Last month, a man named Tom asked me what I was afraid of. It was an informal conversation. It took place around a fire pit on a back porch in North Carolina. I had met Tom roughly an hour before he posed the question. Several other new acquaintances were present. The question could've been considered inappropriate. A question like that can elicit a very real and sometimes personal response. Tom asked the same question to another man before me. As the conversation moved my direction Tom declared I was under no obligation to answer. We had only known each other an hour and he didn't want to impose. But I insisted. I told him failure. I was afraid of failure. This of course, was a lie.
I am afraid of very little. Ask anyone that knows me well and they’ll tell you there’s not much in this life that scares me. This is evident by my reckless and sometimes life threatening behavior. Over the years I’ve scaled mountain tops, been in high speed chases, evaded capture by law enforcement, jumped from planes and been in gun fights. Usually with a smile on my face. But there are a few things that scare the ever loving shit out of me. Here they are, in order.
1. People thinking poorly of me
4. Almost dropping something
5. Being intruded upon in a public bathroom
Let’s talk about number 5. Michael and I (my business partner) have separated all the duty positions in the gym. We’ve spent time carefully listing the responsibilities of each position. One of the duty positions I fill is facilities maintenance. The door to the men’s bathroom has not had a functioning lock for some time. This has caused friction in the past, but slowly we’ve all grown accustomed to living in constant fear of being caught with our pants down. I should also note, that I have never been in a place where people so frequently open a bathroom door without knocking on it. I attribute this in part to the time sensitive nature of most CrossFit classes.
Last week, in retribution for my lack of performance as facilities manager, Mike busted in on me while I was using the facility. Michael had likely been planning this for some time. He waited until the perfect moment. I had been in the bathroom for 10-15 minutes. I was peacefully concluding my stay when Mike flung the door open, took an aggressive posture in the opening, and screamed at me like a madman. I promptly screamed back, incensed and terrified. The experience was thoroughly traumatic.
Later I thought about why I had been so frightened. When we use the bathroom we’re typically more naked than normal. We’re also preoccupied with our tender parts and usually immersed in the business of using the actual bathroom. From an instinctual standpoint it makes total sense to be on high alert when you’re using the bathroom. I can only imagine how many of our ancestors bit the dust because they were caught off guard by a sabertooth raccoon while using the John.
We’re afraid of the things that make us feel vulnerable. That makes a lot of sense. Let’s refer back to my number 1. I wrongly stated that I was afraid of failure when I was talking to Tom. What I should of said is that I’m afraid of not living up to my potential, and if I would’ve been completely honest, I should've said I’m afraid of people not thinking I’ve lived up to my potential. Even in reading this, you can FEEL that it’s true. It must feel like reading a diary entry or seeing two people kiss intimately at an airport. Almost like something you’re not supposed to have seen or read. Real fears, real feelings, are like that. They’re private, personal things that are difficult to share.
So why bring it up in the first place. Clearly I’d like to do more than make you blush? The reason I bring it up is because the New Year is upon us. Inevitably we’ll all make goals for the New Year. Things we’d like to see, do and accomplish. One of the most common goals people make is to get back in the gym and jump start their fitness. People regularly attending a gym will likely make lofty goals as they continue along their journey to a healthier, happier lifestyle.
To that effect, we’ve started regular goal coaching in the gym. Coaches will reach out to discuss how you’ve been doing in the gym, what your experience has been like thus far, and where you see yourself in the future. It’s easy to treat a goal setting conversation as transactional. We have canned answers ready to give. I want to lose fat. I want to gain muscle. I want to eat cleaner, etc.
My challenge to you is to be vulnerable. Take the time to really think about the things in this life that frighten you, and the steps you can take to relinquish that fear and step into the light of day, unafraid. I’m challenging you to shit with the door open. This is figurative of course. You are not allowed to use the bathroom in our facility with the door open. We will cancel your membership. But I do challenge you to take this seriously. Consider your goals and how you might achieve them. Let us know what they are and see if we can help.
A simple exercise you can do on your own is sit down and envision what your perfect day looks like 10 years from now. Capture it on a single page. Five paragraphs that explain from sunup to sundown what your perfect day looks like. Imagine where you live and what your house looks like. Are you married or single? Do you have a dog? Describe your job and day to day activities. You can focus on whatever you want, but make it clear and concise. Talk about the people, places and things that fill your life.
You might be surprised that your perfect day does not involve private jets or jumping into a pool of gold coins like Scrooge McDuck. Most of us want things so simple. To wake up without an alarm clock, the sun on our face, to run without pain, the soft touch of a lover. These simple, pure and innocuous things that are such an integral part of the human experience. It’s the minutia that makes up our lives. Not the action shots, but things in between the scenes. There’s magic there. That’s where life happens.
Reverse engineer that perfect day. What do you have to do this year to make it happen? What do you have to do in the next five years? The next ten? Make a list and start crossing things off. You’ll get a call from us soon. Keep that marker handy, hopefully we’ll cross some off together.