Many many moons ago, I faced a challenge that shaped many things in my life. Sure, it didn’t look revolutionary back then, but today, it’s one of those stories that is fueling my second chapter at success.
As a child, my parents hated that they couldn’t get me to back down from social challenges. I was not a rebel. I was not a bad kid. I was a nerd. I needed the evidence to speak to me.
If my dad told me I couldn’t take a certain photo, or if my mom told me that it was not right to ask certain questions of grown folks, I figure I should test that out and see it was indeed true.
That approach to life has helped me learn many things and experience many wonderful joys in life. That also got me into a lot of hot water, meaning, embarrassing social situations.
One comes to mine, and now my dad loves this story about how strong a son he has. From my recollection of things, that was a very difficult chapter for me. Nothing traumatic, just, an aha moment that is now starting to show itself relevant again today.
The word. Tenacity.
I love creatively messing with sound. I always fiddle with sound gear to find the right blend that is easy on my ears. Sure, that trait applies to many of my creative pursuits as well.
I must have been no more than 10 at the time. The sound engineer of the local church I attended was doing his usual. I won’t get into specifics, don’t want to paint him in a bad light. The man was doing what he knew was best. I didn’t agree with his mix. I felt I could do better.
As all confident kids do, I went to his system and remixed his sound….without permission. To my delight, the audience responded very positively. I could feel the stare of my mom down my back as she was mortified at my inappropriate behavior and that i managed to sneak away from her very vigilant eye. She knew that this man was not one who cared for kids touching his expensive equipment. And furthermore, mom was really good at keeping an eye on her kids. Needless to say, my adventures to the sound system didn’t go unpunished.
As you can imagine, he was not happy. His reprimand was not bad, but it was tough. I should have learned. I didn’t. Most kids of the time only needed on serious reprimand from him and they never came back.
After he’d fix the sound back to what he had, he would go back to whatever he was doing and would try to slip back in and fixed it again. This became a bit of a pattern. I would wait until you get that annoying feedback that drives people nuts, i would race over to the system and fix it before he would arrive. By the way, the distractions of the sound system going haywire is how I managed to sneak away from mom. He would change it back, the noise would return eventually, and the cycle continued.
One day, he confronted me in full anger. He was highly justified. I was a kid. He owned the gear. The church was benefiting from his generosity. His setup was geared for a small venue, the church was a large venue and needed a different setup, so I thought.
By now, my dad was also involved in trying to get me to understand the need to respect the gear this man had. In all truth, I was totally wrong. It was not the church’s gear. It was not mine. I was way out of line. I’m not advocating it is as right at all.
Skipping a lot of details, I kept at it. The final straw was the day he was performing and his gear started to give that very loud ear-splitting feedback sound. I rushed up, per my usual, and fixed the problem. He erupted in anger and told me about myself right then and there.. Thankfully, being the professional he was, the tongue lashing was quick, swift, and to the point. Then he resumed his performance.
The evidence was in however. I had solved the problem. He was able to finish his performance. The church later wold rally in my support and ask him to be more gentle with his approach to me, as I was showing clear signs that I knew what I was doing.
The lesson I took is this; when you know you’re qualified, don’t let age or status stop you from doing what you know is right. However, be mindful of how, where , and what tools you use to get the solutions you’re after. This lesson has followed me in a many areas of life. I have had many successes and failures because of this attitude.
Years later, in adulthood, I met him and had a wonderful chat with him. He remembers this exchange very well. It was a rather interesting chat as we reviewed that particular even of my childhood…with many laughs of course. He told me that he greatly respected my tenacity and hoped that I had matured and learned to use it wisely.
As much as I boasted that I did, I also realized that somewhere along the way, the constant push against the tide got old and tiresome. I stopped pushing as hard as I used to. Now, I miss that skill. It’s not gone entirely, but I don’t use it as much. I’m more risk averse.
Maybe it’s getting older. I don’ know. What I do know, I want it back. I’m getting it back. It has served me well. It will serve me even better now that I’m a bit wiser.
You need tenacity and wisdom to chase your dreams. Unlike when I was ten, I have some wisdom to go with my tenacity. The payoff should be much greater.
Do chase your dreams with tenacity. Learn. Pivot. Go. Grow. Push.
While dream catching is possible, sitting in your comfort zone and repeating the same tactics over and over, will not get you there. You have to put in the work and let the chips of luck fall in your favor. Without tenacity, staying the course will not be any easier than hard.
Go and get life. Go and get yours. Just be smart and wise about it so you’re not stepping needlessly on toes in the process.
Today, I don’t have a career in mixing sounds. I do have a lot of wonderful stories of my journey to learning how sound engineering works. I have had many great experiences that I wouldn’t otherwise have had, thanks to the skills I honed over time.
Getting out of my comfort zone to apply this mindset is how this blog came to be and is going to grow. Same method for my photography. Same for my many other skills. I kept at it until it became something.
That is how humans have become who they are. We learn by keeping at it. We walk, talk, work, network, thrive, and teach by keeping at a skill until we have it down. Keep growing your skill database. That’s the only way to advance in life in the direction you want to go.