November 13. “It is impossible to win the race unless you venture to run, impossible to win the victory unless you dare to battle.” (Richard M. DeVos)
Unless I “venture” to run, unless I “dare” to battle. Two interesting words to use in this quote. To win the race, or to seal the victory I must first take the daring, adventurous step of getting involved. Nothing was ever won by sitting on the sidelines. If I want to succeed, achieve, and win, I must enter into the contest. I must put myself into things.
I like to think of myself as a person who always puts myself into things, as a person who jumps right in and plays the game. This morning I was struggling with this quote, and I talked to my wife about it. I didn’t tell her any of my thoughts, only that I was struggling a bit. As she was completing a Scrabble game on her iPad she almost absently said that I should write about how I sometimes resist getting in the game.
I was a bit flabbergasted at that thought. Here I’d been sitting at my desk thinking that I didn’t have anything to write because I am such a go-getter that always jumps right in. But there she was, messing up my perfectly good self-illusion with facts.
The truth is that once I do get into the game, I am all in. When I decided to lose weight, I got in with both feet and went for it. When we decided to take on some home improvement projects, I attacked them with gusto. I definitely ventured and I definitely dared.
But, the other truth is that I am very picky about what games I enter. Typically I am cautious and only will put myself out there if there is a high probability that I will succeed. Yes, I am in the game, but I am not really being all that adventurous or daring. That’s been my pattern through my adult life. I once had a boss, at my performance review, tell me that I was risk averse. She said I didn’t stretch myself enough. Again, I was pretty flabbergasted because I thought I’d had a good year of delivery for her. She agreed that I’d delivered well on what I had on my plate, but that I didn’t sufficiently stretch myself to put myself above the crowd.
I don’t like failing. I don’t like the feeling of having stretched myself so far that I don’t achieve. I know that when I do stretch myself, I usually fair well. That’s the rational part of my brain talking. But the irrational brain wins out all too frequently. That part of my brain reminds me of things like embarrassment and feeling low from not reaching the target.
I really think it is the irrational part of my brain (along with a lot of other factors), that kept me morbidly obese for so long. I had myself convinced that I couldn’t do it, that I would fail. Thirty-six weeks into my current journey, it is evident that I was wrong about that.
The same can be said for tackling home improvement projects. For years I have told people how inept I am at them. I am all thumbs, I can’t measure or cut straight, I don’t paint well, and on and on. Then, this Fall, we took on a few projects. I decided that I was going to get them done, and by God, we got them done. I made mistakes, I stepped incorrectly a few times, but at the end we stood and marveled at what we accomplished together.
So, why do I let the irrational brain win so often? Why do I only venture and dare with great caution – which isn’t venturing and daring at all?
Today my reflection is on my own, personal risk taking. Today I am reflecting on how infrequently I do put myself out there and try things that are truly outside my comfort zone.