How Big Is Your Brave?

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Last week, my friend mentioned Alexi Pappas – fellow Dartmouth alum and current professional runner – to me. Reading through some of Alexi’s articles and poetry (which by the way are awesome and you should check out!), a theme emerged: bravery.

After reading some of her pieces yesterday morning, I headed out to do a swim that I was admittedly dreading a bit. I knew it would be challenging; I knew it was designed to find and test my limit. And right at the point where my mind began to insist, “I can't do it!” I remembered a quote from Alexi about running that struck me: “I have to choose to be strong.” I thought about the gap that opened between the main pack and myself two weeks back at Punta Guilarte, a gap I'm determined to eliminate between now and the 2016 season. And I pushed through the point when I had thought I couldn’t push anymore.

Coach is often saying that we always have a choice. We are no longer allowed to say, “my elbow keeps dropping” or “I can’t hit my splits.” He’ll correct us, “You mean, you keep choosing to drop your elbow” and “choosing not to hit your splits.” It really changes the sense of the phrases, don’t you think?

So often I feel like the conversation revolves around being “fearless,” both in sports and in other realms. But is fear really a bad thing?

Reflecting in the shower after my swim (where I do all of my greatest thinking!), I had to wonder if in fact it is fear that actually makes us stronger? I think so. It’s those moments when we force ourselves to push through that discomfort - and at times, paralysis - when we grow. It could be giving a presentation to senior leaders at your company, accepting a stretch project you’re not sure you currently have all the skills for, picking up the phone to make a cold call to a potential customer, tying up your running shoes and stepping out the door when you can't fathom running even a mile, or striving to execute a workout that you’ve been doing for years at a pace faster than you’ve ever gone before.

If we were fearless, we’d never have the opportunity to be brave.  Without the chance to be brave, we would lose the opportunity to grow!

My challenge to myself, and to you: face each fear and use it to become stronger. See just how brave you can be!