People who meet me and know me from a speaking or coaching setting often have a difficult time understanding how I could have issues with confidence in the other aspects of my life.
When I am on stage or one on one with a client, I find myself free from self-judgement and at the top of my confidence.
When I am facing social situations that have no set structure or I am faced with an issue that only has one correct and ultra-specific solution, I freeze up.
My confidence in working with my hands has been growing over the past three months as I have taken on projects, each a baby step in difficulty above the last. I have painted a mailbox, installed a toilet flange, painted a bedroom, and installed a screen door handle. None of these sound like particularly difficult things, but each of them required me to face them, push through anxiety, and find a level of focus where I could reach the end goal.
Now I am working on a lawnmower for someone I met a few weeks back. He was the impetus behind the blog post Lower the Ladder and Only Lift Up. I got a free lawnmower from someone who had it in storage for years but accidentally left fuel in the tank that turned to varnishy goo.
So far I have:
- Replaced the air filter
- Changed the oil
- Added fuel cleaner
- Changed the spark plug
- Replaced two gaskets
- Cleaned out the carburetor
- Replaced the fuel hose
- Replaced the needle inside the carburetor
- Beaten my head against a wall because it still doesn’t run
I am so far outside my normal element it is ridiculous. With each step along the way I have tried to give up, and then failed at giving up. Something deep down inside me insists that I need to keep going and make this (*&%^&$ lawnmower live again.
Today I wrote a Facebook post admitting defeat and asking for others to consider giving money toward getting my new friend back to work with a functioning lawnmower. After writing the post and tagging friends, I deleted it while simultaneously reproaching myself for not giving up. “How long are you going to do this”, my mind screams? “Until it is finished”, another part of me replies. “But there are people who do this sort of thing. You could just pay them!”
And yet I continue, step by step, inch by inch, hoping the next small tweak will make it all worthwhile.
During this process, I realized that I felt a level of competence in being able to take a carburetor apart and get it back together again. It dawned on me that it was enjoyable to find the right size hose to replace the one that had dry rotted.
Each turn of the wrench, I am gaining confidence, even though the end result is not a fully implemented solution. The frustration of not getting it working is somehow balanced with the confidence of now understanding what I am doing, knowing the inner workings of a lawn mower, and interacting with the parts in a way that feels less and less alien.
I will leave you with this…
Today I met a man for a lawnmower part named J.C. who sits on his porch all day and repairs things with small engines. His arms are covered with tattoos, his skin tan, his hair long, and his muscles like rope. He told me to drop by if I needed anything else. “I never go anywhere unless it is to the store” he said with a smile “I’m always right here.”