In my 20s I wrote songs for pro sports teams... basically all of them. One of those was a song called "Salute" for the Broncos.
Every time they scored the players would turn to the crowd and salute. The song became popular with the fans, and they played it all the time.
And in 1998, I was in Las Vegas watching the Super Bowl between the Denver Broncos and Green Bay Packers.
The Broncos scored the go-ahead touchdown with 1:45 left in the fourth quarter. A one-yard run by Terrell Davis gave them a 31-24 lead. Denver's defense then held off the Packers in the final moments to secure the victory and their first Super Bowl championship.
The energy in the MGM sportsbook was electric when my Nokia 5110 buzzed in my pocket with an incoming call. My heart raced because I recognized the number, and I excused myself from my friends, heading to a quieter corner to answer.
"Hello," I said.
It was the Broncos' front office, and they wanted me to come to Denver and perform the song.
“Yes,” I said. “Whatever you need.”
“We need you here tomorrow.”
Like I said, I was in Vegas. But the essential music track I needed to perform at the parade was in my NYC apartment.
In a race against the clock, I took the first flight from Las Vegas to New York to get the DAT tape with the music track.
It wasn't until I got to my Upper West Side apartment that I started to feel the weight of the situation.
I got the music track and jumped on the next flight bound for Denver where the Broncos' victory parade and my stage awaited.
Six hundred eighty-five thousand fans had gathered to celebrate, marking the largest live audience I had ever faced. I was so scared that I was shaking like I just got out of a cold plunge.
Thoughts crossed my mind like an eight-lane highway. What if I screw up? What will people think of me? What if I embarrass myself? Jesse run, run as fast as you can, get out of there. Don’t do it. I have to pee.
I looked down and realized that I had, in fact, just peed my pants.
Then I heard, "Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome..." as they pushed me onto the stage.
I started singing the song to the sea of devoted Broncos fans... and I forgot the lyrics!
Let me repeat that. I wet my pants and forgot my own lyrics in front of 685,000 people.
And guess what happened?
NOTHING. Nobody cared. Nobody knew.
Nobody is thinking about you and your failures or embarrassments like you are. People have their own things to worry about.
I learned a valuable lesson that day.
I'll put myself out there 100x over if my BIGGEST RISK is a potential embarrassment that nobody will even remember!
The pot of gold you covet is on the other side of fear; moments like that strengthen your courage and your grit muscle. And once you build that up, it never goes back down.