” If you want to be tougher mentally, it is simple: be tougher. Don’t meditate on it”
~ Jocko Willink
I love this quote, it’s simple. Don’t think about it, just BE IT! Most of us spend too much time thinking and not enough time doing. We spend more time being bystanders in our own lives and not enough time on the court making a difference in our lives or the lives of others.
I did mean “sell yourself” in the title, not tell yourself. If you’re telling yourself a “reason”, an “excuse” or you’re rationalizing something, you’re selling yourself on it.
(ADDENDUM: I’m going to add this little caveat here. I received feedback from 1 reader who felt it wasn’t enough for me to omit that this wouldn’t apply if you have a health (physical or mental) condition. She felt I needed to state it upfront, and that without doing this my blog message is, “thus, ableist by omission”. So, here I am … stating it …. upfront).
I started today’s blog with the particular quote above because mental toughness played a large part in something I participated in this past weekend.
I started passively hobby “hiking” this past Fall. I say passively because I would hike 10 km, leisurely with my dog, at no particular pace with no particular goal or destination. I just wanted to be in the great wide open. I used quotes around the word hiking because I’m not sure my strolls would be considered hikes.
In mid-January, I came across a post on Facebook. It was seeking participants to trek one of three different distances:
- The Pioneer (10 kms) – takes approximately 2-3 hours to complete, from Riverbluffs Park in Cambridge to The Ken Seiling Waterloo Region Museum.
- The Optimist (28kms) – takes approximately 6-8 hours to complete, from Riverbluffs Park in Cambridge to The Stanley Park Optimist Natural Area in Kitchener.
- The Full Trek (65kms) – takes approximately 20-24 hours to complete, from Riverbluffs Park in Cambridge to The West Montrose Kissing Bridge.
The organizer was Waterloo Region Crossing. In 2018, three members of a female-founded clean technology company trekked for 20 hours non-stop in the dead of winter with the intent of raising awareness of the risks of exposure for homeless citizens, while raising funds for The Working Centre. In 2019, the event was scaled to 100 participants. They completed the journey as a group in 19.5 hours of non-stop trekking and collectively fundraised over $45,000. EVERY DOLLAR went to The Working Centre and is being used to build a first-of-its-kind transitional housing and medical facility to serve the most vulnerable members of the Waterloo Region community.
Now, this is an organization I can get behind, these are my kind of people. People who see a need in the community, find a way to contribute and ACT on it. Not sit there and think about it – they ACTED. And, because they saw what was possible, people around Waterloo Region are better for it and people like me have the opportunity to know themselves as someone they weren’t before. Tessa and Ashley, I have such a huge respect for you, thank you for all you do for our community, and for your passion to make our community a better one.
So, I have the option of three lengths: 10k, 28k, or 65k, which one do you think I chose?
If you chose 65 km of non-stop trekking during the most unforgiving of seasons to explore the impacts of rapid development on our community, you chose correctly!
Now, before signing my friend Miranda and I up for this adventure, remember, I hadn’t walked more than 10 km at a leisurely pace. This was really me showing up as someone who is playing big at life!
A few days before the trek, I started having a bunch of different thoughts flood my mind:
- What did I sign myself up for?
- Should I have opted for the shorter distance?
- What if I’m not able to complete it?
And while I let those thoughts float in, I didn’t let them sit there, they had no place holding space in my mind and quite honestly they didn’t jive with what I was out to accomplish.
My challenge this past year has been to be a BIG, BOLD YES to life. I’m no longer holding myself back for fear of looking bad, of not succeeding!
This was no exception! I could have chosen a shorter distance, one that I likely could have completed and been proud of, and then … I dug deep and went one bit further. As humans we’ll take the “easy out”, the path of least resistance, if we give ourselves the choice (burn your boats, people). So, I opted not to, I really wanted to see what I was made of. And, what I know about me – whom I know myself to be, is that I always achieve everything I set my mind to. I’m not just a yes to life, I’m a HELL YES to life.
Before the trek, I did two practice hikes – one was 14 km, and the other was 19 km, my schedule did not permit me to squeeze any more in.
This year 111 of us participated.
…. I tell you those last few kilometres really mess with your head. The sound bite in my head was something like “I’m so sore, I’m so tired, my feet are barking at me, my lower back feels like it’s going to snap” and the more powerful voice in my head said, “you got this lady, you got this, keep going!”
I did it. I pushed myself to the Covered Bridge in West Montrose and completed what I had set myself out to accomplish (with the help of some super awesome trekkers chatting me up along the way, motivating me). Were there times I wanted to quit? Yep. Were there times when the pain in my hip flexor would have been enough for me to stop? Yep. Could I have stopped at kilometre 45? Yep. And I kept going. I did it anyway.
Without detailing every ache, pain, sore muscle or joint, cold limb, or lower extremity stiffness, I’ll just say that I completed 68.79 km in roughly 17 hours and 25 minutes, as per my UnderArmour App.
I woke up feeling super pumped for having crushed my goal earlier in the morning, and super sore, my muscles totally seized, and it felt great – that’s the price of hard work.
Listen, when I registered, I truly didn’t know if I was going to physically and/or mentally accomplish my goal. I had NEVER trekked this far in all of my life, not even close and I’m not physically active, nor fit. I just said I was going to do it, and I did. I literally did COUCH TO 65 KM in two practice treks. And what I do know for certain is I would never have accomplished it had “I” chosen any other distance other than the 65k.
That brings me full circle to the quote I started my blog off with. The intent of this post isn’t for me to be all braggadocios (although I am proud of myself). This blog is to highlight that you can always be your word, even to yourself. I gave my word to myself that I would get to the finish line (unless I had a medical event stop me). Mental toughness and grit got me there.
My superpower in this instance was stick-to-itiveness. Everyone’s superpower is choice!
I’ll leave you with this quote from one of the participants, Jim who was this year’s Maple Flask Winner – the person throughout the trek who shows leadership and motivates other trekkers.
“The people who made it possible are back to their normal lives. Pretty sure they are not the same. I salute Sydney, Tim, Miranda, Amy, Alina, Tina, Marie, and the others who came out for the training hikes. You made the trek better for everyone else. 𝒴𝑜𝓊 𝒽𝒶𝓋𝑒 𝒹𝑒𝓂𝑜𝓃𝓈𝓉𝓇𝒶𝓉𝑒𝒹 𝒶 𝓁𝑒𝓋𝑒𝓁 𝑜𝒻 𝓉𝑜𝓊𝑔𝒽𝓃𝑒𝓈𝓈 𝓉𝒽𝒶𝓉 𝓂𝒶𝓃𝓎 𝓌𝒾𝓁𝓁 𝓃𝑒𝓋𝑒𝓇 𝓀𝓃𝑜𝓌. 𝒴𝑜𝓊𝓇 𝓅𝑒𝓇𝒻𝑜𝓇𝓂𝒶𝓃𝒸𝑒 𝒽𝒶𝓈 𝓇𝒶𝒾𝓈𝑒𝒹 𝓎𝑜𝓊𝓇 𝑒𝓍𝓅𝑒𝒸𝓉𝒶𝓉𝒾𝑜𝓃𝓈 𝑜𝒻 𝓎𝑜𝓊𝓇𝓈𝑒𝓁𝒻 𝒶𝓃𝒹 𝒽𝒶𝓋𝑒 𝒸𝒶𝓊𝑔𝒽𝓉 𝒶 𝑔𝓁𝒾𝓂𝓅𝓈𝑒 𝑜𝒻 𝓉𝒽𝑒 𝒸𝒶𝓅𝒶𝒷𝒾𝓁𝒾𝓉𝓎 𝓌𝒾𝓉𝒽𝒾𝓃. 𝒪𝓃𝑒 𝒹𝒶𝓎 𝓎𝑜𝓊’𝓁𝓁 𝓇𝑒𝒶𝓁𝒾𝓏𝑒 𝒾𝓉 𝓌𝒶𝓈 𝑜𝓃𝓁𝓎 𝟦𝟢% 𝑜𝒻 𝓌𝒽𝒶𝓉 𝓎𝑜𝓊 𝒸𝒶𝓃 𝓇𝑒𝒶𝓁𝓁𝓎 𝒹𝑜”.
~ Jim Goetz
It’s so true, I have now caught another glimpse of the capability within myself.
One thought on “Be Stronger Than Any Excuse You Sell Yourself!”
I am often afraid of doing some dangerous things. This article is very useful for me for being brave to do anything. Thanks for sharing!