Yesterday at the Quest virtual conference, I showed up for one of my sessions in a Richard Simmons costume – big wig, short jogging shorts, and a lime green tank top with fake chest hair coming out every which way but loose. @SQLSamson captured the moment live:
Viewers at home were treated to a high definition video feed of my pasty-white skin, and fun was had by all. I haven’t read the chat logs yet, but I did get one email that stood out to me:
Very funny, and it takes a very secure person to do something like that.
That made me sit bolt upright, because it reminds me of something I’ve wanted to communicate here on the blog for quite a while, and it reminded me of a prominent theme in Richard Simmons’ videos. In his interview with Ellen Degeneres, she asked, “Everyone has aspirations to get in better shape – what advice do you have for people?”
Richard answered, “Number one, love yourself, have a lot of self-worth.”
This advice doesn’t just hold true for getting into better shape – it’s for public speaking, taking control of your career, and having better relationships.
Loving yourself and having a lot of self-worth doesn’t mean a big ego. I’ll be the first to tell you that I’m not an attractive fella when I’m wearing a tank top and short shorts, but that doesn’t mean I’m ashamed of who I am. Today, right now, this is as good as I’ll ever look, and that’s a mixed bag. When I look back in my mental rearview mirror and think back about my body at age 16, it’s so tempting to say, “Wow, I wish I still looked like that.” But the reality is that at age 16, I was drinking Enfamil trying to bulk up because I was too skinny. I was horrified at my rail frame, and I wanted to be like the guys who played sports.
Right now, I could examine myself and say, “Wow, I wish I looked like that guy on the cover of ESPN Magazine,” but that’s the wrong comparison. Instead, I think about what I’m going to look like fifteen or twenty years from now. In that future, I’ll be looking back at my 36-year-old body and saying, “Wow, I didn’t realize how good I had it when I could walk up a flight of stairs without my knees hurting.” Right now, you have it better than you’re ever going to have it for the rest of your life. From right now forward, you’re never going to think faster or look better than today. Put the gun down – I’m not encouraging suicide – but stop comparing yourself to somebody else’s body or brain, and start comparing yourself to your future.
If you’re not getting up in front of user groups because you don’t look like George Clooney or because you don’t think as fast as Buck Woody, get over it. Your clock is ticking, and it won’t tick forever. Take me – my family tree is riddled with heart disease and cancer. I write this blog knowing full well my web site will live on longer than I will, and sooner or later, somebody’s going to read these words when I’ve passed away. If I waited to do Richard Simmons stunts until I looked good in a lime green tank top with fake chest hair, you wouldn’t ever see me do stunts period.
As you age, you won’t have regrets about the things you can’t control.
You will regret the things you could have controlled, but didn’t.
Get out. Meet people. Share what you know. Help others conquer obstacles. Make a difference. The people who really matter don’t care what you look like – they care that you care, and that’s something you can control.