The following is a guest post by Jeffrey Pickett. You can read more about him at jeffreypickett.com
As a child, my father taught me some hard lessons. Sitting down after supper, he’d pull out the chess set and challenge me to a game. The match would usually last about an hour – my father loved to scan the board before making his next big move. I would always try to anticipate his thoughts and move my pieces to where I anticipated his attempts at victory.
Game after game, one thing became apparent in the family household. I never lost to my sister. But every time I played my father, he beat me. Ugh.
Many times I considered asking my father why he never let me win. My mother even suggested it to him once. He smiled and just kept playing.
At first, I thought it was simply his competitive streak or perhaps his pride. But on the day I finally beat him, I learned what he was secretly teaching me the entire time. Life isn’t fair, you need to earn your way, and when you’ve arrived at the victory, it is through your efforts you get there.
Looking back on those days creates a smile on my face. At that young age, I accepted the challenge of chess with my father, even though he beat me 95% of the time. I embraced the opportunity because I realized each time I played him, I learned a little bit more about the game and about how he played.
Embrace the Challenge, Don’t Avoid It
When one embarks on the hero’s journey of life, that initial call to adventure is kinda fun. But when things start to get rough, when conflict and challenge rear their ugly heads, when numerous defeats occur as did with me playing chess, how often do we turn away, avoid or take a different path? What will you learn if you avoid those challenges in your life? What opportunity will you regret not having taken?
My favorite chapter in The Tools: 5 Tools to Help You Find Courage, Creativity, and Willpower–and Inspire You to Live Life in Forward Motion by Phil Stutz, is this powerful concept about fear and challenges.
Instead of staying safe and running from fear, you need to condition yourself to lean into it. How else will you realize your potential? How else can you learn what you are made of?
Here’s the three-step process to lean into your next challenge:
- When a potentially painful experience is about to occur, yell in your mind or out loud – “BRING IT ON!”
- Next say to yourself, “I LOVE PAIN.”
- Finally, repeat to yourself, “PAIN SETS ME FREE.”
After incorporating this into my workouts, I can speak favorably of the results. I indulge in some pretty vigorous workouts. When my coach used to announce workouts, I would cringe. My mind retreated, begging my body to follow. Using this approach from The Tools, I see things differently.
The inevitability of most workouts, races or challenges is some level of discomfort. Instead of making that discomfort your enemy, reverse the feelings and lean in. Bring it on, Pain – I’m ready for you today. As the challenge intensifies, smile because your fears will subside as you remind yourself how you choose to embrace Pain. Then, as the challenge continues, you realize how much you’ll grow in character, strength, etc. – and that is when Pain sets you free. It no longer has control over you.
You climbed to the summit of the mountain and you get to share your story. To quote Kelly Clarkson, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
Embrace the Uncomfortable
Later this month, my wife and I are going on our first wilderness backpacking journey to Arizona. Instead of risking an encounter with a bear, hiking’s mortal enemy, I’m told there is a possibility we’ll encounter a rattlesnake, a scorpion or perhaps a tarantula. With us going in January, the snakes tend to be less lively during the cold season, but I know where I stand already.
Don’t tell my wife, but I hope we encounter all three, especially the rattlesnake.
Before you think I have a death wish, I have no intention of trying to pick up the snake or try to get bit. I welcome the challenge of coming across one because I want to remember the thrill of coming face to face with a rattlesnake and admire its beauty as well as its power in nature.
In the passages of life, we know which challenges are worth the risk. Those that teach a lesson are the most fun and ones we can share with others.
Or teach chess to, just as my father taught me.
Featured image courtesy rockclimberstrainingmanual.com
Jeffrey Pickett is an author, marketer, father, and husband. On his blog he shares his thoughts, experiences, and reflections on starting over in life and how you can as well. He resides in Sioux Falls, South Dakota and is currently writing his third book, a supernatural horror-thriller.
Jeff has created a free e-book called 11 Easy Steps to Starting Over, from which you’ll learn what to do with your fears, how to overcome anxieties and a fool-proof formula for success.This guide includes real-world advice you can incorporate into your life today.