This post was originally published on OohBother in January 2014.
As I alluded to in my last blog post, for years I was a touring musician. I hung out with Tim McGraw and Chris Young and Taylor Swift and a score of others. Careful you don’t trip over those names I just dropped. Don’t worry, I dropped them there for a reason, which we’ll get around to. I’ll pick ‘em up.
This morning, I walked into a great little sandwich shop called the Franklin Mercantile in downtown Franklin, TN, and there, at a table off to the side, was a face I recognized. Was it Keith Urban? Or maybe George Strait? Bono?
No, it was a man by the name of Michael Hyatt: public speaker, author, blogger extraordinaire, and most of all, a frequent voice in my ears as I constantly listen to his podcast. (And you should too! Try this one on for size. Trust me!)
Any way, here I am in the Mercantile faced with a blogger of all things, and I’m completely starstruck. I had to at least say hi, right? I mean, I listen to his podcasts daily so we’re basically best friends. So I mustered up a little gumption and strolled over.
“I’m sorry to interrupt, guys. You’re Michael, right?”
“Yes, I am,” he smiled and warmly offered a handshake–what a fantastic human. “And what’s your name?”
“I’m Brian.” I shook his hand and looked him in the eye in as confident and peer-like a manner as I could feign, in my mind thinking “Please, dear god, just like me!” I introduced myself to Mr. Hyatt’s companion and asked how they knew each other. He said he worked down the road for Dave Ramsey (surely you’re familiar with him right?? If not, I’d rectify that as well. He’s the guy that helps you not be broke forever.)
I couldn’t control my nerves. I started to slide down that slippery slope.
“Oh, I used to deliver pizza to Dave Ramsey.” Dammit. No. Bad Brian. But don’t worry, I wasn’t done completely wetting myself. I had to really clinch it. So, to follow that up, I shrugged and threw my hands out in front of me, palms up like a mobster would, and said, “It’s all connected, isn’t it!”
They chuckled politely, and said something nice which I interpreted as, “You poor sap. You’ll never belong at a lunch table with us,” and I said I’d let them alone but that I had just wanted to tell Mr. Hyatt thanks for what he does.
So there it was. I had found a chink in my armor of self-assuredness.
I kicked myself for a few minutes for saying something stupid, but then I began to dissect it a bit.
Why were these two guys so important that I had to try and play it cool, that I couldn’t be myself? Instead I had to put up a front, say something stupid, stammer through an even weaker follow up and walk away kicking myself.
It came down to a question of identity. What did I believe about myself? What did I believe about others?
It’s simple. Here’s what I’ve come up with:
1. Misplaced Value
How had I come up with his value versus my own? Facebook followers? Bank account balances? The success of his blog? These are all artificial measurements. My value as a person in intrinsic, as is Michael Hyatt’s. As is yours. There is no metric in either of our lives that can represent that value.
2. Confusing Want With Need
I somehow managed to make this distinction as a sophomore in high school. It’s appropriate to want people to like you, to want to mesh with the society around you. But ultimately you cannot need it. At that point, your self-worth hinges upon the uncontrollable actions and emotions of others. If Mr. Hyatt decides he can’t stand the sight of me, my intrinsic value hasn’t changed, nor has my potential to do great things.
3. Pedestal Placement
I had these guys on a pedestal in my mind, when ultimately, I should have viewed them as peers. Not because we are equals in every way, or because I’m haughty and arrogant, or because I know as much as Michael–I don’t–but going back to the idea of intrinsic value, we are all just men seeking to grow, making mistakes, loving our families, and so on. We are peers before God. If I keep that fundamentally level playing field in mind, suddenly I can look these men in the eye with self-assuredness and confidence, appreciating who they are without feeling inferior.
Well, I finally stopped mentally kicking myself and tried to remind myself of these things. I told my wife, “Why do I care so much what I said, or what they think? Am I in eighth grade again? No. I’m a solid man. I’m good the way I am, and constantly growing. I’m not going to let myself care any more.”
And I was mostly successful at convincing myself of this. Then I sipped more coffee and looked at my wife who is smokin’ hot, and watched my totally badass son and allowed myself to bask in those things, telling myself that whatever guy could convince that gorgeous woman to marry him, and then somehow produce that cool of a kid, must have something going for him, right?
You may not have my hot wife or my awesome sons, but you do have intrinsic value of your own. It’s time to believe that.
To his credit, when I first published this post in January 2014, Michael Hyatt read it and commented on it, saying, “Brian, I think you’re awesome! Loved this post. I have felt the EXACT same way when meeting people.” The guy is a champ. Check out his site, and if you have any interest whatsoever in building an online business, his book Platform is authoritative and thorough.