Sometimes we fail, to succeed.
I have previously claimed to be done seeking an adrenaline-fueled career. But for some reason, I found myself at a physical agility test this past week as part of the application process to become a part-time firefighter. I went on a ride along with the department about a month ago and really enjoyed the department and the city. This part-time firefighter position would afford me the opportunity to balance work and family life.
Once again, I was driven by the physical challenges the job presented, the team environment and the sense of purpose.
On the day of the event, I showed up about 30 minutes early. I immediately saw about 10-15 guys circled in the parking lot stretching. As I parked the car and found a position in the unofficial stretching circle, I could feel myself immediately sizing everybody up and passing judgment.
Ohhh, he looks overweight.
That guy is really short.
I can definitely beat most, if not all, of these guys.
But as I looked around the circle, I too saw other people assessing the competition as well. It just reminded me how competitive people are. Competition was instilled in us at such a young age. In our homes (if we had siblings), in sports, in school.
I remember taking my son to a baseball clinic earlier this month. One of the first stations he went to was base running which was setup at home plate. There were two lines setup and at the sound of the whistle, a kid from each line would run to first base, tag the base, and run back. First and foremost, I noticed the kids enjoying the activity as they smiled and laughed during the event. But I also saw another aspect of the race. Coaches providing motivation and encouragement to the kids. “C’mon, so and so is going to beat you!” “Catch up to him, you don’t want to be last” I saw many of the kid’s facial expressions change before, during and after the race now. Some were still laughing; some had the game day race face on while some remained oblivious to the pressures of the competition and still continued to just have fun.
So I stretched in our impromptu circle that early morning. I continued to survey each prospective candidate. I found myself reciting motivational phrases, similar to the ones the coaches said to the kids at the baseball clinic, but my phrases were much harsher and more personal.
We all were summoned by the proctors of the exam to make our way to the testing site. As we all walked together to the test site, I felt that team concept again.
Can’t say it felt great. I can say it felt familiar. We were simply a group of strangers who had come together for a shared experience. We all came together for a specific goal. Before it was military, law enforcement, basketball, and now fire. Felt like de ja vu.
(Un)fortunately, the day did not go as planned. I failed at a specific event. I performed the task out of sequence which led to an automatic failure of the test. The proctor told me I failed but expressed appreciation for my efforts and said I was the hardest worker that day.
I remember hearing the word “failed” come out of his mouth. In the past, when I heard that word my mind would go into immediate survival mode. I would immediately compound the situation by continually telling myself I sucked. How I wasn’t any good and how I did not deserve anything. This would fuel me, anger me, motivate me to avoid that feeling ever again. Rejection. I never wanted to feel that again. In my career, in a relationship, in my life, EVER!
STOP and LISTEN.
That day of the test was different. I felt like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. I found clarity in that moment. A realization that I no longer needed to prove anything to myself or anyone. A test would no longer determine my worthiness. I no longer needed to be better than someone else. I was the same person after the test that I was before the test. Nothing changed.
Someone told me before to listen to the story that you’re telling yourself…Because a lot of the times we make our reality by the stories that we’re telling, and you can tell any story in a positive way or in a negative way, and so it helps to stop and ask yourself, ‘Ok, what is the story I’m telling myself: Is this really a reality, and how can I change this story to make it a better reality.Julie Foucher – American CrossFit athlete
I realized I was comfortable with who I was in that moment and overall. To come to that realization was no small feat for me. It has taken me years to finally build that self-esteem and confidence in myself but most importantly that love and compassion for myself.
I am Strong. I am Courageous. I am Grateful. I am Aware. I am Present.
A negative story would no longer be told of how I wasn’t any good.
What in the end happens if we reach this place of choice and actually choose to be authentically who we are? We will have thereby healed the original childhood wound that we inflicted on ourselves, back when we abandoned our true self in exchange for the conditional love of others. Only when we reach this stage can we truly give each other the ultimate gift, the gift of who we really are.Allen L. Roland, PhD
Life has a plan for everyone. We may not see it right away or ever, but we must have faith that our lives are unfolding just as it was meant to. Random interactions with people or situations are not random. There was a reason why that person or that opportunity was presented to you in life. If it was not for our personal growth or interest, but quite possibly for the other person(s).
We are born perfect. It is our individual expectations we place upon ourselves that is derived from society, family, culture, etc., that makes us feel inadequate.
Continue to try new things. Continue to journey down paths that you are unsure of where or how it will end. If you find you are not on the correct path, simply turn around. Time was not wasted. The insight and experience you gained along that path is irreplaceable and something you would have never gained without taking the leap of faith.
The Path is the Goal, not the destination.
We all have inner demons to fight, we call these demons, fear and hatred and anger. If you do not conquer them then a life of one hundred years is a tragedy. If you do, then a life of a single day can be a triumph.Ip Man