I was recently told a story by a man named Daniel Ellis.
He told me about a boy whose grandfather had an anecdote he’d tell him as a young boy that taught him a great lesson and that he’d used it over and over again as a potent little anecdote for banishing fear of failure. It’s worth hearing because fear of failure is perhaps the biggest obstacle we encounter. Bigger than any external obstacle, are the internal ones that keep us from acting.
It went like this…
This guy’s grandfather was a fantastic musician. And one of his idols was the great violinist Jascha Heifetz. If you don’t recognize the name, this guy was like the Jimi Hendrix of classical violin.
One day, a young child prodigy came to audition for this guy, Heifetz in the hopes of studying under this grand master.
Well, the boy played and at the end of the audition — with baited breath— the potential disciple awaited the verdict…
Did he have what it took to become a concert violinist?
Heifetz looked at the young musician arrogantly and said,
“You lack the fire.”
Sullen and disappointed the boy packed his violin and left.
Years later, Heifetz ran into this individual again at some function or another. The boy had grown up, hung up his violin, and gone on to become a prosperous businessman. Recalling their previous encounter, the man said to Heifetz:
“You changed my life. I was bitterly disappointed when you told me I lacked the fire.
But I accepted your judgment.
Instead of becoming a 4th rate musician I went on to have a good life in the business world. I’ve always wondered, though. How could you tell so quickly that I lacked the fire when I auditioned for you all those years ago?
“Oh, I hardly listened to a note you played”, the old master said. “That’s what I tell everyone who auditions for me — that they lack the fire.”
The man’s jaw practically fell to the floor.
“How could you do such a thing?!” he said.
“What if I were to have become a famous violinist the next Yehudi Menuhin?”
Heifetz shook his head and said,
“You don’t understand. If you had had the fire, you wouldn’t have paid any attention to me.”
The young boy said his grandfather told him this story over and over again and, at some point, after hearing it so many times, anytime he was told, “You can’t do that.” His conditioned response became:
The hell I can’t. Watch me.
He learned to thrive off doubt. Perhaps that’s what his grandfather intended.
I remember 9 years ago when I joined a gym for the very first time in high school, I literally hadn’t had a clue about working out. I was completely out of shape and felt like it too. I failed physical fitness tests in gym class and didn’t know how to flex my bicep let alone lift weights. Seriously.
Sophomore year I had convinced my mom to buy me a bally’s membership. It cost $400 and I remember feeling nervous because it was so expensive and I didn’t even know if I could stick to it.
Well, one day a family member found out I joined the gym and he laughed…
He said, barely containing his amusement, “YOU joined a gym??”
“Uh.. Yah” I replied.
“What for? You’re not gonna stick to it! ” And he laughed on.
I am so glad I had that conversation.
Because being doubted like that, ignited in me whatever it was that I never had up until that point. Had I not heard I didn’t have what it takes, who knows, I may have quit.
But, having someone roll their eyes and laugh is probably the most powerful elixir for doing something and doing it all the way that I know of.
If you’re training here to get fit or doing the Paleo Challenge, I’m willing to bet someone is standing by waiting for you to blow it, to not see it through. I hope you prove them wrong.
All your work is going to pay off.
21 Sumo Deadlift Hi-Pull #75 #55
12 Ring Dips