This morning, I walked into a cafe called the Franklin Mercantile in downtown Franklin, TN, and there, at a table off to the side, was a face I recognized. It was a man by the name of Michael Hyatt: public speaker, author, blogger extraordinaire, and most of all, a frequent voice in my ears as I constantly listen to his podcast. (And you should too! Try this one on for size. Trust me!)
So here I am in the Mercantile, faced with a blogger of all things, and I’m completely starstruck. I had to at least say hi, right? I mean, I listen to his podcasts daily, so we’re basically best friends. It’s simple science, people. I mustered up a little gumption and strolled over. I hated to interrupt, but…
“I hate to interrupt, but, you’re Michael, right?”
“Yes, I am,” he smiled and warmly offered a handshake–what a fantastic human. “And what’s your name?”
“I’m Brian.” I shook his hand and looked him in the eye in as confident and peer-like a manner as I could feign, in my mind thinking “Please, dear god, just like me!” I introduced myself to Mr. Hyatt’s companion and asked how they knew each other. He said he worked down the road for Dave Ramsey (surely you’re familiar with him right?? If not, I’d rectify that as well…)
I couldn’t control my pathetic nerves. I started to slide down that slippery slope.
“Oh, I used to deliver pizza to Dave Ramsey.” Dammit. No. Bad Brian. But don’t worry, I wasn’t done completely wetting the bed. I had to really bring it home. So, to follow that up, I shrugged and threw my hands out in front of me palms up like a mobster would, and said, “It’s all connected, isn’t it!”
You. Absolute. LOSER.
They chuckled, I think, and said something genuinely nice which I then interpreted as, “You poor sap. You’ll never belong at a lunch table with us.” Then I said I’d let them alone but that I had just wanted to tell Mr. Hyatt thanks for what he does.
So there it was. I had found a chink in my armor of self-assuredness.
I kicked myself for a few minutes for saying something stupid to someone so, well, the opposite of stupid, but then I began to dissect my reaction a bit. I wasn’t okay with feeling like that.
Why were these two guys so important that I had to try and play it cool, that I couldn’t be myself? Instead I had to put up a front, say something asinine, stammer through an even weaker follow up and walk away kicking myself.
It’s simple. Here’s what I came up with:
1. Misplaced value: How had I come up with Michael’s value versus my own? Facebook followers? Bank account balances? The success of his blog? These are all arbitrary and deceptive measurements. My value as a person is intrinsic, as is Michael Hyatt’s. There is no number in either of our lives that can represent that value.
2. Misunderstanding want versus need: It’s appropriate to want people to like you, to want to mesh with the society around you. That is a healthy desire. But ultimately you cannot need it. At that point, your self-worth hinges upon the uncontrollable actions and emotions of others. Michael Hyatt may never like me ever again (for the record, I don’t actually think he feels that way), and I’m still gonna believe I’m awesome.
3. Pedestal Placement: I had these guys on a pedestal in my mind, when ultimately, I should have viewed them as peers. Not because we are equal in every way, or because I know as much as Michael–I don’t–but going back to the idea of intrinsic value, we are all just men seeking to grow, making mistakes, loving our families, and so on. We are peers before God. If I keep that fundamentally level playing field in mind, suddenly I can look these men in the eye with self-assuredness and confidence, appreciating them without feeling inferior.
Well, I finally stopped mentally kicking myself and tried to remind myself of these things. I asked ‘Her‘, “Why do I care so much? Am I in eighth grade again? No. I’m a solid man. I’m good the way I am. I’m not gonna care any more.” And I was mostly successful at convincing myself of this. Then I sipped more coffee and looked at my wife who is smokin’ hot, and watched my totally badass son and allowed myself to bask in those things, telling myself that whatever guy could convince that gorgeous woman to marry him, and then somehow produce that cool of a kid, must have something going for him, right?