Have you ever had to make a hard decision, have a tough conversation, or had a risky but rewarding opportunity in front of you, but you’re too afraid to do it? You know in your gut that if you don’t follow through, your life could be forever affected.
Do you know what I’m talking about?
I owe a massive part of my career to one of these painful, but incredibly rewarding, moments. A moment where I felt like a complete failure, completely humiliated, and the result of how I handled that moment ended up defining my career and permanently impacting my life. Yes, it all boils down to one brief, terrifying moment that I could have easily let pass me by.
Yes, it all boils down to one brief, terrifying moment that I could have easily let pass me by.
As a kid, I dreamed of growing up and playing guitar for a big rock band, playing to countless people throughout sold out arenas every night. I wanted to be on TV screens and award shows.
I ached for that dream. I wanted it bad.
The problem was, I was living in Texas. And in Texas, they love their country music, which didn't create a lot of opportunities to make money as a rock musician — and I needed to make money. So when I got an opportunity to play in a country band, I jumped at it.
I was 19, and to prepare for my first gig I had three days to learn 40 songs. The only way I could be ready in such a short amount of time was to write cheat-sheets with the chords I had to play. However, I was afraid people might think less of me if they saw me reading the music. So I had a brilliant idea: I wrote all of my charts on a small notepad using just pen. The problem with this brilliant idea: They weren’t the easiest thing to see.
When I showed up that first night to play, the bar was a dark, smoke-hazed room with a neon light glow. I'll never forget when the drummer counted off the first song: I looked down at my charts and I couldn't see a thing. I had the worst, sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach: "I can't see what to play to get through one song and I have 40 more of these to go!"
I tried faking my way through a few other songs, but all my "hot rock guitar licks" didn't work. It was a complete disaster. Total fail.
During the break, I went out and sat in the car with my brother. I was humiliated, in total disbelief. I'd never experienced that kind of failure in front of a crowd before. I imagined asking him to go in there, get all my equipment, and bring it out to me so that I wouldn't have to go back in and show my face.
After listening to me complain, he leaned in and said something so simple and yet so profound: "Ed, it's not that bad. It's not as bad as you think."
"Ed, it's not that bad. It's not as bad as you think."
While that may not be the motivational speech of the century, those words were just enough to give me the courage to think that maybe those thoughts that "I'm embarrassing myself in there" were just a lie, or at least not as bad as I had made it out to be. It gave me just enough courage to go back in there and to show up for the rest of that show.
Today, I perform for millions, in sold out arenas, and for some of today’s top country artists.
Over the years, I've repeatedly thought about that night and how thankful I am that I made the hard decision to go back on that stage and to show up. I've learned that those things we fear, those scenarios we create in our mind, the pretend dialogues, they are only a lie. And when these lies are perceived as truth, we give them way more power than they deserve, allowing them to prevent us from taking huge, life-changing leaps.
What if I hadn't gone back on that stage that night? I'm convinced, the next time I got a call for a country gig, I would have told myself, "I'm no good at country music." I certainly would not have the career I have today.
Since then, I've had to face more incredibly hard moments like that, both personally and professionally. And to this day, not a single one of my "what if" worst case scenarios I imagined has ever happened. I've been surprised and amazed more times than I can tell.
Through all these years, I've learned a better way for dealing with intimidation and fear. I lean into my faith in God. I trust Him to take control of whatever may happen. I ask Him to guide what to say and how to respond. I trust Him with my talents, and I give Him control over my fears and insecurities. I ask Him to work behind the scenes for me.
I trust Him with my talents, and I give Him control over my fears and insecurities.
When I remember to do that, I find this crazy, unstoppable peace.
I think sometimes all God needs us to do, besides preparation on our part, is to simply show up. Let him handle the rest. It's the easiest thing we can do but at times it will feel like the hardest. But I’m telling you, it’s worth it.
What will you show up for today?
Ed Eason is a guitarist, speaker and a connector. As a guitarist, Ed has performed and toured with multi-platinum artists such as Carrie Underwood, The Band Perry, SHeDAISY, and many more.To inquire about Ed speaking at your next event visit his website at www.edeason.com.
For another story about stepping out of your comfort zone and showing up, watch our new White Chair Film: