Don’t Let Discomfort Stop You
A giant blackened “M” slowly lights up the backdrop of the stage at the Bell Centre. The crowd, 33,000 strong, pound their feet in unison chanting “Mode, Mode, Mode!”, transforming the stadium into a Colosseum! There are three figures outlined behind drums, synthesizer, etc., but one faceless, shadowy figure stands in front of the “M” center stage. FLASH! A blinding light that feels like a thousand suns illuminates the figure.
David Gahan runs out, twirling his mic stand like a playful demon, shouting at the crowd words that are barely understandable. It doesn’t matter. He connects instantly with each and every man, woman, and child in the place as if he were their very own personal Jesus!
I’m not gonna lie to you. I’m not a huge Depeche Mode fan (I definitely wasn’t gonna say that there 😉). Their music is good, but the culture: black trench coat fashion and minor chord “everything is just disappointing” overtones is something I could take or leave. What I can’t take or leave was David Gahan’s performance.
I watched this 5 foot 10 inch bean pole of a man single-handedly mystify and energize the crowd with his incredible vocal and physical performance, jumping, kicking, and simply prancing around the stage like he’s 30. Oh! By the way, he’s 61 years old. I know people who are 61 years old. They’re not doing cartwheels. There’s no spiking a mic pole up into the clouds, daring the gods to strike them down, while tyrannically screaming at a crowd of 33,000! I’m 52, and I’m tuckered out by 9pm after watching a sitcom.
It’s 10pm at the concert, and I’m feeling guilty yawning, while this guy is jacking the crowd up with a roar, and there’s at least an hour still to go! I’m feeling guilty for being tired, or, more accurately, for showing it. I feel a sense of allegiance to this man–to anyone willing to give everything they have. I down right owe it to David to stay. How is that even possible? I don’t even like New Wave!
So here’s why I’m so impressed, or, should I say, here’s more reason for it: I’ve seen this guy before. That’s right. I’m almost ashamed to say it, but I have seen Depeche Mode in concert one other time.
It was 20 years ago.
20 years and this man is bringing the same stage presence, lighting fire to this crowd, with the same energy, moves, and passion. Did I mention he’s 61 years old? Oh! That’s right, I did.
I’m not saying he doesn’t love what he’s doing, of course he does. That’s a huge advantage when you’re being asked to show up for 20 years of doing something. The songs you’ve helped make into solid gold hits. But it’s not like every night, before he goes on, he’s perfectly emotionally centered, sitting on a bed of cushiony down pillows, levitating, meditating, and feeling nothing but bliss in his life. Absolutely not.
I remember reading and hearing about all of David Gahan’s and Depeche Mode’s trials and tribulations. David’s cocaine and heroin overdose in ‘96 that left him technically dead for two minutes… that was on stage by the way. The many difficulties, arguments, and fighting within the band. The loss of band members over the years, not to mention the many problems we will never know about. And it’s not like every venue the fans feed him his energy back. It’s not required nor is it their job. He’s the performer. There to give them the best performance, HIS best performance, whether the crowd loves it, hates it, or even worse…they’re just apathetic.
So here’s the other weird thing I’m sure I haven’t told you yet…the man is 61 years old. If that doesn’t translate for you, let me help. On a physical level he may have to pee more than once, twice, a dozen or more times while performing. His bones and tendons are aching from the concert that he did the night before, and the one three weeks before that!
This resonates in all of our lives. There’s many things that we love, that we’re passionate about, that we want. Really WANT! That we are willing to physically, mentally, and emotionally bleed for. But the truth is this: to be successful at whatever is important to us, the bleeding is not going to be a one-time thing, and we’re not always going to feel like doing it. In fact, much of the time we’re going to feel downright depressed. Disappointed in our crowd. Fatigued from all the effort. Hurt physically, mentally, emotionally, or angry and frustrated from the lack of results. Or we may be just bone-tired from putting out the mere mind numbing will it takes to do something over and over and over again in order to get good at it.
This is when the modern gurus are going to tell you about how you just have to get through it. Grind it out. Pain is temporary. But 21 years of showing up and being your absolute best? Yeah, that advice just doesn’t cut it.
Here are some suggestions on how to stay the course, your course, on the thing(s) that you hold sacred; how to deal with mental and emotional adversity when it arises for you, so that you can keep the mental and emotional traction in the things that matter in your life, and ‘show up’ again, and again, and again…
It’s not a battle, it’s a war – I’m not huge on the violent metaphors, not really, but it’s a good one for this. When you take into account having to be repetitive and bringing your A game over and over again to the things that you love, you are not always going to win every battle. I’m sure David Gahan has had to take sick days. I know for a fact that he lost his voice a few concerts before I saw him. He rested up and went on two nights later. Don’t look for perfection, instead, look for consistent progress. Remember that scoring high 90s for a week only to flunk the class because you burn out, doesn’t come close to bringing a B+ here and there and staying passing the course.
What’s your best today? – We are energetic creatures. What does this mean? Our best is fluid. But we can give one minute, one hour, or one day may not be the same as what we have in the tank for the next. This doesn’t mean that we lounge around eating bonbons and just not trying. What it does mean is reserving judgment when your results today weren’t as good as they were yesterday. All you have to do is continue to show up and put in the best effort you have in the moment.
It’s not for them – You can’t ask or expect others to give you the energy (motivation) you need to pursue the things that you’re passionate about, nor can you rely on it. You need to be able to rely on YOU. The reserve or the place where you pull your energy from must first and foremost come from you.
Find inspiration wherever you can – If you have followed my blogs and vlogs for any length of time you know that I regularly find inspiration from movies, Ted Talks, and a whole host of other places–even from the cross country kids I have coached. When we look for it, we can find inspiration all around us. Even at a Depeche Mode concert. Pay attention and use these sparks of inspiration to fuel your internal reserves. You never know, you may just be someone else’s inspiration just by continuing to show up and do the thing that you are passionate about!
If you would like to learn tools and skills to help you improve your emotional aptitude, reduce your emotional isolation, lessen your avoidance of shame, fear, and anxiety, and enable yourself to reach your goals, break old habits, or create new ones, I can help. I provide emotional resilience coaching, so you can achieve your goals. We can meet either virtually or in person at my office in Waterbury, Vermont. Just click the button or the link below for a free consultation and let’s talk.
Click to Select a Date & Time for your free consultation.