I remember around 2010 or 2011 hearing about a race called the Spartan Death Race. It boasted the simple tag line, “You May Die”.
You are not told when it starts.
You are not told when it ends.
You are not told what it entails.
The race organizers even state, “We want you to fail and encourage you to quit at any time”.
The point of the race is to challenge the athlete both mentally and physically in ways you have never been challenged before. No two races are the same, no support is given, and the longest race to date lasted over 70 hours.
This race is not for the faint of heart.
Needless to say, I was very intrigued.
That same year I entered my first obstacle event, The Warrior Dash. It was fun, different, and somewhat challenging, but seemed more focused on the casual athlete and providing an experience versus a ‘challenge’.
Nothing that was going to get me ready for a Death Race.
I planned to enter a few different, more challenging events the following year, but life had different plans in store for me, and obstacle event races were put on hold and forgot about…until this year.
My mentor and found of the StoryAthlete group ran his first Spartan Race this Summer and was hooked. So much so that he challenged us to join him in competing in the Spartan Trifecta in 2020.
I did not need to be asked twice, I was in!
The Spartan Trifecta consists of 3 Spartan Race Series events in the same Calendar year:
A 3-mile Spartan Sprint.
An 8-mile Spartan Super.
A 13-mile Spartan Beast or 30-mile Spartan Ultra.
Rope climbs, wall climbs, heavy carries or drags, spear throwing, tire flipping, atlas stones, burpees, hercules hoists, cargo nets, log carries, swimming, running, steep climbs, fast descents, etc…
No bullshit wrapped in a fancy package.
Just tests designed to challenge the mind and body and truly push an athlete to their physical and mental breaking points.
Training for the group of us ready to take on this challenge began last month with the 100 Burpees-A-Day for a Month Challenge.
100 Burpees a day may sound easy enough, until you actually have to do it.
Down, kick out, back in, up, and jump. That’s one.
Plus, we did them for time. Not to compete against each other, but to compete against ourselves, because that’s what the Spartan Races are really about…competing against yourself to see what you are really capable of doing.
Training continues this month with new challenges in the form of GRIT Workouts, and like the Spartan Races themselves, I never know what each day will bring other than new levels of pain and soreness that have been challenging me in ways I have not felt in years.
I can’t believe it’s September.
Children either began or returned to school yesterday.
Almost overnight, the weather cooled and if you look around, some trees are beginning to change and drop their leaves.
Time continues to march on, and in the blink of an eye, years have passed by us in what feels like weeks or months.
When I was younger, I remember sitting around and dreaming of all the things I was going to do when I ‘grew up’.
Days seemed to drag on and school felt like it was never going to end.
I was looking to the future, hoping that it would just hurry up and get here.
Now that I am ‘grown up’, I sit and reflect back on the past 25 years since I graduated high school and wonder where did the time go.
The past 25 years seemed to have passed me by faster than the first 20 ever did.
It’s funny how the naiveitivity of youth makes us feel like we have nothing but time before us, but the reality is that with each passing day we are closer to the grave than we are the crib.
We live our lives as if time is on our side and that we are winning the game of hide and seek we are playing with Father Time.
But Father Time is conspiring with the Grim Reaper as we confidently go through our lives in a fog. All the while the two of them are slowly closing in on us.
Most of us are not really living, but instead are just going through the motions.
Wake up, go to work, clean the house, pay the bills, raise some kids, etc…
Wash, rinse, repeat, day after day.
The dreams of our youth forgotten as we navigate the shackles of limitation that we have placed upon ourselves.
I recently took a 4 month break from social media and the internet to clear my mind, center myself, and meditate on life.
The result of that time of reflection is the realization that I have been living life in a fog for too long, just going through the motions, and it is time to refocus and embrace a Challenge Based Life instead.
A Challenge Based Life is more than just a concept, it is a code of living that myself and my fellow StoryAthletes choose to live by.
It is a life of pushing ourselves outside of our comfort zones both mentally and physically because embracing the ‘suck’ is what forces us to grow and makes life worth living.
Pain = Growth
It is a code that is not always easy, and is often times painful, but the journey is necessary to truly grow and become the person you are destined to be.
#KJHouseAndHome #BeGenerous #StoryAthlete #TheOnePercentJourney#ChallengeBasedLife
Yesterday in my entrepreneurial group, my mentor told the story of how this past week his son had a hitting clinic for baseball with Hank Jones who was a long time scout for the LA Dodgers.
In the story there were life lessons, words of wisdom, and if you play baseball…a tip or two on hitting.
But that is not what stood out for me.
One of the first things Hank Jones asked the kids at this clinic was if they had a journal.
He then instructed them to go home after this clinic, get out a journal, and write down what they learned that day so that they will know it and not forget it.
These couple of sentences were not even the point of the story, but they captured my attention and got me thinking about what I don’t write down so I remember it, especially when it comes to reading.
I read a lot of books. At any given time I am usually reading 2 or 3 different books at the same time, mostly about personal development, business building/theory, or biographies of business leaders.
In these books I may highlight a passage that stands out to me or make a few notes in the margins, but if I am being honest with myself, a lot of the knowledge and lessons contained in these books are forgotten soon after I move on to the next book or two.
But Hank’s words resonated with me and got me thinking that maybe I should start journaling after each chapter I read, so I don’t forget what I learned. Specifically what stood out to me and how did that impact me.
So often there are concepts that I want to remember and draw ideas from, but I don’t always remember where I read them, so I will spend time flipping through pages of books, skimming their pages, hoping I find the passage or concept I am looking for, but most often failing in the process.
By journaling after each chapter I read, I will reinforce what I have just learned, and create a document of knowledge that I can easily reference for future use.
After 16 years of schooling and note taking, one would think this would not be a revolutionary concept, but apparently I needed a reminder that learning never stops and the study skills we learned so long ago in school are still very applicable as adults.
#KJHouseAndHome #BeGenerous #StoryAthlete #theonepercentjourney
10 weeks ago I set a goal for myself…to be able to do 100 push ups.
With a goal in place, I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to get there. So I picked up my phone, went to the App Store and searched ‘100 Push Ups’.
To my surprise, there are many apps that promise they can train you to be able to be able to do 100 push ups. I found one I liked by Fitness 22, paid $2.99 for it, and was ready to begin my journey to achieve my goal.
For many, 100 push ups may not sound that difficult, but push ups are something I have struggled with all my life.
My body type is more of a slight build with not a lot of muscle mass. In the past I have tried hitting the gym hard to build more upper body mass and strength, but I have always found the gym to be boring and a waste of time, so my commitment was never quite there.
Nevertheless, I have always wanted to be like Bruce Wayne in ‘Batman Begins’ where he gets out of bed, falls forward, and starts busting out push ups like it’s nothing, but if I would have ever tried that, I likely would have hit my face on the floor and broke my nose instead.
All journeys have to start somewhere though.
On Monday February 4th, I woke up, pressed ‘start’ for the first time, and did the first workout: 18 total push ups, divided into 4 sets of 5-5-5-3 push ups.
That wasn’t so bad.
Each day increased the amount of push ups I did. Day 2 had me doing 20 push ups, Day 3 was 25 push ups, Day 12 was 35 push ups, and so on.
As the sets and reps increased, so did the challenge. Especially once it started to get to 17 or 18 reps in a set.
If my mind was in the right place, I could do the first 3 or 4 sets without much trouble, struggling on the 5th set.
But if I was having a low energy day, or my mind was not fully focused on the task at hand, I was in trouble at the end of the second set. Often times needing to take a couple seconds ‘break’ in order to recover enough to squeeze out 2 or 3 more reps to keep on pace to finish the workout for that day.
This speaks to what I was talking about yesterday when I said that a prerequisite to success was having the right mindset.
Physically I had no problem doing 3-4 sets of 15-20 push ups, but if my mind is not fully engaged in the task for that day, the number dropped to 2 sets of 15-20, at best, before I begin to struggle.
But I kept at it, embraced the struggle, and pushed through the pain.
Little by little, 1% by 1%, I got better, and reached a new PR (Personal Record) every day.
As of yesterday, I am proud to say that for the first time in my life, I achieved my goal of being able to do 100 push ups.
I would like to say that achieving my goal gave me a sense of satisfaction (well, I guess it did for about a day), but it made me hungry for more.
Instead of being content with my accomplishment, next week I will begin working towards 2 new goals: 200 push ups and 20 pull ups.
I think if there is one thing on this planet that everyone would agree on, it would be that they want to be successful in life.
What it means to be successful will vary from person to person and the road traveled to success will be as varied as snowflakes in the sky, but I believe all journeys to success share the same prerequisite, and that is having the right Mindset.
Henry Ford summed it up best when he said, “If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.”
Success or failure.
It all starts in our minds.
It’s really that simple.
About a year or two ago, I was reading a book about climbing Mt Everest.
The author of the book was a successful mountaineer and guide, having summited most of the world’s most formidable peaks.
One story he told really stood out to me.
While it is always his goal to get his clients to the top of Mt Everest, he could tell in base camp who was actually going to reach the summit and who wasn’t.
It had nothing to do with what physical condition they were in or how well they were adjusting to altitude, it had everything to do whether they believed they could do it or not
He could see in his clients eyes if they had the mental fortitude it took to embrace the struggle needed to successfully reach the top of the world.
Climbing Everest is a test of the human body, but just as important, it is a test of the human mind.
The prize of standing on the summit of Mt Everest is not won or lost on the mountainside, it is won or lost long before that in the minds of those that set out to climb her.
We are all capable of doing great things.
Unfortunately, somewhere along the way our belief in ourselves has been replaced with a limiting belief as to what we are capable of.
I have come to learn that you can have all the talent in the world or all of the opportunities handed to you, but if you don’t possess the right mindset, if you can’t silence that limiting belief we all have hiding in the back of our heads, you will fail every time in whatever it is you are trying to achieve.
#KJHouseAndHome #BeGenerous #StoryAthlete #theonepercentjourney
When I was a sophomore in college I went to go live and study in England for a year.
If you have never studied abroad, you go through a range of emotions as you adjust to a life away from family, friends, and a way of life you have ever known.
At first it is exciting.
New Country, new culture, new experiences, and so forth.
The food tastes better, the world around you is more vibrant and alive, and the women (or men) are more beautiful than any you have seen before.
But soon the sadness, isolation, and loneliness begin to set in.
Sure you are making friends, but they are not those deep friendships you cultivated and left behind, leaning on in times of need. You also begin to miss family and start to realize how important family has been to you all along, even when you were ‘too cool’ for everyone.
This is all a part of the study abroad experience, and everyone who has participated in it has experienced these feelings in some form or another and to varying degrees while they were away.
Some may call it ‘home sickness’. I disagree. It’s not so much about missing home, as it is about stepping outside a place of comfort and adjusting to it without the emotional support that you had only ever known.
When I was living abroad, I reached this point about 2 months into my year long stay.
My girlfriend back home was moving on, my friends were doing their own thing and didn’t have time for me, I was struggling with classes, and because I am an introvert by nature I was slow to form any new relationship that were deeper than surface-level acquaintances.
I was reaching a breaking point and had to do something to release these feelings and emotions building up inside of me.
This is back before any form of social media, so keeping in touch with your family, friends, and old life was a challenge. ‘Snail mail’ and over-priced phone calls were your only salvation to a world you walked away from and left behind, and it could be weeks before you received either.
I remember one grey day sitting alone on my bed in my room, staring out of the window and thinking to myself, “I need to hit someone”.
Now I don’t mean ‘hit someone’ in the get in a fight sort of way. I have never been that kind of person. I’m talking about sports. Sports have always been a form of emotional release for me, so when I wanted to ‘hit someone’, it was in an athletic sort of way.
I decided I needed to find some athletic endeavor to immerse myself in to, so I got on the bus and headed to campus to see what options I had.
As luck would have it, the University’s Rugby Club was practicing that day and all were invited.
After I went to the store to purchase some basic supplies so I would still be able to have kids and my teeth later in life, I headed to the pitch to begin my first Rugby practice.
The night was perfect, it was misty with a slight chill in the air. Everything was wet and slightly muddy, the perfect ingredients for blowing off some steam.
After warm-ups and introductions, we formed circles for tackling drills. It was like the coach was reading my mind and giving me exactly what I needed.
In this tackling drill, it was like a modified game of ‘Duck, Duck, Grey Duck’. We were all down on one knee in a circle, facing inward. A person would run around the outside of the circle and when your name was called you were supposed to reach out and arm tackle the person. This was a drill that was basic to anyone who played Rugby and the persons on the pitch most likely had been doing this drill since primary school.
One problem though, this was not the kind of tackling I was ever taught. No one took the time to pull me aside and instruct me on how to arm tackle a person. It was just assumed I knew what to do.
My only experience tackling anyone was my few years I played football from 7th through 9th grade. I was not a big tough football player by any means, as my 5’6”, 130 pound frame showed. I quit after my freshman year of high school, but seeing as how I I played since 7th grade, I had a few years of tackling drills under my belt.
When my name was called I watched that person running around the circle towards me and did the only thing I knew how to do, the one thing that came natural to me. I pivoted, popped up and buried my shoulder ‘into the numbers’.
It felt oh so good. Exactly the release I needed that day.
Unfortunately, others did not share in my joy. Whistles blew as my opponent went flying on to his back, mouth guard landing somewhere in the mud further away.
The coach pulled me up, yelling at me about how this is a ‘gentleman’s game’ and if I want to be a hooligan to can head over to the football (soccer) pitch.
I was confused since a hit like that would normally have got me high fives and a slap on the butt, but not in jolly ol England. Apparently I still had a lot to learn about this new culture, but damn did I feel a little bit better than I did 5 minutes prior.
To this day, contact sports remain my outlet for releasing any stress and anxiety that build up inside of me.
Hockey, specifically goaltending, has replaced Rugby as my outlet of choice, but the release is still the same.
Whether it be a shoulder or a puck, sometimes a good hard hit is all that is needed to release the tension that has crescendoed into a breaking point in order to make everything right in the world again.
#KJHouseAndHome #BeGenerous #StoryAthlete #theonepercentjourney
Earlier this week I shared a story about a recurring dream I have had since childhood and how it has given me a fear of lions.
In this dream I am being stalked by a lion who I can’t escape from.
I had a couple people private message me since I shared that story, telling me how they have had similar dreams also.
One particular message stood out though.
It comes from an individual who is part of my StoryAthlete group who offered to share his interpretation of how he sees my lion.
“I actually believe differently of the lion’s presence.
I think the Lion was friendly and cared for you, even loved you.
The way you wrote of the lion, how it was always present, never chased you or was aggressive, .. to me, it was there for you, not to chase you.
It was a “strong presence” to hold the place of strength, pride, respect, and all the other positive things a Lion could represent.
It was there to remind you, that these aspects of you, are always with you! And I think a part of you does recognize the Lion’s presence as benevolent and beneficial to you.
My hypnosis teacher told us a story, of a little girl, that had a nightmare that she was being chased by a monster. Actual chase, lots of running. while she was in trance, as she was running in this nightmare/dream, my teacher states to her: “Stop running! Turn around! And Ask what the monster wants!” the little girl did exactly as my teacher instructed. and the monster said to the girl:”I wanted to warn you, of something dangerous in your life!” Turned out the monster just wanted to warn her, not harm her.
And I see that of the Lion, in your dream here!
That Lion is here for you!”
This interpretation of my dream has had an impact on me.
I had never considered that the lion could be positive character who cared for me and was there to protect or warn me of something.
I always saw that lion as a predator who was out to harm me, an antagonist to my life in some way.
This interpretation of my dream reminded of one of my favorite moments in Star Wars.
It is a scene where Obi-Wan Kenobi returns to Luke Skywalker as a Force Ghost after Luke has found out that Darth Vader is really his father.
Luke: Obi-Wan. Why didn’t you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father.
Obi-Wan: Your father was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true, from a certain point of view.
Luke: A certain point of view?
Obi-Wan: Luke, you’re going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view…
Prior to this revelation, Luke believed that Darth Vader had killed his father and Luke was determined to avenge his father’s death.
This scene quietly changed the direction of movies and the protagonist/antagonist relationship between 2 of the main characters. It is in this moment that we realize there is more to Darth Vader than we previously thought, and Luke is no longer set on killing Darth Vader. Sensing the good still in him, Luke is now determined to save his father.
In much the same way, the interpretation of the lion that was laid before me made me consider that there may be more to what that lion represents than I previously thought.
That the lion is a positive presence in my life who is there to help and guide me, instead of the monster I had always believed was out to harm me.
The truth is often what we make of it. We hear what we want to hear and believe what we want to believe.
Maybe my biases and fears have gotten in the way of allowing me to see the true intentions of the lion and what he represents.
If anything, this has been a reminder to be fluid in what I believe to be true in life. Often times there is much more beneath the surface if we take the time to look and see things from a different point of view.
#KJHouseAndHome #BeGenerous #StoryAthlete #theonepercentjourney