Popular blogger Seth Godin has come up with a fascinating theory. He said the contestants on Jeopardy who win most aren’t always the smartest. They’re the ones who buzz in first. Many claim the answer comes to them in the nick of time, although they can’t say how. Seth calls this the “Press the Buzzer” theory and believes it can also help us in life.
We all hesitate to try the new. But there are people who plunge in anyway. They throw down that gauntlet and fate be damned. I call them the “buzzer pressers.”
They’ll book that exotic vacation even though they’re scared. They’ll audition for a play, even though they’ve never set foot on stage. They’ll take tango lessons even though they don’t know their right foot from their left.
Here are 3 wonderful things I believe “pressing the buzzer” does. (I’m also proud to say these three examples involve family members).
First, it lets the universe know you’re “open for business” —
My 24-year-old son Paul works in a commercial kitchen where he learns lots of skills from his talented chef boss. But Paul also has dreams. He’d love to start his own business — maybe becoming a personal chef or caterer.
So what did he do? He “pressed the buzzer.”
He thought of his own catering concept, named it, and designed his own business card before the business even existed. He decided spending $20 on Vistaprint was worth taking that first step.
He started giving the card out. Before he knew it, a friend told him about a small catering gig he had. Paul began ordering a few pieces of equipment. A fledgling business had begun.
I’m convinced when you “press the buzzer” that fate aligns with you. You’ve put out a notice to the world – I’m ready — and many times, there’s a response.
Second, it forces you to take action –
My oldest son Patrick wanted to play solo shows before he had enough songs for a 3-hour set. He knew if he waited around for that to happen, it could take months, even longer.
Instead, Patrick “pressed the buzzer.” He booked a solo show at a local club for two weeks away.
He had to expand his repertoire from one hour to three.
So Patrick got busy. He spent every night after work learning songs… and songs… and songs. By the time of the show, he had a three-hour set. He played for that bar and the crowd loved him.
Now Patrick’s a well-known local musician as a solo act (in addition to his regular band).
As I’ve discovered the hard way, the logical mind is great at making excuses and talking us out of things. But when you plunge ahead anyway, you bypass that part of the brain. The creative, intuitive side has a chance to step in.
Third, it teaches you to be brave —
One of my favorite “buzzer pressers” was my late grandmother, Nana. In the 1950’s, she found herself a newly divorced mom with two teenage daughters. She lived in Boston, but dreamed of a better life.
One day Nana was driving around South Yarmouth, Cape Cod when she spotted a small parcel of beachfront property for sale. The rest of the beach was deserted with nothing built for miles. Nana got a funny feeling. She wasn’t quite sure what she’d do with this property, but knew she had to have it.
She “pressed the buzzer” and bought the land.
There were plenty of naysayers. Why would anyone buy a piece of deserted Cape Cod beach, many wanted to know. (Yes, people actually thought that back then.) But Nana had committed.
Over the years, she built a small motel on that empty expanse, which over time became one of Cape Cod’s hottest locations. Huge resorts sprang up on either side. Decades later, Nana sold the property for a tidy profit.
By “pressing the buzzer,” Nana had been forced to be brave.
I always find myself inspired by these stories. People take a chance. They move forward, whether they’re ready or not. They let the universe know they’re open for business.
Reading Seth Godin, he put into words something I always suspected, but could never articulate. We can’t grow without taking that scary leap of faith. We can’t grow without sometimes “pressing that buzzer.”
Who knows? Maybe someday I’ll try out for “Jeopardy.”
What are you hesitating about pressing the buzzer over? What are you proud you’ve rung in on? Comments are always welcome and if you like, please share. Thank you!