Tag Archives: acceptance

The Need for Challenge vs. Acceptance of “Reality”

For as long as I can remember, I need a challenge in order to truly bring out the best in myself. Lacking that feels like I’m in a rut or back on my heels in some horribly passive limbo. It’s not a great feeling at all. Perhaps I can explain better by way of example.

My freshman year of high school, I was in English class and doing OK at it, but something was missing. I couldn’t quite put my finger on what exactly it was, but something didn’t seem totally right to me. I came into high school with the very well-intentioned advice from my middle school guidance counselors ringing in my ears to not get in over my head by taking some (but not all) honors classes.

Well, this English class was one step down from honors and it hit me one day: I was bored out of my mind. As a kid who knocked out the Lord of the Rings trilogy in 5th grade, I needed more. I needed to get pushed. So after a few months, I switched to honors… and my grades actually went up. Funny how that works.

I don’t think I ever really lost this trait of needing to see what I could do or where I could take myself. Hell, if I find myself feeling blah or in a rut, this is the most-likely culprit.

With that in mind, I’ve been watching a lot of the World Cup… and sometime during the multitude of matches I watched, the soccer itch crept back into my life. Not surprising either. See, I love weight training, Prowler pushes, golf and all the other physical shenanigans I get myself involved in these days, but the thing they don’t provide me is head-to-head competition in a team environment.

Oh sure, you can play in golf scrambles and teams from various gyms will compete together in a Crossfit competition or powerlifting meet… but there is something about a collective whole being greater than the sum of its parts as it faces over against (hopefully) equally-matched competition. It’s one of my favorite athletic highs. You and your teammates staring down an opponent on the field and launching yourself into the game with an unspoken “Get some…” amongst all of you.

But lest you think it’s only about my wanting to hang out with peeps and knock heads against our foe, there is another challenge in the midst of all of this:

The reality that… one day… playing these kinds of sports at a healthy level of competition will pass me by, never to return.

At age 41, I’m sure a lot of people would think playing soccer against 25 year old punks who played in college might be a silly endeavor. Hell, maybe it’s exactly that.

HOWEVER… and yeah, I just all-capped that business right there… the process of working towards being ready to play against competition younger, faster and more skilled is something I actually enjoy. The challenge isn’t just the being on the field and playing. The challenge that may be just as satisfying is what I need to do to myself ready in the first place.

Hence, in an 85 degree gym, I got at it:

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Even more interesting was as spent as I was at the end? A few minutes later, all smiles and feeling good. Because I pushed hard. Because I kept going. Because I took steps towards getting my 41 year old, incredibly good-looking self ready to run down 24 younger punks on crisp Fall mornings.

If you feel an inevitable creeping rut or, worse yet, you are looking up from the bottom of rut and wondering how the hell you got there… find your challenge. That thing that will get you fired up and the blood moving. Physical. Mental. Spiritual. Whatever venue that calls unto you most strongly.

Just get to it. Get at it. And feel that bit of victory for your soul that will follow from a good, determined fight. You’re worth at least that and likely much more.

Mother May I?

There can really be a lot of gates in this world.  Just a variety of places where you need to stop, seek out permission/validation/approval before you can really do… well… anything.  It’s not exactly the kind of thing that inspires you to go bigger, reach higher and do tremendously amazing things, is it?

In some cases, the world of permission is just an inherent and unavoidable part of life.  I think of life in the corporate world that I know oh-so-very-well.  My workaday life is filled with policies and permission and forms and approvals processes.  You cannot do what I do (company ethics officer) and avoid that in any way… and honestly, you shouldn’t avoid it anyway.  Can it feeling limiting to people at times?  Of course it can, but it’s just a fact of big corporate life that one needs to accept and move on from.  It’s part of the understanding of being in Corporate America and if it’s something that causes you such an enormous amount of heartburn and stress, you will probably need to find a workplace more conducive to your style at some point, because I don’t see it all changing anytime soon.

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Ahh… but what about the life outside of work?  You know, that area in our personal lives where… in theory at least… we finally have the chance to freely choose what we do, where we go, what we read, with whom we associate and so on.  What about there?  Surely within the bounds of the law we must be unfettered in our ability to make our decisions, no?

If only.

Whether due to religious/social/family norms, we do still tend to live a lot according to the wishes of others.  Some of this is just lubricant to keep the gears of the relationship machine running smoothly.  Oh, you know what I mean.  The dinner you go to with your in-laws even though you would rather be home, feet up and soaking up a massive college football showdown in the SEC.  The helping a friend to move into a 3rd story walk-up.  It’s a lot of little things like this where you need to do someone a solid… but truth be told, you would probably like to do something else entirely.

But what about beyond that?  Are we limiting ourselves from things that would honestly make us happy because we worry too often what “others” (however it needs to be defined for the situation in question) will think?

Oh believe me, I do this as well, but I am getting just a tiny bit better about it all the time.  I still care (more than I probably should) what my parents may think about certain things I want to do or whether my friends or colleagues might find something I enjoy odd (pushing a Prowler in the snow, anyone?).2009-12-31 11.50.16

But damn… the more I move away from caring about a lot of the minutiae about who might… GASP!… judge me poorly and more about whether something will add a positive to my life… darn it all if I don’t end up being happier.  In a way, one method I can use to spot areas where I might find more happiness is listing out things that my friends and family might look askance at.  Chances are there are more than a few perfect nuggets in that list of things I darn well should be doing.

So take that as a little exercise for yourself as well.  Don’t alienate your loved ones just for the sake of being a complete jerkweed.  No one likes that guy and he’s just a completely ponderous fool (and we all know at least one of these dudes).

Find your Prowler in the snow.  Push the hell out of it.  And revel a little more in the fact that while no one else gets it… you love it.