"Did you think you could do it?" my friend asked, his face earnest.
"What? Finish the race? Yes. I did," glancing at a large purple and green bruise on my left bicep. "But I was nervous about taking the plunge. It's intimidating in a lot of ways."
I was referring to the Rugged Maniac, a 5 kilometer obstacle course/race held at Snow Creek ski area near Weston, Missouri on July 23, 2016. Here's how the Rugged Maniac folks describe it:
Picture this: You arrive at Snow Creek on July 23rd with a carload of your most adventurous friends. As you step out you notice the people around you admiring your group’s coordinated “Avengers-in-bathing-suits” costumes and your on-point Hulk-green body paint. In the festival, people are already riding the mechanical bull and playing beach volleyball (Rugged Maniac is definitely more than just a mud run), but you’re more interested in the stein-hoisting contest on the main stage. You make a note to sign up for that and the pie-eating contest after you run. You see obstacles in the distance – mud-covered people jumping over fire, bouncing on trampolines, rocketing down a huge water slide – and your surging excitement confirms what you already knew: Today is going to be awesome!
"So why did you do it? To win or...?"
I thought a moment, then explained, "Win? No chance. I just wanted to finish it."
"I wanted to do two things: one, prove I could do it, two, to shake things up a little. I was getting stale. Not just physically, either."
So, joining a team of pals from my local gym, 9Round Kickboxing Fitness of Waldo (Sidebar: without the past ten months getting in the best shape of my life at 9Round Waldo, I would NEVER have attempted this) I hit the snow-free slopes in 100-degree heat for more than an hour of running, climbing obstacles, treading water, crawling through mud, squat-walking through tunnels, swinging on rings, jumping over fire and much more. It was hard. Really hard. Days later I'm still terribly bruised and achy.
But you know what? It was fantastic and I want to go again. Why? Because I can, and it reminded me of a different me: a hungrier, more energetic, less risk-averse me.
My friend then told me my eyes were bright when I talked about it, and that I had a more confident bearing since the race. He reminded me that when he texted me after the race and asked "Did you die?" I texted back a photo of me, exhausted at the finish line with the words "And was reborn."
What about you? Are you pushing yourself outside your comfort zone? Are you making it happen in your business by taking risks, jumping through the fire, swinging over the water hazards or climbing under the barbed wire? Or are you playing it safe?
The rewards of safety are many: comfort and fewer negative surprises are at the top of that list. The rewards of risk may get you bruised, but it can also get you to new levels and wake up something inside you--perhaps a "rebirth" to the day you started your business?
Maybe an obstacle race isn't for you. Maybe it's guitar lessons or giving speeches at Toastmasters. Just do something to knock you out of that comfort zone. Push yourself. You may like what you find.
But I like something that ends with a giant water slide, myself. By the way, my friend? He's joining me for my next obstacle race.