Practicing What I Preach: Having an “Aha Moment” While Talking Aloud

Over the years I have given many speeches about life and business. I frequently tell people that some of the best speeches I have given have been ones when I discuss topics I am struggling with at that moment. These speeches allow me to be transparent and to speak truly from the heart because I’m in the middle of experiencing for myself the issues I am discussing with the audience. They also occasionally present to me an “aha moment.”

A few years back I was the guest speaker at a real estate Mastermind event. I was appearing in front of 300-plus people and I wanted to deliver a profound speech about fulfilling one’s potential — be all you are created to be, live the life you’re supposed to live, etc., etc.

After finishing the speech, I received tons of compliments. It was nice to hear. But a few days later, as I was reflecting on the moment, it hit me: I wasn’t giving that speech to 300 people. I was giving that speech to myself in front of 300 people.

I recently had a similar revelation while talking with my daughter, Amanda. Amanda, as you may have heard me say before, is a pretty good athlete. She plays soccer, basketball, and lacrosse. The one thing she does best is she sees the field well. She’s always looking to see her teammates’ and their opponents’ positions before shooting.

In soccer, she plays defense but every now and then she winds up in an offensive position where she should potentially take a shot on goal. Ninety percent of the time, however, Amanda gives up the ball before she shoots. It’s very unselfish of her, but as I have explained to her, there are times when getting the job done herself not only helps her, it enables her to help her team.

This season in basketball has been no different. I have coached Amanda for the last five years and I know what she can do with the basketball. I would never proclaim her to be a superstar shooter but I would say she sees the court just as well as anyone and handles the ball extremely well.

She has played with a lack of confidence most of this year but recently has been showing renewed vigor. After every game, I talk to her about what she did well and what she could have done differently. She rolls her eyes quite frequently.

My advice usually goes something like this:

“Amanda, you have to take your open shots.”

”Don’t be afraid to drive the lane.”

“If the opportunity presents itself, you need to take advantage of it.”

“Fake left, do a crossover dribble, then go right to the hoop. Either dish it off or take the shot.”

Often times, I receive responses from her that sound something like this:

“I don’t want to look bad.”

“I don’t want to make a mistake.”

“I don’t want to look like a ball hog.”

It never fails that every time we have this conversation, I question whether I am talking to her or whether I am really talking to myself. I hear her answers as if they were responses to questions I ask myself.

Am I taking enough chances in my life and in my business to score? Do I see the business field well? If an opportunity presents itself to me, am I going to take advantage of it? If I am struggling to take my business to the next level, is it because I lack confidence or am I afraid to drive the lane and take the shot?

Would I reply with the same responses Amanda does? It’s an interesting thought and a question of self-awareness.

The answers to these questions are found in the questions themselves. If I’m having this kind of conversation with myself, then I know deep down I can be doing more. I know something within me — fear, perhaps; appearing selfish, maybe — is preventing me from taking chances to do better.

At home after Amanda’s last game, while we were having one of our usual discussions, I told her about this “aha moment.” I let her know that after the next game, when I ask her these questions, she can answer first, and then she can fire right back at me with the same questions: Dad, are you driving the lane? Dad, are you taking the shot when the opportunity presents itself?

She smiled and said, “Now I have something I can hold over your head.”  She then thanked me for sharing my struggle with her and went to bed.

Just as I try to convey to Amanda — and to myself — that there are times when you need to drive the lane, take the shot, or pass, I am posing the same questions to you.  Are you taking advantage of the opportunities that present themselves to you in your business and in life? If nothing external is holding you back, and you’re still not moving forward, you have to ask yourself, what within you is keeping you from reaching the next level?

If it’s fear, then it’s time to recognize it, put it in a bottle and leave it on a shelf. Then work through the steps to get where you want to be. You will find that the exercise frees you from boundaries you’ve created, and you may just end up being better to yourself and to the people around you.