Have you seen this 1983 coming-of-age/sports classic? I’m not a sports person, but I identified with Stef (Tom Cruise).
I grew up in a Midwestern town, not really like Ampipe, but enough so that I understood Stef’s plight. I didn’t really want to “get out” like a Springstein song or anything. I was just curious what I could discover and achieve outside the comfort zone of everything I knew.
The older I get, the more I realize it’s not so much about where you are, it’s how you invest your time. But time became a lot easier to manage away from safety and comforting distractions.
I’m still in love with the Midwest. It’s really where my heart is. But that’s a subject for another post.
My city had a heyday in the roaring 20s and for a better part of the century. It’s near Detroit and Chicago, so it was a crosshairs for a lot of action back then.
With manufacturing jobs being swept away to China and Mexico, cities like mine bled out its population as the main industries were removed. It went from 300,000 at its peak to around 100,000 by the time I left, and earned its place in America’s “Rustbelt”.
I always felt split because there were things I loved about my hometown, but I would drive around the city feeling there was something missing. I guess looking back you could call it opportunity or potential. Not that it wasn’t there. I just couldn’t see it.
My perspective was limited. I didn’t know what was possible. But I knew there had to be something.
“Is retail really all there is? Who are those people wearing nice clothes? Professionals, business people. How do they get into business? How do they achieve that world with button-up shirts and weekends off? How do I become one of them?”
I have a deep resonance with the grocery store. It was where I got a job once I could drive. Those were my options. That was my world. I always wanted to do something abstract, use my mind for work. But I had no idea what that meant or how to get started.
I felt frustrated unloading freight trucks and unpacking cases of Robitussin, but that was where I was.
I bought a puffy orange coat from the thrift store when I was 16. It mimicked the kind of things I saw in off-beat dramadies I was so into at the time. It was throwback. It set me apart. People saying, “Cool coat!” was a big part of what built up my ego back then. I knew there were higher levels of achievement I could aspire to beyond being perceived as interesting. I just couldn’t figure out what they were just yet.
Shining moments of compliments about my clothes or people saying I was clever made me feel good about myself. I was an insecure teenager. An awkward kid in lower-middle class America. I had a tough time reconciling the gap between fashion models on magazines, women on TV, the girls who the guys that I liked dated, and myself. And for some reason that was really overpowering to me.
So back to the present. I still struggle with self-confidence in a different way. I wonder if I’m achieving to my fullest potential. It’s that drive that pushes entrepreneurs, but it’s also what drives us nuts. I go through phases of feeling like I understand the world, everyone in it and myself deeply, to feeling like that confused, awkward kid in Ohio with chubby arms.
“Am I doing it right?” “Am I missing something” “Was that a good idea?”
I go through the same thing with my diet and trying to heal this leaky gut and food sensitivities. Analyzing and wondering and wiping myself out.
So a couple of weeks ago I was having one of those dips in self-confidence and generally feeling a little burned out and Nick turned on the T.V. asking, “Have you seen this movie?”
I said no.
He said “It’s kind of about what you’re doing.”
“What I’m doing?”
“Trying to make all the right moves. Trying really hard to make things turn out the way you want them to.”
I can’t tell you how much I was drawn into this Tom Cruise/Lea Thompson teen flick. I totally got it. It totally got me.
I don’t want to spoil it for you if you’ve never seen it, but man did I feel good after watching it.
I didn’t feel alone. It reminded me that these things I was feeling were totally normal. I resonated with working so hard – really investing with every fraction of energy and life, and the incredible blow of defeat after all that. Then there’s satisfaction the comes once you pick yourself up and try again or try something new – and it actually works.
There’s no one path to success, and they all involve failure, side tracking and re-imagining in some form. They mean making all the right moves, like taking action even when you don’t feel like it.
One of my favorite quotes is, “Vision without action is a daydream.” It used to be a threat, but now it’s a motivator and a confirmation.
So if you’re feeling discouraged, watch All The Right Moves and then try again tomorrow. You’ll feel better. Promise.