about life

Zen and the Art of Getting Over Yourself

Yesterday I did something totally out of my comfort zone. I went to a recording studio and laid down a few tracks. The studio, in case you’re curious, is in my friend Dennis’ basement. He’s got quite the set up.

Dennis asked me to come by after he heard this recording that I did using my iPad and Soundcloud. That was my first step out of my comfort zone a few weeks ago. I have been learning how to sing and play guitar at the same time for about 25 years (yeah, I know), and I figured that I’d gotten this song to the point that I’d just record it. I had no intention of publishing it. That would be insane. What would people think? What if I suck? What if people think that I am showing off? What if I suck and people say I don’t just to be nice?

All of those ridiculous things went through my head. Then I just hit Publish.

You know what? The world didn’t end. I didn’t suck. A few friends thought it actually sounded pretty good. I started to feel comfortable with the idea of publishing songs I’d recorded. And then Dennis emailed me and said “come over, and we’ll record the song in my studio.”

And then I was out of my comfort zone all over again.

For those of you who have never recorded in a studio before, it’s a fairly unnerving experience. First, I had to lay down the guitar track. Yep, just me, playing guitar, singing along in my head, trying to make sure I got the chords right (did I play that G for 4 bars or 6 bars?). I am not a confident guitar player so that took a lot of concentration. Then it was time to record the vocals. We set up and the second I heard my voice coming back at me in the headphones I started to feel a bit nauseous. What was I doing here? Am I nuts? Whose voice is that? Is that the right note? Forget it. I can’t do this.

But I took a breath. And I sang.

What’s With the Hangups?

I believe that the primary reason people don’t do things is because they are too worried about what other people will think. So that novel never gets written. That course never gets developed. That song never gets composed. That blog never gets started. That startup company never starts up. Think of all the creative ventures that have gone by the wayside because people were too afraid to try. Think of the dreams that haven’t come true because people were so afraid to look silly.

You know who taught me not to be afraid to just sing? Bob LeDrew. I didn’t even know Bob when I saw this article back in 2008. In fact, that article is how Bob and I met. Now we’re great friends, and he’s a source of inspiration to me in so many ways. He taught me that it’s okay to get up on a stage (or into a recording studio) and not be perfect. It’s okay to stumble a bit at first, as long as you learn from it and keep going.

He taught me that it’s okay to believe in yourself. And that it’s essential to get over yourself.

Comfort Zone, Shmomfort Zone

I’m convinced we use that comfort zone thing as an excuse. (Oh no, I can’t do that. I’m not comfortable. It makes me nervous. I’m too shy.)

Pardon my French, but screw that.

We really do need to get over ourselves. As my good friend and business partner says, we need to “outshout the voices” in our heads that tell us we can’t do stuff. We need to fight through the nervousness and the nausea, and just start doing what we want to do, in spite of it. Because you know what? I sang my guts out yesterday. I fought through the knot in my stomach and I did it. And it sounded good. And I had fun.

As for the results of my efforts, you’ll have to wait while Dennis works his magic on the mixing board. But rest assured I’ll be showing the world when it’s done. Because I’m so over myself. And I know now that living a creative life requires that.

So you? What are you going to do to get over yourself and just do that thing you’ve always wanted to do?

[photo: Greg McMullen]

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