Weakness. No man likes to be weak, yet we all are. So we just don’t admit to it. We cover it up. And we go to great lengths to do it. At least I do. So I am about as excited writing about it as I am about the case of Shingles on my right butt cheek. But here we go.
About a year ago, I was thinking about what I wanted to accomplish in 2010. The list was long. Finish my first Ironman, kick ass at WONGDOODY, make IdeaMensch famous and have CareerSparx help thousands of recent college graduates start their careers, sell tons of DogPause dog bowls, open a restaurant and write my first book. In addition, it made sense to be a better son, brother, friend and just an all around good and loving human being. Now looking back, I failed at most. And it’s really not all that surprising. One would have to be pretty superhuman to succeed at all of these. Me, I was probably pretty weak and thought that I’ll get strong by trying. That seemed to work out quite ok until about half way through the year. I finished the Ironman, got that jacket I now wear every day, came back to the US and then fell into a deep hole. I was physically injured, wasn’t all that crisp mentally and actually became a bit depressed.
My immediate reaction was that those kind of things happened because I wasn’t doing enough. See when you are training for an Ironman, there is no such thing as a free minute. You go, you go, and then you hit the pillow and you’re out. All the sudden I had free minutes. Free minutes that I didn’t know what to do with. And while I had a long list of ambitions that I could have attended to (see above), my lack of excitement and a slight onset of depression kept me from truly being able to focus on any of them.
My immediate reaction was to just sign up for another Ironman. I probably was just one of those people who needed a million things on his plate in order to function. Unfortunately, I already had 999,999 things on my plate and wasn’t really succeeding at any of them. Hence, it didn’t make a whole lot of sense that adding one more thing would all the sudden turn me into a star performer.
So I did something very uncomfortable. I admitted weakness. Initially not to anyone but myself, which by the way, is much harder. I talked to my boss and asked if I could work part time. I gave away equity holdings in a number of ventures that I was involved with. For the first time in my life, I turned down opportunities. I make much less money now than I did even five years ago. On a personal level, I started sharing what felt like weakness. I would admit to people close to me when something hurt my feelings. I haven’t cried yet but sometimes I wish I could. Physically, my body fully supported my admission of weakness by completely breaking down.
Long runs turned into crazy fevers, peeing blood, visits to urgent care, severe colds and now Shingles. If I ever had to slow down, it was now. If I ever had to look at what mattered in my life and what didn’t, it was now. If I ever had to admit weakness, it was now. So as the year is coming to an end and as I am contemplating what I want to achieve next year, I am going to attempt to be realistic. Realistic about the energy I have. Realistic about the strength I have. And for the first time ever, realistic about the strength I do not have.
Don’t get me wrong, I can achieve ANYTHING I set my mind to. Just not EVERYTHING at once.
Here’s to saying “no” more often in 2011.