What Not to Do the Night Before You Start That New Thing (or turn 40!)

We live a handful of miles from the Bristol Motor Speedway, as the crow flies. Twice a year Nascar fans migrate in to pay homage at the mecca of motor racing, and sometimes we join in…to build community ties and whatnot.

I actually grew up with motor racing as a kid in Florida, my father was an auto-mechanic and would sometimes build or modify dragsters. I remember the drag races with vivid detail: sitting on metal bleachers in the middle of nowhere lost in “L.A.” (lower Alabama). Always, it was on a miserably muggy night, I’d inevitably chafe thanks to my white-ribbed terry cloth shorts that refused to cover all the thighs. The lines in my feet would last for days after my flesh pressed like liver mush through the jelly holes of my clear rubber shoes that bore the name well: jellies. I remember the smell of ketchup-soaked mushy crinkle fries in red and white checkered paper trays, blended with the aroma of burning diesel and cigarette smoke.

I remember commotion. The noise so loud I’d squeeze my fists into my ears, the cheers, the people running around in frantic precision adjusting the wedge, working the two-handled crank, resetting and then GO!

My favorite part of watching any motor race though has been and still is, watching the pit crew.

Imagine the practice involved, the fine-tuning down to the second, the teamwork, the skills that have all been honed for this moment and this moment only: the launch! To come out of the race is inevitable, fuel is a necessary element for any sustainable performance. But how you get into the race, or back into it, this is mission critical.

I think we have all felt the pit crew pressure of launching something. The adrenaline and cold sweat of moving in calculated motion in order to give it your very best, and knowing that in spite of your practice, preparation and even good skills, you are still deeply aware of just how human you are.

Putting the OPEN sign on that door, taking that online store LIVE, clicking SHARE on that crafted image, setting that table and WELCOMING the people to eat, putting the tag on that HANDMADE accessory, giving that diagnosis and OFFERING treatment, GIVING those life stories in those posts and those books.

There is always a first time. A launch.

There’s a reason Houston counts down. We try to control the commotion.

Sometimes the commotion seems to not be there. No one may notice the new Latin “hole in the wall” amidst the scaffolding and crane construction in the City of Websites. ETSY shops pop up, and even with the finest social marketing platforms, no one may take notice the minute it is ready for business.

I think this is why I love being at the opening launch for anything. I appreciate the commotion that goes on inside a person counting down.

We show one another great kindness when we respect each other’s launch. Or maybe even more, their re-launch, because all the failure obsessing from the first attempt has to be sorted out. Some of us never re-emerge from this process.

But sometimes in all our preparations and counting down, we make a fatal mistake in that final pit crew moment.

I’m sure there is more to be said on this subject, but this is what I know you should NOT do the night before you start something new.

  1. Do not rehash all the details of the first time you attempted something, maybe this very thing, and how it went down – good or bad.

Now I’m not saying never review past attempts at launching something. Of course, we learn plenty from objective analysis and asking hard questions. Ideally though, this was all done long before your start or re-entry, and you received adequate feedback, coaching, exercised prayer, whatever is helpful for you to gain wisdom for redirection. Assuming you’ve considered what is different now than the last time, just be done with it, especially the night before you get back out there! This launch time is not that launch time, and you are not that person, not anymore. You are allowed to shape-shift, to change your product, your art, your perspective, your goals, and come back and do it again, for the first time this new way! Do the wise stuff, but then get back out there and let the past go the way of useful research and development.

  1. Do not look at all the people doing the same thing, but doing it so much better than you imagine you will ever do it. Don’t do this!

“Comparison is the thief of joy.”

-Theodore Roosevelt

Ain’t that the truth. I imagine that any pit crew member that crews in the pit does it because they take great joy in their work. I may not have enjoyed those jelly-squeezed feet or humid summer nights at the drag strip, but the men and women scurrying on the blazing asphalt were acting out of sheer delight. My own dad’s joy was like that of a child. In fact, we still see him get all giddy over dragsters.

Joy is what sets our sails for adventure, it is what gives us the courage to count down. We need joy to launch anything worth launching, and comparison will kill it every time. Don’t abort your launch by looking at all the others, there is room in this big wide world for your commotion and launch too.

  1. Do not think about all the other areas of your life, especially relationships, that are not where you wish them to be.

Nascar teaches us some of the finest launches come from a pit.

At best, we learn to struggle well. God himself launched his own creative handmade project designed in his own image, in a setting that housed his enemy. He was and is perfect, but the world was not. He didn’t have everything neat and tidy relationally, or the affairs of the world in order, before he chose to create his masterpiece. If anything, his love art was what the darkness needed.

We will never start anything if we wait for all the things. If something starts to consume your thoughts, consider other options that take your thoughts toward hope in that situation, like prayer or reciting ways you can be grateful for the person or the struggle. Hope makes room for joy, and that is what you most need to embrace!

  1. Do not change your voice, your art, your thing – to make it like that of someone else’s so it will be more acceptable.

It is one thing to craft what we share so that we give other’s what they need with excellence, but it is entirely different to become someone different in order to get people to like us. Changing how I share my words so I can reach the people I most want to reach is wise, helpful, a thoughtful courtesy even. Changing my voice, my style, my personality so that I sound like someone else people like, and so get liked as well, sells myself short at best and is self-centered manipulation at worst.

I share all this because I’ve been doing all these things and I’m realizing they are the worst ways to spend my time the night before I publish this, my first blog post.

It’s also a pretty rotten way to spend your time the night before you turn 40!

I have recounted my past weak attempts to launch out, and I’m tempted to forget I’m allowed to keep practicing.

I found all the best blog posts and quit writing a dozen times for good, but not good.

I have looped the relationships that have little jagged edges to them yet. All of a sudden it seems as if every creative person on the planet is a saint with no flaws, so I am disqualified from showing up. But even this is failing logic, so I consider the alternative that I have permission to write from an unfinished life.

And I have been at least 3 different people tonight, two different women in 2 other real life women bodies not my own, and C.S. Lewis. But I’m returning to this one woman now, just me, and I’m finding there’s no place like home.

The Bristol Motor Speedway banner above reads, “Welcome Home to Bristol – You Are The Reason We Do What We Do”. I’m reminded that welcoming someone to any launch is because of the someone you welcome. Who I am here means a lot less than who I’m wanting to reach, and that is women who feel barren – in any way.

So for the feeling-barren among you:

Welcome Home to A Mother of Thousands – You Are The Reason

We Do What We Do

Let the commotion be what it is, Internets we are go for launch.

And let me know when you plan to launch something friends, I’ll do my best to cheer you on!

*Speaking of cheering friends on, it’s a pleasure to cheer my friend Emily P. Freeman on with her newest venture into podcast land! I know it will bring so many women the breath of fresh air they were wanting, but didn’t know they could get. Tune in to hear her pioneer launch welcome episode right now at www.thenextrightthingpodcast.com


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