Want to break through in 2021? Run toward what scares you

In this blog, I write about how Hayley Kellett, co-owner of the Making Box comedy club in Guelph, created an environment that allowed me to have some of the most fun I’ve ever had, and break through one of my greatest fears. Check out their online improv program, accessible anywhere.

In other news, I have just released my Obedience Training For Your Brain e-book, a companion to my webinar. It will help you learn to better manage your mind and emotions on the golf course, and in other parts of life. See below for more info. …. 

I always thought there was a simple reason that I couldn’t sing in public: 

LOFT.

It’s a pretty typical belief. But through improvisational comedy—more specifically, improv classes—I realized what prevented me from singing. The experience helped me better understand why people underperform and stop themselves from doing the things they want to. 

So, what’s LOFT? My late father Dennis told me about a warm-up session with his buddies on a driving range in Myrtle Beach, S.C. At one point, the grizzled range attendant stood behind Dad’s friend Bob Sullivan, who was always trying to prevent his fade from becoming a slice. The old gent folded his arms, and pronounced: 

“I know what your problem is—LOFT.”

With a puzzled look, Bob said: “LOFT?”

The fellow shot back: “Yeah, lack of f***ing talent!”

Everyone howled laughing, including Bob. I use the LOFT bit from time to time, and it always gets a good laugh.

But LOFT also him home. I thought it explained why I couldn’t sing. 

As a kid, I wanted to sing like Paul McCartney and play guitar. My father arranged for a music aptitude test, which I failed miserably. The instructor told my father not to waste his money.

In my teens, I was so enthralled by rock music that I bought a bass, perhaps thinking that four strings were more manageable than six. Within a few years, I was playing in bands. 

But I couldn’t bring myself to sing a peep in front of anyone. I was so convinced that I was a bad singer that I wouldn’t even sign around campfires. 

Three years ago, I enrolled in improv classes at the Making Box comedy club in Guelph, mainly to improve my presenting skills. Hayley Kellett, the club’s co-owner, created a fun and supportive environment where I experienced incredible freedom, and learned a ton about performance. It was during one of her classes that I thought: ‘Run toward what scares you.’

Nevertheless, I dreaded the classes devoted to improvisational singing. When it was my turn, my throat tightened and I warbled dreadfully off-key.

The problem, quite obviously, was LOFT.

In my fourth session of classes, we were preparing for our family-and-friends showcase when Hayley asked for volunteers for Irish Drinking Song. My hand shot up. Hayley exclaimed: “OK, Tim!”

It was like an out-of-body experience. I looked up at my upraised hand, and gulped, ‘What have I done?’

On the night of the showcase, I was a nervous wreck. I catastrophized that I’d embarrass myself and ruin it for my fellow improvisers. Then, Hayley gave us the thumbs up, and announced “Irish Drinking Song!”

The four of us jumped on stage, and the next thing that I knew, my mouth was open and sounds were coming out: “Aye dee didy didy didy … “ And on it went. Our quartet took turns trading verses that we made up on the spot.

When it was over we jumped off the stage. My heart was pumping out of my chest as we high-fived each other in exultation. I played team sports all my life, but I’ve never felt that joyful. 

In the weeks that followed, it dawned on me what happened: Hayley provided a safe place for me to cross over the line of my fear of singing in public. And I didn’t die. It sounds grandiose, but I believe it was a transformational experience.

Since my Making Box moment, I can sing more freely. It’s as if my body now allows me to sing. I play bass in Guelph punk band CID, and I love singing backup.  

I say I sing more freely because I’m continuing to work on feeling more relaxed when I sing and speak. I’m taking singing lessons, and learning more about the skill of singing.

Through improv, I learned that my problem with singing wasn’t due to a lack of talent, as I no doubt deduced from the aptitude test and other evidence. I also got it in my head—and in my body—that singing was somehow dangerous. 

It was another experience that confirmed to me that it’s our mindsets, belief systems and perceptions of ourselves that cause us to get in our own way, and to avoid those things that we’d love to do. 

In 2021, I invite you to run toward what scares you. Stop putting off, resisting or talking yourself out of the life that you’ve always wanted to lead.

Tired of underperforming?
Your problem isn’t a lack of talent
It’s your untrained mind

To learn how to silence your inner critic, press pause on your thoughts, and keep your emotions from running away from you, check out my new e-book Obedience Training For Your Brain: How to stop your mind from yanking you all over the place, from biting the kids and gobbling down your food. It’s only $5.

Click here to learn to train your mind to play better golf, and have more fun—in life too! 

You can also download my free e-book Getting Unstuck: Commit to Freedom by visiting www.oconnorgolf.ca.

Contact me about delivering my Obedience Training For Your Brain webinar to your group.  

“With his warm and engaging approach, Tim taught the participants how to achieve our unique desired outcomes, including inner peace and optimal performance.” 

Melanie Van Der Hoop
Executive Director, PGA of Ontario               

Tim O’Connor’s webinar provided me with a number of great ideas that I could instantly put into action with the athletes I coach.”

Mike Martz, PGA of Canada
Head Coach, University of Waterloo men’s golf               
 

About Tim O'Connor

Tim O'Connor is a golf and mental performance coach, an award-winning writer, and Head Coach of the University of Guelph golf team. He is the recipient of the 2020 Lorne Rubenstein Media Award, given by Golf Ontario. He is author of The Feeling of Greatness: The Moe Norman Story, and co-host of the Swing Thoughts podcast with Howard Glassman. And he plays bass in CID—a punk band!

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