Shoot Your Shot

Shoot Your Shot

All in.  That’s the way you should roll.  Not trying.  Not almost.  Not maybe or someday.  All in.  Period.  If you don’t shoot your shot, you definitely will miss.  Someone said a quote similar to this, but I can’t remember who.  The point is that if you don’t get up off the couch and put yourself in an uncomfortable situation-the cold, the tired, the dark, the wet, the hungry, the sad, the unknown-you will never know what it’s truly like to feel warm, rested, enlightened, dry, satiated, happy, and comfortable.  We learn nothing when we do nothing and don’t take any risks and make any mistakes.  It’s where the mistakes are made-when we feel discomfort-where learning takes place.  The uncomfortable zone is where growth takes place.  Where resilience takes place. 

we learn nothing when we do nothing

Happiness is the sum of our biological set point plus our conditions plus the voluntary actions that we do.  Voluntary actions are the things that we do without being forced to do them.  When we perform any kind of action, we learn something.  If you repeat the action in the form of practice, then our brains start wrapping myeline and we become better and better the more we practice.  This applies to any kind of action.  It makes sense that any action makes us happier and more satisfied.  And if you make a mistake or even fail, who cares.  When we fail, we should take it as an opportunity to find out what we did wrong and learn from the mistake.  Don’t look at a mistake as a direct attack on your ego.  If you have successfully killed your ego (this should be the ultimate  goal) then the mistake or failure will not sting as much.  You will objectively look at the failure as a learning experience, figuring out what needs to be done next time in order to do better and not fail again. But the biggest mistake that you can do is not acting at all.  Not acting at all is even worse than failing.  At least if you act and fail you can rest assured that you gave a shot at whatever it is that you wanted to try.  You shot your shot and missed.  No big deal.  Learn from it with and After Action Review and move on.  Don’t worry because this happens to everyone that acts.  

Surf 101  

A couple of weeks ago, a couple of friends of mine, my daughter and I all went surfing.  The swell was not that big, perhaps 2-3 feet which for Panama City is a good day.  The waves were a bit blown out by the wind but we managed to surf for a couple of hours and I was in heaven.  Hooting and riding waves with my friends and family is what I love to do more than anything.   After riding the waves for a couple of hours, I was going back out through the surf on a Stand Up Paddle Surf Board.  As a wave approached me head on, I made the fatal mistake of trying to jump over it.  The standard operating procedure for any wave coming at you is to duck underneath, but I was having too much fun to do that and I wanted to try something new.  The wave caught me full force in the chest, stretched me to the point of shoulder dislocation, and my board spun underwater and hit me full force broadside on my thigh.  After fixing my shoulder and assessing my thigh damage underwater, I returned to my board to surf a few more waves.  At that point, the pain in my leg finally caught up with me and I called it a day.  Surfing can be exhilarating and deadly in the same breath.  Shooting your shot during surfing means getting right back into the mix even after a bad wipeout or stupid decision to jump over a wave.  Learning from your mistakes is what it’s all about, and I have been learning from my mistake by not having full function of both my leg and my shoulder for about 2 weeks now.  The further respect that I learned from the ocean that day will serve me well into my future days and may even help others who are new to the sport to respect the ocean even more than they do.  I definitely shot my shot that day; I have surfed on much bigger days with less consequences.  NEVER underestimate the power of even the smallest wave and never deviate from standard safety practices.  Even seasoned surfers like me can still learn.

Shooting Your Shot and Learning

Shooting your shot involves a life-long learning approach, even if you are going to take hits along the way.  Don’t be scared of the hits; that is an integral part of learning.  In fact, if you don’t get hit every so often, perhaps you are not pushing the learning envelope enough?  People that never fall in when they learn how to Stand Up Paddle are not pushing themselves to the edge of their limits.  They “play it safe” and don’t reach their full potential.  People that never make mistakes don’t try hard enough.  They play it safe and fear failing so they stay in a bubble of complacency and safety.  Shooting your shot involves making mistake AND learning.  Develop a lifestyle of learning and humility so that you always crave to improve yourself and don’t fear mistakes or failure.  My daughter did this last semester when she challenged herself with AP classes that were well out of her comfort zone.  In fact, the school was resistant about letting her in.  It was a difficult semester, but she managed to letter in academics.  Even though she did not get a perfect score, she did earn a letter (3.0 and above) and proved that the struggle, and falling in every once in a while, builds character and forces us to learn things we would not learn if we sailed through things easily.                               

Being Comfortable in Uncomfortable Situations

If you get used to shooting your shot and not worrying about failure, something fascinating eventually happens to you.  You end up not being afraid of doing anything.  ANYTHING. It’s a wonderful feeling to know that whatever comes your way, you will not be afraid to handle it.  Being comfortable in uncomfortable situations ends up being the result of years of shooting your shot and not worrying about failure.  Taking failure in stride and not personally builds your confidence level to handle any situation.  In fact, you find yourself craving uncomfortable and unknown situations just to practice ways of adapting to them and feeling the return to the comfort level, or what scientists call homeostasis.  Homeostasis is the condition where everything is in balance.  However, when you are comfortable in uncomfortable situations, your mind is always in balance, even in the midst of chaos.  Just like with anything else in life, training for these types of situations builds your abilities and feeds back into the loop of shooting your shot-making mistakes- adjusting and learning-shooting your shot-success-shooting your shot-etc…You learn that discomfort is just another building block to your own success, and not something to be avoided.


This week, seek out the unknown and challenge yourself to shoot your shot.  Go in with full commitment, not half way.  If you say you are doing to do something, then shoot your shot and do it.  Talk is cheap unless it is backed up with the collateral of action.  Try to do something new everyday.  Do something implies an action, so this cannot be a passive activity like reading.  I am not saying that reading is bad, but for the purposes of shooting your shot, you should get up off the couch and dance, for example.  See how you feel at the end of the week and remember that you miss every shot that you don’t take.

Dr. N aka CDR Chaos