by Darrin Schenck

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by Darrin Schenck

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People ask me where my sense of self confidence comes from on occasion.  We all live different lives, comes from different backgrounds, etc. so sometimes it is tough to imagine why someone sees the world or themselves so differently than others.  I can tell you in one quick sentence:  I have the receipts.

What do I mean by that statement?  Well, allow me to share a bunch of my background first, and see if you can piece together the pattern.  I grew up on small farm in rural PA, a skinny kid that was allergic to everything and scare of the world.  I lived an isolated life in many ways with the exception of when I would come to Phoenix to visit my grandparents while they would spend the winters there.  Getting on a plane and flying across the country to spend two weeks in AZ in February became an annual event for a couple of years, and I loved it.  It was quite the adventure, and my ten year old mind struggled to grasp everything that went into making this happen.  But after that trip, I would settle back in to small town farm life, and forget that the rest of the world existed.  I liked it that way, I knew what to expect in the sphere of my life for the most part.  But there was more to life than the 50 acres I was residing on, and luckily for me my family decided to move to Phoenix and drastically change the course of our lives.

I did not want to move to Phoenix, I was scared out of my mind.  I went from attending a school with 200 kids total (K thru 12) and into a middle school with 300 kids in my 7th grade class.  I didn’t know a soul in Phoenix over than my immediate family.  I was so intimidated the first two weeks of school that I felt like I was just trying to hide and survive.  I felt like I was the only one living like this.  But eventually that started to change; the summer of my next year my Dad took my to the high school across the street from my house that I would end up attending and introduced me to the wrestling coach.  I started to practice with the team over the summer, and slowly found a group that I fit into.  By the time I got to high school, I had a tribe of my own to join, and I was already a made member.  This took a left turn early in my freshman year however, as I sustained a neck injury competing for a spot on the varsity team.  I broke a bone in my neck that ended my wrestling career; I walked around in a neck collar for about six weeks and was always afraid to go back to the team for fear of getting injured worse.  So much for fitting in…

Eventually I found my way into the sport of racquetball and joined a new group of people outside of high school to spend my time with.  I learned from the older guys many things about life, some good and some bad as well.  I started to see the correlation between choices and consequences, those who were talented and those who worked hard.  I started to apply the dedication I had learned in wrestling to my new endeavor, and before long I was excelling at this sport. I played tournament after tournament and slowly climbed the ranks of the sport in AZ.  I spent most of my free time practicing and playing in effort to get better.  I joined a health club with racquetball courts and soon was learning to compete in the real facet of the game, and then never looked back.

Through the sport of racquetball, I learned a lot of things about myself and the world.  I learned that the harder I worked, the luckier I got.  Opportunities to train with a better player, or go to a tournament seemed to find their way to me versus others.  I learned that the best players were not usually the most talented, but those who were willing to put in the work.  Talent only carried you so far in sport and in life, those who continued to move forward were the ones who worked as hard or harder than their competitors.  Playing so many tournaments throughout my career has taught me things like how to scout my competition, how to prepare myself for battle, how to compete under pressure and more.  These “receipts” served me well in other areas.  I learned to break free of my scared mentality, and be willing to put myself in uncomfortable positions and work through them.  I learned to be flexible in my approach to things; sometimes charging forward and other times being patient and waiting for the right time.  There are times when you need to allow someone to defeat themselves versus having to beat them directly.  Most people cannot hide their flaws forever, things like lack of self belief, lack of preparation and more.  Sometimes just hanging around long enough against an opponent meant that victory was attainable in the end.  In some cases, you have to weather the initial onslaught and fight like Hell until the end.

After my own competitive career, I went on to coach the ASU Racquetball team, and do my best to impart some of these skills to the team members.   I learned very early on that I was in fact teaching life lessons disguised as racquetball, just as I had done for myself.  I took this approach to help as many of the kids to learn about themselves and collect the receipts for later.  As it turns out, the ability to perform under pressure on the court directly transfers to things like taking tests, doing interviews and other moments of escalated tension.  Kids who never thought they could compete well learned to maximize their own talent and throw their hat into the ring.  It was an invaluable set of skills to acquire before leaving college, and I was happy to be a part of their learning curve.  Despite having no real experience coaching a team of players, my track record as a coach speaks for itself, as I had a lot of success in this endeavor as well.  More receipts…

I survived a head-on collision with a wrong way drunk driver on the freeway here in AZ.  I walked away from the crash physically unharmed, I had a lot of emotional turmoil afterwards.  To help deal with this, I started volunteering as a Victim Impact Panel speaker for MADD.  This has led me to pursue public speaking in general, and I working towards becoming paid Keynote Speaker.  It is a difficult pursuit; I love to write and create the talks, and getting up in front of an audience does not scare me, but it is an interesting challenge.  Considering most people do not ever want to speak in front of others, it is fun to see how many people cringe when I say that I love public speaking.  It is a challenge that is ever-evolving and I could see that the novelty of this will take a really long time to ever diminish.  More receipts…

After my competitive career, I had to find a job and went through a couple of different career fields that spanned medical sales, corporate interiors, employee relocation, and eventually I landed where I have been for the last ten years, at TriageNow.  In each of these fields, I knew little to nothing in advance of getting hired there.  I relied on my background of hard work and rising to the top in another endeavor as the springboard for the new one.  It worked; I was able to rise to the top in most of the fields I have entered if I stayed long enough.  I have written and self-published five books, two of which one awards in their respective genre.  Recently I released my own phone app of Life Resources to help the college and high school kids I speak to.

I didn’t tell you this to brag, I am telling you this to get you to understand that life affords you a lot of opportunities to expand your thinking, challenge yourself, and try lots of new things.  Through practice and repeated exposure, I have learned to manage being in uncomfortable situations and trust myself to figure things out on the fly.  I have proven to myself that I can be trusted, that I can figure out things that I had no prior knowledge of.  YOU CAN DO THE SAME.  It isn’t easy, but it is possible, and I am proof of that.  I am not extraordinary, but I have been able to do some extraordinary things because of this belief in myself.  I have the receipts from past experiences to look back on and say to myself: Yes, I can figure this outI can handle adversity or a challenge, and if I can stick around long enough, I can figure things out.  

So, here is the pattern:  Throw yourself into new things and take your beatings until you figure it out.  Grab your helmet and get on the field, sitting on the sidelines will not teach you much of anything, you have to get out there and take some hits.  If you start collecting receipts, that is the proof that you have been there and done that, you will have unshakeable belief in yourself as well.  It takes a while, and you may need to “fake it to make it” a little in the beginning, but you can get there too.  And the more proof you have, the more you will walk with a quiet confidence that others respect and admire.

I wish you luck in your endeavors.

 

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