I Didn’t Die! But I Did Cry!
I LOVE American Ninja Warrior! I love that they push their physical and mental limits. I love the sportsmanship as they all encourage and support each other even though they are competing. And I love how much fun it looks! So when I was asked last year if I was interested in doing the Rugged Maniac, a 5K race with 25 obstacles, I thought, ‘…what a blast. This is just the thing that will get me working out. I have months to prepare. Sign me up!’
The Couch to 5K app was great start. I was consistent, until I wasn’t…old habits really do die hard. Life got busy, time quickly passed and the race was was quickly approaching. Then came the mental game. I have 3 weeks to get ready. I have 2 weeks to get ready. Anxiety started setting in and I was having an enormous internal conflict. I didn’t want to NOT do it. I wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone. I wanted to have fun. Yet the anxiety had such a hold on me that I felt paralyzed.
My first break down was about 1 week prior to the race. I was so nervous about the obstacles. I didn’t want to look like an idiot. I didn’t want to break a hip. I was mad at myself for not following through on the preparation. The thought about this race was really consuming me. I was anxious and quite frankly, a little bitchy. And yet, I was NOT going to back out.
A little coaching got me to the place of, ‘go and have fun. I can walk around any obstacle I don’t feel comfortable. Enjoy being outside. I have control over what happens.’
I didn’t sleep much the night before the race. Our heat time was 12:30pm, got there too early and then waited. Every 15 minutes a new group took off. The race was at Wilmot Mountain so up they would run…up, up, up. We watched some of the last obstacles… the warped wall, sliding down to the water, jumping over fire. The longer I waited, the more anxious I became. I felt like a Dementor had sucked all the happiness and joy out of me. (For my Harry Potter loving friends!) I was in full on panic mode!
We headed over to the starting gate where we actually had to get over a 4 ft wall to even begin the race. Are you frickin’ kidding me here? There’s a 26th obstacle? That was NOT in the race packet information! I’m watching people pop over the wall, some struggling, some giving or getting a leg up. There was a folding chair nearby so I grabbed it to step on. Upon landing on the other side, I completely stumbled. I got to my feet and looked at one of the race volunteers and simply stated, ‘I’m going to *%#!@&#^! die!’
A woman behind me shared she had a neurological disorder, had injured her back and that she wasn’t going to let that limit her. She loved doing this race, had so much fun in the past, and wanted to share the experience with her young son. Seriously? She has a neurological disorder and an injured back and she was excited for the race? I smiled and truly only half-listened as the pounding of my heart was drowning her out. Tears were welling up in my eyes. I couldn’t control it anymore. Addie’s constant coaching and encouragement from the rest of our team helped…a little.
The starting horn blared. It was time.
Off we went. Up, up, up the mountain. We jogged for a bit, we walked for a bit. The movement allowed for some of my anxious energy to release. We approached the first obstacle. Can’t even remember what it was, but I went for it. I was screaming, “I did it! I did it!” I thought, this is one more obstacle than I thought I could handle. I was having some fun. I got in the mud and army-crawled under barbed wire. I climbed up and over the rope net. I ran across the lily-pad things and didn’t fall into the water. I was doing it!! I got some support from others along the way, like a boost up or a hand. I also supported others as well. It was a blast. I felt strong and proud of myself. I completed 20 of the 25 obstacles! And when we crossed the finish line, I burst into tears again. This time it was the built up anxiety and relief that poured out of my system. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t hurt myself. If I looked like a idiot I didn’t care. I was having so much fun doing something I had never done before.
How often do we NOT go for it out of fear of looking stupid, failing, or hurting ourselves, maybe not physically, but certainly emotionally. What do we miss out on experiencing? Joy, fun, accomplishment, opportunity to learn? So we decided to do it again this year with another group of friends! The outcome was a little different…5 went in, only 4 came out!
2018 2019 Before and after!
We were 2/3 done and enjoying ourselves. Barb ran up the wall, just missed the grab and came back down. Her body, slightly twisted, landed funny and down she went. Diagnosis: Tore ACL and meniscus. Surgery required. And all she had to say was, “I’m doing it again next year!”
We don’t know what may or may not happen…perceived good or not so good outcome. We can ‘what-if’ all day long. What if someone judges me? What if I fail? What if I get hurt?
The ‘what-if’s’ limit us. Period. Limits us from trying something new, from taking a chance, and often from simply being our authentic selves.
Where are the ‘what-if’s’ holding you back?
Sure, we can’t predict the future, unless…What If we changed the What If’s?
What if your idea increased the bottom line by 20%?
What if you meet someone special?
What if you said ‘no’ and the world didn’t end?
What if you had more joy and fulfillment in your life and work?
I’m not suggesting you jump off a cliff and I’m not limiting you either! Just wondering, what would change for you if you changed your what if’s?
Lesley Picchietti, PCC, CPC, ELI-MP
© Inspire Bliss Coaching and Consulting 2019
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