Put on Your Aquaman Boxer Shorts and Start Burning Bridges

aquaman-bridges
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As some of you may already know, I started out my professional life as a musician. My big moment in the spotlight was playing bass in the Tony Award Winning Broadway Show Rent. It was pretty awesome. What you may not know about is all of the other crap that I had to endure leading up to my big “break.”

That stuff was not quite so awesome.

I taught private lessons (also known as babysitting). I played in hundreds of germ infested bars for half priced drinks (and the occasional case of Ebola). And of course every weekend I would play in a wedding band (the music industries version of legal prostitution).

With few exceptions, I never liked playing wedding band gigs. They were depressing. The musicians were depressing. They always seemed as though they were a little suicidal in their own special way. Perhaps that just comes with playing “The Girl from Ipenema” for 45 minutes straight each night.

Every weekend I would get home from a wedding band gig at about two o’clock in the morning. As I pulled into the driveway, I would swear up and down that I would never play another wedding again. But sure enough, by the time Wednesday rolled around, I would get a call from an agency looking for a bass player and I would be back.

The money was good. But that wasn’t the reason I kept saying “yes” even though it made my skin crawl. It’s because it was safe.

The Night Safe Stopped Being Safe

One night I was coming home from an exceptionally bad gig in New York. As usual, I did my nightly ritual of pulling into the driveway swearing this would be the last time. And then I heard myself say it.

“Who are you kidding? They are going to call in a few days with another gig and you are going to take it just like you always do.”

And I was right. It made me sick to my stomach to listen to myself piss and moan about it while doing absolutely nothing to change it. Again.

I was all talk and no action. All hat and no cattle. All…well, you get the point.

Only, this time was different. I had been here so many times before. So much so that continuing what I was doing was no longer safe.

So I took action…massive action.

This is What Massive Action Looks Like

At two o’clock in the morning, I pulled into a 7-11 a few miles from my house and stripped down to my boxer shorts. I tossed my tuxedo into the clothing donation box and drove home exhilarated. And almost completely naked.

(Ladies, back off…I’m married).

It wasn’t until a few days later when I received “the call” that it hit me. It was another agency looking to hire me for a few gigs for the upcoming weekend. And now I didn’t have a tux. How can I accept the gig if I don’t have a tuxedo? A rush of panic came over me as I had no choice but to tell them no.

And So Began the First Day of the Rest of My Life

Having to say “no” forced me to look at other opportunities that I wouldn’t have seen otherwise. Who knows where I would be today if I didn’t take such massive action. Perhaps I would still be playing “Boogie Oogie Oogie” right now instead of writing this. But because I removed all other possibilities, I had no choice but to make my next venture work.

And it did. Big time. All it took was stripping down to my Aquaman boxer shorts and burning all of the bridges behind me.

When is the Last Time You Wore Your Aquaman Boxers?

When you no longer have something to fall back on and no choice but to succeed, you’d be surprised at what you are capable of.

So, now it’s your turn. What is it that you are holding onto in an effort to stay safe? Or at least what you think is safe. Is it a job? A relationship? A decision you know you need to make? A certain belief about something?

What is it?

We all have something that we think is keeping us safe. But the truth is that you are just telling yourself a story to stay comfortable. But comfortable is not safe. In fact it doesn’t get much riskier than comfortable.

Today’s comfortable is tomorrow’s seed of regret. (Tweet This)

Comfortable keeps your foot firmly planted on first base. And you can’t steal second without taking your foot off of first.

You have to decide. Is your best in front of you or behind you?

If it’s in front of you (which it damn well better be) than it is time that you get comfortable being uncomfortable. Deciding is no longer enough. It is time that you take action. Massive action. Get naked and burn that bridge behind you. Give yourself no choice but to forge ahead with everything that you have.

Imagine what you would be capable of if you weren’t so comfortable. If you weren’t trying to stay safe. If you didn’t have something to fall back on. If there was no ‘Plan B’ to hold you back.

If only you could strip off the things you don’t want in your life and throw them in the donation booth and move on.

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  • http://twitter.com/jbrianswisher Brian Swisher

    Great post Marc. I like your take on ‘being comfortable with being uncomfortable’ as that is what you need to take your foot off first. Nicely done. And, I feel your pain (kinda..) as someone who plays bass in a classic rock band, I hope to God I never have to play ‘Mony, Mony’ again…. (ugh)

    • http://www.marcensign.com/blog Marc Ensign

      Thanks Brian! I would give anything to play Mony Mony. I was in a wedding band, remember? Chicken Dance anyone? How about the Macarena? Electric Slide? Ugh.

  • http://twitter.com/DustinVerburg Dustin J. Verburg

    Aquaman is underrated. No matter how much crap he gets, he is still the king of 2/3 of the planet.

    I also love playing in dead end bars for drink tickets. I crave depression, though.

    • http://www.marcensign.com/blog Marc Ensign

      I know, right?!?! Sure, superman can fly but most superheroes can fly. Been there, done that. Aquaman can talk to the fishes!!! WTF?!?!?

  • Seth Eagleton

    Hi Marc, I have read your blog for almost a year now and never commented. I just didn’t feel right about using company time. This morning I gave my 3 weeks notice, feeling a lot uncomfortable and then I read this blog this afternoon. It’s exactly what I have been thinking and now I’m going for it. So long Mr. Social Media Coordinator, hello Mr. Photographer (again). Thanks for the inspiration. I’ll be commenting more often, since it’ll be on my own time. Seth Eagleton

    • http://www.marcensign.com/blog Marc Ensign

      Hey Seth! This is one of my favorite comments of all time. Thank you so much for this one! You can’t help but feel sometimes you are shouting down an empty well, especially given how much time, thought and energy I put into these things. So when someone comes along and even insinuates that it’s made a difference or inspired them, it gives me the warm fuzzies and juices me to keep going. So, thank you so much for that!!!

      Now, the trick for you is going to be to not give up your job as “Social Media Coordinator” because you are now the social media coordinator for your new business as a photographer. Take everything you know from your previous job and apply it to your new career!!!

      Best of luck and PLEASE stay in touch! I want to hear all about it and if there is any way I can help you, don’t hesitate to ask! Ever!

  • http://www.marcensign.com/blog Marc Ensign

    Hi Seth! This is one of my favorite comments of all time. Thank you so much for this one! You can’t help but feel sometimes you are shouting down an empty well, especially given how much time, thought and energy I put into these things. So when someone comes along and even insinuates that it’s made a difference or inspired them, it gives me the warm fuzzies and juices me to keep going. So, thank you so much for that!!!

    Now, the trick for you is going to be to not give up your job as “Social Media Coordinator” because you are now the social media coordinator for your new business as a photographer. Take everything you know from your previous job and apply it to your new career!!!

    Best of luck and PLEASE stay in touch! I want to hear all about it and if there is any way I can help you, don’t hesitate to ask! Ever!

  • Simon Thompson

    Your site looks like a table set for a banquet and promises to be the most delightful feast. I don’t follow Marc Ensign I am led along to the most encouraging candle lit supper in Cyber Space. I learn with each magnificent course.

    • http://www.marcensign.com/blog Marc Ensign

      Ahhh, Simon! Once again your poetry has me humbled. Thank you my friend!!!