Perusing the books at Ollie’s (such a great bargain shopper’s paradise), I found a A Gift of Days by Stephen Alcorn. It features quoteworthy thoughts from 366 noteworthy individuals from history — and it’s illustrated with the author’s woodblock prints. The book features one quote per day from someone who was born on that day. Evel Knievel is one of them.
The words of that famous daredevil, who was born on Oct. 17 in 1938, caught my eye this morning and made me stop and think.
“I guess I thought I was Elvis Presley, but I’ll tell ya something. All Elvis did was stand on a stage and play a guitar. He never fell off on that pavement at no eighty miles per hour.”
That’s no doubt factually true. But the implication of his words? Oh, not true at all.
Think about it. The threat of screwing up a lyric, singing flat (or sharp), disappointing fans, playing the wrong chord on a guitar, even stepping over your own dancing feet – those were no less traumatic for Elvis than the possibility of physical hurt was for Evel. Oh, granted, Elvis’ was less life threatening (except, perhaps, for the feet tripping part), but the event, itself – the effect of not succeeding – was no less a psychological blow to either man.
But that’s the negative approach. Let’s turn it around to the positive.
What do all of these have in common?
- The moment of stepping out on stage and singing before an audience.
- The moment of revving a motorcycle engine before taking off on some crazy stunt.
- The moment of signing a lease on a building to house a brand new venture, or perhaps a brand new home.
- The moment of pointing your boat directly into a whitewater rapid for the first time.
- The moment of stepping onto a college campus in search for a new path.
- The moment of saying I Do, or perhaps saying I no longer do.
- The moment of saying yes to a new job opportunity across the country or in your backyard
- The moment of standing up to a bully on your or another person’s behalf.
Each of those moments is equally significant, no matter if it’s physical or psychological. Each step requires a big gulp before making it. And that – THAT’S what doesn’t come across in Evel Knievel’s statement.
Coach and author Rick Tamlyn is all about playing a Bigger Game™. “Life’s all made up,” he says, “so why not create a life that excites and inspires you?” The way to do that is to play that “bigger game,” to be part of something more meaningful, to do something you hunger for and that has a more compelling purpose for you. Part of the process includes taking that big gulp moment, recognizing it for what it is, and moving forward to play the game anyway.
Because, after all, we do have another option. We could retreat into a comfort zone rather than rise to the occasion. But darn it, there’s that compulsion, that desire, that need to do, to be, to move forward in a big way.
Now, Evel and Elvis both rose to their respective occasions. They each took big gulps and conquered the stunt world and the stage, respectively. Each influenced hundreds of thousands of people and inspired musicians and daredevils for generations.
For me? It was the stepping out on the stage and singing thing. Alone. Just me, my voice, and my shaking knees. You know what? I did it. I survived it. I did it many times after that. It was a far bigger game than singing in the shower, and it meant something not only to me but to the people I managed to move with music. I’m sure there were some.
Tamlyn says, and I heartily agree, that we all can play a bigger game, just like Elvis and Evel — and me and you. We all have that potential. So what are we waiting for? What’s our hunger? What’s our compelling purpose? And what’s our big gulp moment?
By the way, there’s a lot more to The Bigger Game. Tamlyn has created a game of life that encourages you to play it over and over again, and to make it up as you go along. Read Tamyln’s latest book, Play Your Bigger Game, which officially launched this month. Or take one of the Bigger Game workshops.
I’m thinking it’s time to start playing my next bigger game. You?