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  • Writer's picturebryan hendley

Decide What To Be & Go Be It

Image from Burst on Unsplash

The Avett Brothers have become my jelly and my jam. I'm no music buff by any stretch, but I've really gotten into their music, largely because of their incredibly well written lyrics, and their ability to tell a story and evoke emotion within a three minute song. For my birthday this year, my wife got us tickets to one of their concerts, and it was amazing.

They have a popular song titled, Head Full of Doubt, and within that song, a great line that says:

When nothing is owed, deserved or expected...

And your life doesn't change by the man that's elected.

If you're loved by someone your're never rejected...

Decided what to be, and go be it.

As someone who loves the personal development, growth, be a dreamer, take control of your life perspective, I always belt this out with tears streaming down my eyes and fire in my gut. I imagine myself looking into the eyes of my son and telling him this with such great conviction that he goes on to be the greatest version of himself possible.

And then I pull into work and turn the volume down, wipe my face, and get back to reality.

Just to be 100% clear, this is not a knock , slight, poke, or even a slightest hint of a suggestion that this line is wrong, off base, incorrect, or missing the mark. I consider these guys musically and lyrically blessed, and if I believed in reincarnation, it would not make me unhappy to wake up and realize I had returned as Scott Avett.

But, (and maybe it's just me) perhaps I need the small footnote attached to this lyric to say:

Or at least just start acting like it, a little bit, and then see what happens along the way

When nothing is owed, deserved or expected...

And your life doesn't change by the man that's elected.

If you're loved by someone you're never rejected

Decide what to be, and go be it, or at least just start acting like it, a little bit, and then see what happens along the way...

It's probably a little bit better the way the Avett Brothers wrote it.

What happens with me is that I scream that lyric at the top of my lungs, and give myself an internal h*## yeah and then get frustrated that not only am I having a hard time just going and being it, I'm also having a hard time deciding what it even is. And then I get a little bit frustrated with myself. I think about getting frustrated with the Avett brothers for what they've written, and then I remember that they are geniuses, and that their music is a gift to all of us and I just keep my frustration to myself.

As much as I'd like to, it's not always quite so easy, just to go and be that thing that we've decided we'd like to be. Sometimes it's not easy to even decide. What we can do, is prototype some plans. We can test some things out to help us decide. Then we can just start acting like it, a little bit, and see what happens along the way. Also, "acting like it" for me is not necessarily fake it, 'til you make it. What I really mean, is, "behave like it", or "do the things that a person like that would do."

My daughter, for now, thinks that she wants to be a vet. At 10, she can decide what she wants to be (for now), but she can't really go and be it. At least not fully. What she has done that has really impressed me, is that she has started "acting like it, just a little bit" and she's learning along the way. She reads a lot of dog books. She learns about ways that dogs are being mistreated and yells at me for not doing my part to make it right. She volunteers and goes through training at animal shelters. She also has a pretty solid small business doing all types of things associated with animals, which includes pet sitting, feeding animals while their owners are out of town, and dog walking. She's learning. She's doing the things that a person like that would do.

I'm still trying to figure the it that I'm going to go and be. Perhaps I shouldn't admit that, but it's the truth, and it feels like a truth that's safe enough for me to share here. Part of my it is teaching. I like to help people learn new things. I love to work alongside of people through things that are challenging, and help them come out on the other side with a newfound knowledge, skill, or confidence, or at the very least, with the pride in having worked hard on something that was worth working hard on.

Part of my it, I think, is being a storyteller. When I'm teaching, I love connecting new concepts to other things that students already know about, to help make the learning more accessible and interesting. I enjoy telling stories in Social Studies that help the students understand what was happening in the past, and how it relates to present day. As a writer, I like to write things that are encouraging, thought provoking, and sometimes funny. Part of my it is creating, coming up with new ideas, and thinking of solutions to problems.

Recently, I have taken some of my it, and started a podcast. You can check it out at I've recorded three episodes and I'm having a blast. I like to hear the stories from other people, and learn from them. With Extraordinary Joes (the pod), I'm talking to ordinary people, "just like you and me", who have interesting stories. Interesting as in, they own a business, they teach yoga, they have a coffee shop, they answered a craigslist ad and now they travel the world eating horse (true story, check out the session, International Man of Mystery coming soon).

I don't know what I'm doing. I'm probably not becoming a podcasting superstar. The audio isn't amazing right now, and I have some work to do on my podcast hosting skills. But maybe I'm becoming a better storyteller. I know for sure that I'm acting like it, a little bit, and I'm going to see what happens along the way.

I've worked with several different coaches. Life, career, however you want to categorize them. And to some degree, with all of them, I hoped that by the end of our time together, I'd be singing these song lyrics and thanking them for helping me see my dream (another lyric from the song), freeing me, like a bird in a cage (also a lyric) and then helping me just decide what to be and go be it.

While that would be awesome, and impressive, and a great story, that's not the game I'm playing right now. Right now, I'm going to keep on deciding what to be, then acting like it, a little bit, and then see what happens along the way.

I'm hoping you'll have the courage to do the same, whatever it is for you.

I'm pulling for you,


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