A life of meaning isn’t born from standing still and repeatedly playing to your strengths. It’s birthed from taking chances and leaping into the places you’re afraid to go.
When I raced Ironmans and marathons, I was the very embodiment of the term slow motion. Not only did I suck, but my performance was so gossip worthy I once had a couple eye me doubtfully from the crowd, and as I mosied past, the woman said:
“Jeez...take her, for example.”
Suffering reaches an all new pinnacle when you’re suddenly being mocked for it. But the hard stuff - even the heightened kind - is the bedrock from which we’re truly made.
That was the whole point of choosing the races to begin with -
We need the hard stuff. It breaks us just enough to reveal who we are.
Take me for example...
My father moved us from the city to the country, so I grew up in a bucolic comedy sketch on a farm full of animals ranging from goat to one-legged goose.
We had no clue what we were doing, but we lived under my father’s ideological umbrella of - try anything, figure it out, make do, move on if it isn’t working...
When he died of the cancer he’d been fighting for years, I was fifteen. The world is always shifting beneath us, but when it rattles enough to actually change the landscape, you’ll find yourself in intensive training to figure out which way is North.
Losing your compass is hard. But ultimately, we do have to become our own. And when it points toward the things you fear most - your choices are stagnate... or follow the needle.
Take me for example...
Years later, I was diagnosed with the same cancer that took my father. The chemo, the meds, and the puking wasn’t what terrified me. Surviving knowing that cancer could return once I’d lowered my fists and stopped swinging? That was the punch.
That’s when I knew I had to train for the races. Climb the mountain. Run with the bulls…
Not because I realized every moment was precious. I already knew that. But because I had to make plans with fear and discomfort, knowing the hard things, unpredicted or self inflicted, have always shown me where to grow.
There is no inspiration, no lesson, no life altering reward in playing safe. The best version of yourself, your team, your company awaits down the path of the unknown.