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When Doing What You Hate Makes You A Better Person

I just got back from 8 days in paradise. Our family has a 100-year old cabin in Desolation Wilderness built by my husband’s great grandfather; It’s rustic and simple and has no cell reception. It has no TV and no central heating. We hike into the mountains, make nightly fires, swim in the alpine lakes, and eat dinner on the deck with just the sky, the trees, and the sound of streams running and birds chirping and chipmunks scuttling among the rocks.

Now that I'm a mom, vacation is about THEM. Watching my 4-year old climb for 2 hours on the steepest mountain trail, watching my two daughters invent games with sticks and rocks and pine cones, teaching them how to catch and release crawdads from hand-made fishing poles, seeing them play in the same stream their dad and grandfather grew up playing in.

It’s heaven.

While I was on vacation, I didn't work for a second, but I did carve out some ‘me’ time; and for me, 'me' time means more than just relaxation, it also means doing something that makes me uncomfortable. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a masochist, I'm no adrenaline junkie, and I don't think pleasure is something to avoid. I just know I'm a better human when I challenge myself.

If you’ve been reading my newsletter, you know I’ve had an aversion to swimming in cold water. SO, since my time was limited, I wanted to make it count. So, I did the thing I hate: I swam in really cold water.

In the Mindset Coach Academy, we always choose to face something that's really hard for us to do. We do this to challenge ourselves to live what we teach. 

Why?

As Mindset Coaches, we need to SEEK OUT CHALLENGES. Anytime we face something that makes us uncomfortable, we shed a light on the spaces in our life where we can grow. 

Is it easier to stay in the cabin and drink coffee and stare at the lake? Of course it is (and trust me, I did that too). But I also took the time to push myself, because THAT IS WHAT WE DO. That's what we HAVE to do as Mindset Coaches to really live what we teach.

I know firsthand that when I challenge myself, I grow... and often in ways I can't predict.

It turns out, I absolutely LOVE swimming in cold, open water now. It might take me 15 minutes to get in, I may not be able to breathe adequately for the first 10 minutes, but it makes me feel ALIVE. Cold water swimming actually brings me joy.

And it bring me joy BECAUSE it's a challenge. The water is between 60-65 degrees; when you get in, your lungs restrict (did I mention it’s at 6000 feet altitude also?) and soon you cannot feel your body. Putting my head in takes a good 5 minutes, and every part of my brain is screaming at me to STOP. I also think irrationally about sharks (Yes, I DO know it’s a lake) and about things touching me, and since I can’t breathe, I think a lot about not being able to breathe.

But then I let go. I take it one breath at a time, I am present.  And then this calm and (dare I say) warmth starts to surround me and with every breath I feel stronger and stronger. Every time I look up, I’m reminded that I AM POWERFUL beyond belief.

We ALL have our areas of growth. Cold water is just one of mine, I have plenty of others that are just waiting for me to seek them out.  And at the end of the day, it’s a rather useless skill to be able to swim in cold water. 

What is most important is the act of SEEKING out challenges, Finding the things that make us uncomfortable, standing up, and saying, "I am stronger than this challenge."

Because if we don’t, we atrophy. We can't just sit on our thrones, tell others to push themselves, quote Carol Dweck, and remind those around us to not be too comfortable... as we drink a beer.

I know I'm not alone. I see it so often in my MCA students. They are ATHLETES at their core. Their true essence is to be disciplined, to push themselves in new ways, to grow physically stronger in some respect. And yet they haven’t for a while. And they don’t like that part of them that allowed that to happen. Their confidence in themselves has eroded, they maybe even feel like a fraud, they feel disconnected to their true essence.

But like anything, all it takes to get on track is to begin with a single act, to accept and conquer a challenge that scares them. Exercising that muscle makes it easier to tackle the next challenge and the next, and pretty soon it becomes second nature and we begin to grow... exponentially. 

Exercising self-discipline and stepping up to the plate brings you closer to your full potential, connected to who you really are, and an example of someone who gets up off the sidelines and really LIVES. And that's who I want to be; a person that pushes herself, practices what she preaches, seeks out challenges, and pushes through the discomfort to earn a 'next level me'

I know you want to be that person too.

When I get out of the water of that alpine lake, I am renewed. I am stronger than when I got in; and my students do the same when they take action toward a thing that scares them. 

But don't take my word for it. This week, what will you do to take action and conquer your fear? 

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