decisions or push pause on your actions. It says over and over again: Have you ever done that before? Have you ever done that before?
When it does, remember my simple response. It’s only five words.
“No, but I’m about to.”
And, then, go do whatever it is you’ve never done. And do it once and then twice and then thrice and then 10 times and then 1,000 times, until you’re absolutely amazing at it.
Every journey has a first step. Every adventure has a first action. Every dream has a first move.
And it might be time to make yours.
What’s something new you’ve been afraid to take a first step toward?