40 Years Ago…

1982

Forty years ago, a lot was different. As drastically as things have changed in four decades — especially in the last three years — some things remain consistent:

  • lack of productivity where it’s needed most…politics;

A constant within each of us as individuals is our Behavioral RNA™️. All of our Behavioral RNA™️ is formed by age six. It is, therefore, incumbent on parents in all circumstances to make the effort to emphasize the environment of their child in whatever ways they are capable. It is the foundation that they will carry for the rest of their life. Different individuals have different means. Children’s optimal environment is not about cost or luxury but, rather, what can be done relative to one’s circumstances. In other words, as long as a parent does their absolute best to provide the best possible environment, they must consider themselves a success. There is only so much one can control, even when it comes to a child. Providing a safe and enriching environment is close to the maximum of what a parent can do. What is going to happen will happen, but making the effort will make the difference that could be a determining factor in the child’s longevity as well as the quality of that longevity in their life.

These decisions start before one is thinking of conceiving, not when one is already expecting. Forget money, power, acclaim, and respect from your peers — for all on this list to be in order, your order of operations must prioritize who you decide your life partner will be. In the business of life, that is the most important business decision one will ever make. It inextricably influences how you decide and are able to raise a child (if you choose to do so). In certain very special and unique circumstances, it may also be the case that you are your own best life partner. It is an unimpeachable fact that not all of us are meant to have life partners. While we all have soulmates in the physical world, we don’t necessarily require that soulmate to thrive.

In all regards, I hold these truths of my life to be self-evident.

Regardless of the state of technology in the past and how that may have been limiting versus the present and the limitless nature of where we are going as a society, Behavioral RNA™️ will remain a constant. Behavioral RNA™️ will persist throughout the history of the planet both in humans and in animals. The technology of the day only serves to amplify one’s Behavioral RNA™️ and give it new outlets of expression.

I define this information because it is important to me. That is not because I deem myself important, but, rather, my self-belief. My self-belief has been steady through decades of self-examination, challenge, loss, perseverance, and, most of all, becoming competent at the things I deeply dislike. For example, being consistent.

Being consistent is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. While it will continue to be this way internally for me, I’ve learned that it’s worth the hourly struggle. Since childhood, I’ve always gained much more from doing the things I deeply dislike doing than from the things that I like to do. I distinctly remember a music studio that my dad created for me. It had all my drums and other instruments including bass, a guitar, a piano, and pieces of my dad’s percussion kit that I wanted to use to create my own. I began playing professionally at 3–4 years old. The scale and scope of my opportunities at that age were admittedly abnormal. I was getting on stage at stadium performances with thousands of people in the audience and executing complex drum parts. I was so young that I couldn’t see over the drum kit. I share this for no other reason than to clarify that my experience was not performing at a school function or public speaking at a conference. I was on stage with a world-renowned musical act performing music in front of tens of thousands of people. To my dad’s eternal credit, he made sure that I was always having fun. Outside of the obvious pressure of performing on stage, I never felt any pressure or influence to do anything as is the unfortunate case with many talented children. The only pressure I felt was what I put on myself as I endeavored to improve my playing.

My first taste of the power of consistency happened at home in the music studio my dad had created for me. When I felt like I was getting things wrong or my hands and feet couldn’t do what I knew I could do in my mind, I’d get extremely frustrated. I’d lose myself in the music, practicing for 7 hours a day even if there was a neighborhood hockey game outside or the Leafs were playing (which was a big deal in my house). I remember feeling that frustration between what I conceived of mentally and what my young motor skills were capable of executing. I would take my drums and shove them away in the closet because I was so disappointed in myself. I had self-belief. I could see, feel, and hear the music in my brain, but my hands and feet weren’t working that way yet. For context, this was happening at 3, 4, 5, and 6 years old — before most children can properly hold a pencil or tie shoelaces. I didn’t understand what was happening at the time because I had no semblance of context for fine motor skills. I would just get upset with myself because, while my body was four years old, my brain wasn’t. My brain knew exactly what to do. My body just couldn’t do it yet. This was the first instance I remember of a cognitive dissonance that has been a consistent theme throughout my life in several different areas. As I got older, however, I’d recall that experience as a small child and focus on consistency instead of getting as frustrated as I did when I was a little kid. I’m the same person, but my maturity has allowed me to frame my experience differently in my mind to have a more productive outcome. I began learning at age 3–4 what I now know for a fact: consistency is required to achieve what I know in my mind that I’m capable of despite whatever physical limitations I may have at the time. I know I can conquer it because my mind can see it. I visualize it and I know it’s possible. As an adult, I realize that I was naturally doing what sports psychologists and performance coaches train high-achieving individuals to do — visualize — combined with the one ingredient that nearly every highly successful person has in common: consistency.

I’ve learned that my experience and preoccupation with consistency are in stark contrast to peers and acquaintances I’ve come across in my lifetime. This contrast has been revealed when my inner struggle to do the things I don’t want to do hourly has been unintentionally projected onto others (especially those that have been close to me). This can be and has been understandably viewed as contentious at times. The accountability I have for myself to be consistent is far past anything that I expect of anyone else. In the past, however, I mistakenly did not calibrate my actions toward those I care about and expect greatness from as much as I would have liked. I wish I had the skill to have done a better job at that. I’ve been wrong in the past with my approach in certain circumstances, but I did learn from it all by identifying these issues within myself. What I lack in self-awareness, I’ve made up for with a strong ability to self-reflect. I’ve been able to refine certain very problematic parts of my extreme nature.

Pushing myself to improve over the decades of my life is much more rewarding now than it was when I was in the process. The process was sometimes unbearable, especially when I was incompetent. I would sometimes even get upset with myself because I wished that I had the skill to deal with certain self-inflicted issues better and with more grace. This deep disappointment in myself pushes me to be better because what will always be greater than being disappointed in myself in terms of performance is my self-confidence and ability to see the results of my actions directly in someone else.

In my competitive view, I’m here to win the war…with myself, that is. To do this, my order of operation needs continuous optimization that is small and hourly. That is derived from consistency.

Forty years is a long time while simultaneously feeling like a short amount of time. A period of 40 years has the ability to yield a notable result in terms of impact. I look forward to looking forward as a positive impact is what I see clearly.

Do you think 40 years is enough time to understand that time is not just precious but short?

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Steve Douglas

Steve is a Canadian polymath whose pro music career officially began at age 4 when he performed live @ Wembley Stadium. His focus = tangibly benefiting youth.