A month ago I was on the radio with Dave Ramsey. And I was terrified.
Not because of him. He’s an incredibly kind interviewer, warm and funny and gregarious in person. It wasn’t the subject matter that had me scared. We were talking about my new book Quitter: Closing the Gap Between Your Day Job and Your Dream Job. I love to talk about that. So why was I so sweaty, nervous and awkward during the interview?
I stink at being on the radio.
Although I love public speaking, the radio is a completely different animal. There might be millions of people listening—and in Dave’s case there are—but, in that room, it’s just me and him. There’s no audience to react to, no crowd energy to bounce around with, no playground of a stage to soar around on.
So I freeze. I choke up. I go way beyond the “Red Zone protection” the Old Spice Guy has assured me would make me as cool as the Matterhorn in such moments.
After our segment, I talked to Blake, Dave’s producer, and said, “I don’t know how he does it every day. He’s like Michael Jordan in there. Unbelievable. That’s hard!” Without even swiveling in his chair, Blake dropped a bomb on me:
“True, but remember, you’re seeing 17 years of practice and hard work and mastery.”
I wanted to hug Blake in that moment, but it’s awkward to hug people when they’re seated and you’re standing. It never goes well. So instead I thought I would tell you the principle I heard in Blake’s comment:
“Never compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.”
One of the great temptations for us as leaders and dreamers is to compare the start of our new adventures to the middle of someone else’s. You work on your first book and pick up Max Lucado’s 14th book and say, “Mine isn’t as good.” You post your first blog post and look at Michael Hyatt’s 100th and think, “Mine is nowhere near as great as that.” You give your first speech and watch Ken Robinson’s 1,000th at TED and think, “I’m not great like that.”
It’s true. You’re not. Yet.
This is just your beginning. Give yourself the gift of time. Love your dream and your adventure enough to allow it to grow slowly. Don’t be like me, sitting sweaty in a radio chair across from Dave Ramsey, beating yourself up and saying, “I’m nowhere near as good at being on the radio as he is.”
Of course I’m not! He’s been doing it for 17 years, and I’ve been on his show twice. I’m just getting my start, and maybe you are too. Go slow. Get better over time. And never compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.