It’s not that hard

by Calvin on March 13, 2015

When I turned 40, I was emailing with Gay Hendricks, and he said something that really stuck with me. He said: “Congratulations! Life doesn’t really start to get rolling good until after 40.”

After having spent almost a year as a 40-year old, I can only agree. My life has never worked out better than what it does now. There are so many things that I wanted to do earlier in my life, that I’m only doing now, and it feels absolutely amazing.

My favorite feeling is probably when things just work out exactly the way I want them to. That was certainly not how life felt in my 20s or my 30s.

In the past year, I’ve taken up singing, bartending, spanish, drumming, physical fitness, stand-up comedy, team building, sexuality, guitar, and more. And all of them, I’m now mastering fairly easily –  some faster than others. These are all areas that have been on my desire list for a long time, and it has taken me until now to master them.

The major difference between then and now, I realized, is that before, I would spend the majority of my time and effort wondering if I had it in me. I would use any outcome that was less than perfect as an indication that I probably didn’t, and I’d hold back on doing the work.

For some things, I even had an internal belief that if you had to work for it, it didn’t count. When I was in college, for example, I really wanted to be fit and good looking. But at the same time, I had the belief that actually working out was shameful. When I went running, I prayed that I wouldn’t meet anyone I knew, because it was shameful. If you had to work for it, it means you didn’t “qualify” somehow. Let’s just say it wasn’t a belief that helped me work hard in the gym.

These days, I know that I can learn pretty much anything I put my mind to. As long as I put in the effort, use the best of my abilities, mind, body, and spirit, I will get it. If I want to.

After Burning Man, I realized that I really wanted to learn bartending, or as the kids call it these days, mixology. And I wanted to learn at one of the snazziest restaurant bars in the city, Acme. I set my sights on them, approached them, and they agreed to train me for free, in i live environment. Why they agreed to do that, I’m still not sure, but I’m eternally grateful.

After a couple of months of studying mixology, I feel like I’ve mastered that area to where I want to be with it. I got the fundamentals down solid, and a foundation to build on. I’ve learned enough that a friend of a friend who have worked in the liquor industry for decades said I made some of the best drinks she’d had. I make my own syrups, my own liqueurs such as coffee liqueur and limoncello, and I can go anywhere I want to go with it from here. Turns out that was all I wanted from this particular area. But I didn’t know how far I wanted to take it until I tried.

Some areas, like Spanish, I realized I don’t care enough about to put in the time and effort. I know I’ll get there eventually, but right now, music and team building are more important to me, so Spanish will have to wait a bit. I’m still doing a little bit every once in a while, just to keep it in play, but it’s not a focus area.

The key point I want to get through here is that simply knowing that I can master anything I truly want to master, anything I’m willing to put in the time and effort to master, I can. Before, when I was constantly doubting myself and trying to figure out whether I “had what it takes”, that was the exact thing keeping me from doing what it takes to get there.

It’s pretty much all just a matter of practice.

That said, I do feel like there’s another aspect as well. I’m a very different person today than I was then. Back then, I had no idea who I was. I had no idea about what I felt about anything. I was so far removed from myself and my body. I don’t think I could arrive at where I am today without doing the work to change that. That’s the foundation. If you’re too far removed from yourself, something’s going to be missing, no matter what you do, and that something is your essence. If you don’t want you, if you don’t love you, then something’s going to be missing. Numerology and name changes, I feel, have been a major part of that journey as well.

And the beauty of it is, connecting with yourself, getting to know yourself, loving yourself, accessing your body and your bodymind, are also things that you can master, like anything else. So if that’s your challenge, I’d say start there. That doesn’t mean you can’t also learn Italian or playing the harp at the same time, but make sure that connecting with your innermost in the most loving way possible is right at the top of the list of things to master, if it’s not something you already do.

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Insight: Overestimating and underestimating

by Calvin on October 23, 2014

I just realized: I have shame around overestimating myself. If I overestimate myself and my capabilities, especially in the way that I present myself to the world, and I get caught, then that’s really really shameful. I’m a fraud, I’m an egomaniac, I’m self-absorbed, I’m a hot-air balloon, and whatnot.

Somehow underestimating myself dosen’t carry that same level of shame. Underestimating myself is noble, humble, righteous, virtuous, admirable.

But in reality, underestimating myself is just as bad as overestimating.

By underestimating myself, I hold myself back from doing the things I’m capable of, which ends up robbing other people of the gifts and talents I have to offer.

And underestimating is possibly even worse than overestimating: Since we tend to gravitate towards our self-image, perhaps having a somewhat inflated self-image could possibly help us get there, and be even better positioned to share even greater gifts.

If you’re trying to stay precisely on a given line, but straying to one side of the line is deadly, and straying to the other side is relatively harmless, or even “noble”, guess which side you’re going to err on?

If both are equally bad, there’s a much greater chance of you staying on that line.

That’s how I want to think about underestimating and overestimating myself.

If you’re not willing to overestimate yourself sometimes, you’re bound to underestimate yourself all of the time.

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