Create Your Fate

Ben Shelton - Josh Richards

Interviewing Josh Richards for a CBS Sports broadcast.

I sat there nervously staring at my lunch as I wondered if I was making the right decision.

No, I wasn’t worried that I had made a bad decision by going with the pulled pork instead of the ribs. Rather I was concerned if I had made a bad decision in my professional life.

Two weeks prior I had turned in my resignation notice at the engineering company, where I had worked for over 10 years. There were good times and there were bad times along the way. Thus is the case in any job.

My family and pretty much everyone – except for my awesome wife – thought I was making a mistake by giving up a good-paying and stable job to chase what might be a pipedream.

However, I knew that I wanted more out of life. I knew I wanted to pursue my dreams. I wanted to find a way to make a living in racing.

My zombie-like stare into my plate during my “farewell lunch” was interrupted by one of the owners of the company.

“So now tell me again what exactly you are going to be doing?” he asked.

Despite my limitless jitters, I felt like my instant reply was strong and true.

“I’m going to work full-time in the racing industry. I’m going to build and maintain websites. I hope to expand my announcing resume too.”

Not finished there, I added one final note. “Maybe, one day you’ll even see me on tv as an on-air personality,” I proclaimed.

What happened next, eternally ignited the fire and drive inside of me.

Without even looking up at me from his own lunch, he simply laughed under his breath and muttered the words, “Yeah, sure, ok.”

The date was March 10, 2010, and the time was 12:17 p.m. CST.

I know these details because I instantly looked down at my watch and burnt the facts into my memory. I didn’t know how long it would take, but from that moment in time I was determined to one day prove him wrong.

Sheryl Shelton - Waiting on me at the airport after my first tv gig

My beautiful wife waiting on me at the airport after my first tv gig.

Fast forward to Sunday, October 30, 2016 at 1 p.m. CST, and I made my television debut on CBS Sports. It took almost seven years to prove him wrong, but by God, I did it.

I’d be lying if I didn’t say that it wasn’t a rough and rocky road to get to where I wanted to be. More than once I wanted to give up, but those negative words that were dropped on me back in March 2010 kept me digging.

Maybe they were just innocent words from him – with no real harm intended. However, for me it was all I needed to confirm a passion to pursue my dreams.

Along the way he’s not the only naysayer I’ve encountered. Let’s face facts – there are people who only get enjoyment out of failure by others.

I don’t care if you work in racing – like me – or if you work any other job on the planet. Odds are pretty good that somebody is rooting against you.

In the racing world I see it every day on social media and internet forums. People, who are miserable in their own existence, get their jollies by bashing and putting down other people who are trying to make a difference.

Whether it be announcers, officials, racers, tracks, series, companies, and even fans, the haters seem to love to line up and root for your demise.

I still encounter them in my life on a regular basis.

I’ll be honest – it used to really get to me. It would bother me that people would bash me or say I was doing a poor job. I spent many sleepless nights trying to figure out how to impress everyone. I wanted to find a way to get everyone on board with what I was trying to do.

Then – about a year ago – I literally woke up one day and thought to myself, “No matter what you do, you aren’t going to appease some people.”

With that realization, I again just put my head down and worked diligently on reaching my goals. However, this time my motivation was a little different. I wasn’t doing it to gain their approval. I was doing it to gain my own.

At the end of the day being at peace with what you do is really all that matters. Deep down inside you are the only one that knows whether or not you are giving something your all. Everyone else’s opinions of you are just trivial.

I also began to do my best to filter the negativity out of my life. Life’s way too short to be miserable all the time. That’s a reality.

As a result, I cleansed my social media lists of those who only seem to exist to drag others down. It sounds like a simple solution, but I can’t begin to describe how much happier things are when you aren’t reading nonstop negativity.

I know we all have bad days, and we need to vent. However, if every day and every thought is filled with negativity, how can you ever expect to achieve happiness?

I don’t expect those folks to change their ways. That’s their right to say and express what they want. Similarly, it’s also my right to not want to be exposed to it.

There’s no hard feelings there. I’m just trying to find the healthiest ways to live my own life.

From my experiences, I also developed a principle that I now try to live by daily. I decided that haters can only win if you allow them to win.

No matter how much hate, disdain, or ill intent they project in your direction, they can’t beat you if you don’t let them.

Ben Shelton interviews Jason Sides in victory lane. (Seth Lacewell photo)

Interviewing Jason Sides in victory lane. (Seth Lacewell photo)

Try as they might, if you stand strong and keep driving forward, they can’t possibly stop you. Speaking from experience, there is no greater satisfaction than achieving a goal that someone else has told you is impossible.

So with all of these thoughts I share this article here today. No matter what type of work you do, odds are pretty good that you deal with someone doing their best to hold you back.

Sadly, this is part of life in our society today. Those who would never dream of taking a risk in their own life are ironically the first ones to cast a stone at someone who actually takes a chance.

Sometimes it’s incredibly hard to turn the other cheek and ignore them. However, if you want something bad enough, you cannot be stopped.

I wish you all nothing but the best as you work diligently to prove naysayers wrong in the pursuit of your dreams.

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