If there is one thing I think we all need to work on, it would be the ability to:
Yes, that’s right, the things that you drag your feet on, put off til tomorrow, or never around to at all, these things probably suck. It is natural to avoid them because they suck, but that is you allowing yourself to be held back. If you could learn to get the things done that suck, you would be so far ahead of the rest of the world it would amaze you. The few people who are ahead of you at the moment are probably doing a better job of this than you are. That might be the ONLY reason they are out in front.
I’ll give you an example from my life that I always look back to when times get tough. There is a gravelly hill near the ASU campus that I discovered one day, and thought I would try to run up it for a workout.
I just looked it up on Google Maps, it’s called (Lizard Trail) I parked my car and walked through the desert landscape out to the base of the hill. I looked up and realized it was steeper, rockier, and a lot farther than I had thought from the road when I drove by. “Well, I’m here so I might as well do it” I thought to myself. I dug in and started running, not full speed, as it was too far to sprint. But I was going at a good clip; my feet were sliding and within the first fifty yards my quads and glutes were on fire. Then it got a little steeper. I pushed harder, determined to get to the top without stopping. The middle 50 yards was rougher than the first were, but I wasn’t here yet. The last fifty yards is nearly 25% grade, and I was running out of gas. I gritted my teeth and finished, and literally collapsed on the top of the hill. I lay there, rolling around in the dirt, gasping for air. I looked at my FitBit…it read 196. Yes, my heart rate was actually 196 beats per minute!
After I collected myself for a bit, I stood up and looked around. I knew I had found a new home. I was going to embrace the suck of this hill. I knew it would never give in, and it would test me every time I ventured out here. It was perfect and I loved the hill for it. I slowly walked down, legs wobbly from an all-out effort. I kicked a few of the bigger rocks off the trail in prep for next time. I got to the bottom and turned and looked back. It was looming large over me, staring down at me, taunting. I yelled out loud, as I knew what was coming…
I stretched a little, dug in, and started up again. I have developed a strong desire to conquer that inner voice telling me to stop, its too much, we need to quit. It was clear from the get-go this would test my resolve. I hit the first section and felt like I was going to throw up. I pushed harder, slamming the door on the part of my brain that wants to give in. I just kept telling myself “You can do it…you can make it” as I continued onward. As I reached the top, I nearly fell. I caught myself ten feet form the top and stumbled over my perceived finish line. I fell down again, this time in a heap. I was breathing so hard and I thought my heart was going to break through my ribs. I looked at my Fitbit again…210! I was scared my heart would explode. I was going to die right there in the Tempe desert, and it would be a week before anyone found me. I nearly passed out, and I rolled over onto my knees and threw up what little I had in my stomach. I crawled away from it, and sat up on a big rock. Sweat was pouring out of me, but so was the weakness I felt earlier. I CONQUERED IT.
I had to sit there almost fifteen minutes before I could make the walk down the hill and back to the car.
There were no witnesses, there was no prize waiting for me, or a bet to settle. It was me against me, and I won. I broke my inner bitch.
This is the real takeaway from this story…I did it for me. I knew that I could push myself nearly to the brink, because I had done it before. I am willing to work harder, suffer more, and conquer my own self limitations. I know this from the other times I had done the same in similar situations. I have not always won these internal battles, but I would say most of the time I did. Think about the confidence that gives me going into a tournament KNOWING I could go the distance…NO MATTER WHAT. I tap into that now, any time I need it, as it does not apply just to sports, but everything in life.
My racquetball career was not a storybook tale of rising to the top and being the number 1 player in the world. My story is about personal conquest, growth and development, and gaining knowledge that would later on make me the best coach and mentor I could possibly be. It doesn’t cure all ills or solve all problems, but it does give me the confidence to know that when I start something, I can finish it, regardless of what I may face or what that part of me that wants to quit has to say about it. This is what I want to share when I am on stage in front of the crowd. If I can learn to do it, so can you. There is nothing special about me, and yet, there is. What is special is that I didn’t give in. That’s it. Tolerance for suffering and self drive are learned skills. Period.
Whatever it is that you want to do in life, you have to Embrace the Suck. Here are the main takeaways of this blog:
Tolerance is a muscle you can strengthen and develop over time.
Pain is a relative term
We all have more than one inner voice, be sure you listen to the right one
You can almost always do more than you think
The reason(s) you do anything can vary a lot. Sometimes doing it just for you is plenty.
If you could get yourself to do just a little more than most, you would move out of the masses to the front of the pack
Go Embrace the Suck, in whatever your chosen endeavor.
I wish you luck.