Last night I had a moment.
For several years I have been working towards this moment, one in which I went from being the guy buried under the weight of burnout to the guy offering a hand to help others out of it.
For the past 10 months I have put in hundreds of hours to refine my entire business strategy to focus on helping men defeat burnout. It's been arduous to redesign a business while simultaneously running it - and entirely worth it.
For the last few weeks I've been actively recruiting men to join me to learn a critical skill that helped me get out of my own burnout - how to have game-changing, emotionally intelligent conversations that alleviate our biggest life stresses.
Arriving at the precipice of that moment, with upwards of two dozen men potentially attending the event, I felt a mixture of calm and excitement. The time I'd been waiting for was here.
Then it happened. The moment.
Only it wasn't the moment I expected, the one where I stepped into the flow of my passion for this work, gracefully and powerfully delivering the words I wanted to convey to these men in need.
The moment arrived with a dryness in my throat. Like, a dryness that felt like I'd been walking through a desert for a week. Like I'd decided to eat sandpaper for a pre-game snack.
And it wouldn't go away.
When it first hit, I thought I'd have a sip of water and get back to my talk. Instead it was unrelenting. I could barely get words out, feeling my eyes watering a little, trying to suppress a cough, and working really hard to stay focused.
It didn't go so well.
I was so distracted by my dry throat that I lost my place a couple of times. Compounding matters, I had decided to do the session in a location I do not normally work in, so some minor changes in my workstation set-up put me even more off kilter.
And despite all of that, I knew it was ok. One of the key points I hopefully got across last night was the value of showing up.
Several years ago, at a low point in my life - on the brink of divorce and fearing how it would impact me as a Dad - a mentor of mine encouraged me to keep showing up.
As I struggled to recount that story to the assembled group last night, I explained how that message has stayed with me for years, how I practice it on a daily basis. The keys for me are to add the words "honesty" and "focus" to the showing up.
Being honest about what I was allowing in my life helped me to unwind the tangles that had me burned out.
Bringing focus to each moment helped me see what was going on around me and provided me clarity on what I wanted and needed.
While I would have preferred that last night went as I envisioned it - easy, in flow, a clear message delivering much needed relief - I'm ok with the choppiness. Because I showed up. Just like I will tonight, dry throat or not. And the next day and all the days after that.
In the end, it's not about getting it right or doing it perfectly. It's about moving forward in the direction that matters.
Jim Young is a men's burnout coach. His Courage in Conversations Challenge has been painstakingly (and dry-throatedly) designed to help men discover how having more emotionally intelligent conversations allows them to bring ease back into their relationships and reduce their biggest stresses.
When Jim isn't doing the work around men's burnout that lights him up, he's showing up for his kids, his partner, his friends, and on a stage for live improv comedy shows. In his "spare time" he is writing his first book, due to be completed in early 2022 and published later in the year.
Jim can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.