In 2002 my younger brother called me while he was in boot camp for the military. Worried about how he might be handling the adjustment to military life, I immediately asked how he was doing. His response, “Eh….it’s really no different than growing up with our parents.”
We grew up in a pretty regimented, no excuses household. You did your best and then next time you did better. If you fell down, you got up. If you got hurt, you bandaged it and kept going. There was a zero tolerance policy for whining and excuse making. Not that we were raised with uncaring parents. We were just taught to push ourselves to the best of our ability.
As kids….it sucked. As adults…it’s come in handy. This past weekend was a good example.
Last weekend I ran my first military style obstacle race. Since I had been bedridden with a bad ankle for the previous 3 weeks, I was having some pretty severe second thoughts about (what was becoming) a “suicide mission.” Race day came and there I stood shaking from nerves and the frigid morning temperatures.
Before The Race: My sister and brother-in-law ran with me. We’re smiling…but nervous.
I have to say, the first two hours I was feeling pretty good. I was tired, covered in mud, and freezing from the cold clothes that now weighed an extra 10 pounds from the ice water.
However, mentally I was still motivated. Somewhere around the 2 hour mark, as I was carrying sandbags up half mile incline, I started to mentally deteriorate.
Not smiling…but still moving forward.
We all started dragging a little bit. My brother-in-law kept encouraging us by yelling, “Just put one foot in front of the other. Just put one foot in front of the other.”
And so we did. Step by step, obstacle by obstacle….one foot in front of the other. Up ramps, over walls, through freezing water….until finally…FINALLY we crossed the finish line.
We look a little worse for wear. But we are smiling…because we lived.
I can’t remember ever being more exhausted in my life. But mentally, I can’t remember ever being on a bigger “high.”
Here is what I learned….I don’t care what you want to accomplish. I don’t care how big your dreams and goals are. I don’t care what your background is. I don’t care what your obstacles are. I don’t care what your childhood was like. I don’t care what mistakes you’ve made.
If you want to go somewhere….anywhere….that’s different from where you are today, put one foot in front of the other until you get to the finish line.
You are going to get tired. There are going to be moments it’s going to suck. You will have LOTS of times where it is easier to quit. You are going to look for excuses to quit. You are going to cry. You are going to get motivated. You are going to get knocked down. You are going to have pain. The voice in your head is going to tell you that you can’t do it.
Just put one foot in front of the other.
The people that quit, quit because they look at the entire race. They focus on the obstacles. They let their minds convince them that the road is going to be long and difficult. They become fixated on every ache and pain of their muscles. They allow moments of doubt fester into a full-blown breakdown.
But YOU are different. You aren’t focused on the pain or the fear. You aren’t focused on the exhaustion or the distance you have to go. You aren’t focused on how everyone else is doing.
You are just focused on putting one foot in front of the other. And THAT is how you get to the finish line.