I suck being on camera and I’m not the best with thinking on my feet. The only person I could probably beat in a rap battle is a guy in a coma – and that might even be a stretch.
I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that I’ll never fulfill my dream of being Rabbit from 8 Mile. It still stings a little when I think about it.
For whatever reason I freeze up. This happens when I’m on camera too. I overthink the situation by analyzing every little thing. My monkey mind takes over.
Am I looking at the camera?
Am I too creepy?
Am I loud enough?
Am I too loud?
Am I annunciating properly?
That’s about when my brain just stops forming coherent thoughts and I end up looking like a deer in headlights.
This has caused me to shy away from a lot of things because I was looking at the end result wrong. I was looking at it from the perspective of how everyone else sees it. Deer in headlights equals fail.
It wasn’t until 2015 that I changed my approach thanks to comic strip Dilbert, or specifically Scott Adams – the creator of Dilbert.
He was on Tim Ferriss’ podcast which I listen to all the time and highly recommend. Scott was talking about his criteria for success and failure for anything he does. Rather than taking the outside perspective, like accolades and wealth, he bases his success on the skills he learns. Freakin. Genius.
Regardless if he succeeds or fails based on an outside perspective, he is learning skills to get better the next time or using those skills on other endeavor.
After hearing this I naturally had to try it out; which leads me to a story…
HOW I WASTED 4 HOURS FOR 90 SECONDS
Back when I first started Aesthetic Physiques, I had a 90 second intro video on the homepage. I was nervous as hell to film it. I must have put it off for weeks before I actually mustered up enough courage to film it.
All that was running through my head was:
How can I remember all the lines?
Are people from the west coast going to understand my Rhode Island accent?
Are people going to believe what I’m saying?
It took me 4 hours to record the whole video without stumbling over my words or getting that deer in headlights look. 4 freaking hours! For longer than a football game I was trying to record 90 seconds of video. That’s just pathetic.
After that painful situation, I decided to come out with Fitness Tip Friday. Every Friday I would send out a little 1-2 minute video of different fitness related tips. So while providing a little morsel of information for my readers, I was also getting better at being in front of a camera and shutting down my monkey mind. Even if my subscribers revolted and said Fitness Tip Friday was the worst shit in the world, I still won.
My Instagram daily experiment is along the same lines. I’ve struggled to get a social media following in 2016. I’m not a big fan of social media mainly because of the monkey mind so I was never consistent with it. The Stories feature is going to force me to get better
1) in front of the camera and
2) with thinking on my feet.
So even if no one watches (which I hope doesn’t happen) I’ll gain those two skills for use in other aspects of my life. Chalk it up in the win column.
So how do you apply this to your life? First you need to…
FIND THE META SKILL
If you look at different activities, projects etc. there are always underlying meta skills that can be used laterally for different things.
For example, in my instance my monkey mind takes over in front of a camera. It also does this when I’m talking in a meeting, talking in front of a group or in general conversation with someone I don’t know. For me, the meta skill in taming the monkey mind.
Take a look at what things you’ve avoided over the years. Are there commonalities? Chances are there is some skill you have been lacking which is holding you back.
Failing to stick with a diet? Maybe your pass/fail criteria is too strict. If you cheat once and then go off the rails for 2 weeks, your success/fail criteria is probably too strict.
Can’t exercise? Maybe you play the victim too much. Everyone’s job is stressful; you don’t need to sit in front of the TV all night to recoup. By doing that you are playing the victim.
Self-awareness is key. We all have flaws. The sooner you can recognize yours the sooner you can put things in place to fix them or at least lessen their impact on your life.
After you’ve identified the meta skill, now it’s time to do something about it.
Find something with a low cost of entry, you can do quickly and that you can add to the situation you are already in. Like in my Fitness Tip Friday example. There was no start-up cost and I just need my phone, Wi-Fi and I was providing value to people.
Going back to the diet example earlier, instead of going 100% diet all day everyday – bring it down to 80% and leave yourself some outs. Things like parties or travelling where you allow yourself to go off the diet a few times without consequence. This is much easier on the mind and if you screw up – it’s OK.
Or the exercise example, rather than sitting in front of the TV because you’re “tired from a stressful day” do some chores around the house, go for a walk after dinner or play with the dog or kids. Find something other than sitting down all night.
Now that you’re taking action focus on gaining the skill rather than how people perceive your success or failure. It’s a paradigm shift but it makes everything a little easier.
Got everything recorded in less takes than last time? That’s progress.
Stuck with a diet for 2 months? That’s progress.
Went for an after dinner walk for the last 3 weeks? That’s progress.
Sure you might not be losing 3lbs a week but the mindset and skills you’ve learned over that time are much more beneficial in the long run.
Small changes like this seem stupid at first but they have a compound effect over time. This is how people end up losing 100+ lbs. or go on to be successful in life.
Just remember, the faster you start, the faster you’ll get better.
What’s one meta skill that has been holding you back and how can you fix it today?
P.S. I now find I only do things to gain a skill. If I can’t gain a new skill or enhance an old one from the activity I’ll avoid it.