Thursday, October 13, 2011

If You Chop Them Down, They Will GROW

I have the hiccups. I am speaking to you right now, from the middle of the now, and I keep hiccuping over and over again. It's completely irrelevant to the point I'd like to speak to but it's really pissing me off so I thought I'd just throw that out there. Now that we've cleared that up, I'd like to talk about my many failure's, or hiccups, in life. I know, it's hard to comprehend but, yes, I've screwed up LOTS. And LOTS.

As the firstborn child in my family I frequently suffered from what many would describe simply as a disorder of, "I am the center of the universe-itis." If you too are the eldest of your siblings you might relate well to this condition. Jealousy, selfishness, entitlement, and a tendency towards temper-tantrums are all frequently reported symptoms associated with this typical childhood disorder.

As a teenager in high school, I used my four years at Kickapoo High School to climb to the pinnacle of the failure mountaintop. I've always hated math. My solution at the time was to do everything in my power to find ways to cheat my way through every math class I ever took in HS. Although it got me through, as you can imagine, I learned absolutely nothing. If I'm honest with myself, I graduated from KHS with an underwhelming sense of responsibility and no comprehension of what it means to have work ethic.

In my sophomore year of high school there was one weekend evening where myself and a buddy snuck out of my house and broke into some cars in the neighborhood. We ended up stealing nothing of value but did end up landing ourselves in juvenile hall and were ordered to serve community service.

My bad-boy streak didn't end there as in my junior year-right before summer break- I ran from the police when an impromptu drinking party in a parking lot was broken up. I wasn't so crossfit at the time so needless to say, they caught me and I landed myself in jail for the evening.

It's not that I always maintained a rebellious attitude but for the most part, all the way through my young adult years, I managed to always find a way to screw up in epic fashion. In no way am I proud of any of these personal shortcomings but I have come to realize something quite profound through each of these instances- and the many blunders I've strategically failed to mention to you: I've managed to learn from my failures. I've experienced personal growth which has directly contributed to more decisive victories throughout my adult life.

At 24, after my wife, Jenny, and I were married, I went back to college at Missouri State University to study Sports Medicine and Athletic Training. During my first feeble attempt to receive a higher education I, of course, failed out of school. Never went to class and did nothing but party. This go-around the stakes were higher. Now, I was married and out of the desire to succeed for myself and my family, I resolved in my heart of hearts to do something I'd never actually done: To try. To try with every fiber of my being. I enrolled in classes at MSU and received an academic renewal. I sat in the front of every class. I listened. I studied. Four years later, I graduated from one of the most rigorous (we started with 44 students in my SMAT class; 10 completed the program) undergrad programs offered at MSU.

Looking back, my will to grow as a man and succeed in life was not birthed only out of my desire or duty to be a good husband or family man. It grew slowly and steadily because of many of the consequences of my failures. The community service I did back in high school was spent at a local nursing home. For weeks, I showed up at this nursing home day in and day out to perform janitorial tasks, wash dishes, and help transport beds. Ultimately, I would interact and socialize with many of the elderly folks who were living out their final days and months of life at the facility. They would tell me stories of their lives, of their families, their failures, successes, and what they learned from it all. Again, I listened. More than anything, I was blessed. In doing so I developed a keen awareness of the fact that our mistakes and failures have the uncanny ability to till up the soil in the landscape of our lives. From this state of tilled and broken soil we are given the chance to grow new gardens; new gardens which, if properly nurtured, maintained, and constantly cared for, can bear good fruit and bring forth abundant life.

The thought I would pose to myself and to you is this: When we fail (or maybe just have a hiccup or two) and look down only to find our feet sunken in broken ground, the only way we'll ever have a chance at bringing life back to our barren lot of land is if we begin sowing good seed. It may take time, but with lots of love, hope, patience, and perseverance we'll one day experience the joy of strolling through a fruitful garden rather than the regret of sauntering through an unproductive desert.

I've trained, coached, and competed as a CrossFitter for a few years now and one thing I've noticed is that whenever you allow any fear of failure to permeate your psyche, you immediately diminish the possibility for athletic growth to occur. To make gains in human performance, it's necessary to take risks, to try, and to expose oneself to bigger and tougher challenges. Likewise, in life outside the box, if we are ever to experience sustainable personal growth, we must free ourselves from the paralyzing fear of failure by intentionally giving an honest effort every moment of each and every day. Here's to daily sinking in our roots a little deeper, sprawling out our branches a little wider, and when necessary, breaking new ground and planting new trees!

1 comment:

  1. Well said my friend. Everything that has happened in the past had to happen the exact way it did to get us where we are today. Being humble, grateful, and sharing our experiences will hopefully help inspire those around us. Thanks for the reminder, and words of encouragement.