It started back in October 6, 2013 when I was inspired while sitting on the bleachers at the Granite Games in St. Cloud to challenge myself to compete. I had diagnosed myself at the time as someone who participated in life, but was not being aggressive about putting myself at the forefront and striving to win in all aspects of life.
Three years later I realized that I was misdiagnosed. The fact is while I may not have been competitive in sports up until that point (beyond high school swim team and golf), I was always putting myself out there and trying new things.
In New York City, a few years out of college, I was on stage performing improve at the Upright Citizens Brigade, the PIT and the Magnet Theater in front of family, friends and strangers. Hell, a clip of me in rehearsal made it onto CBS Sunday Morning as part of a story on the rising scene. Then, in 2008, I moved to Rome, Italy and lived for two years in the land of pasta and the Pope with little trepidation about being in a foreign country and so far from home. And, to some, even crazier was then moving to Minnesota in 2010 where I only knew my sister. Many know that it is a town that upon first arrival Is often cold (figuratively, not literally) and hard to warm up to.
The fact is that I was taking risks, albeit maybe not that dangerous. But what I lacked, and what this whole self-examination of the past three years helped me realize, was the confidence to acknowledge my strengths – a person who is naturally optimistic, who can easily adapt to new environments, who says “yes” to opportunities and who is open to learning and trying and dedicated to constantly improving.
What I felt so often on this blog was me oversharing – especially as I questioned my abilities and own gravitas – was actually my biggest display of confidence. The ability to be vulnerable in front of others is a trait that should not to be diminished. Further, the ability to ask for help is a something to celebrate and not misinterpret as a weakness.
Help often came from the coaches and experts I sought out on nutrition and training. But it also came from the 21 interviews I conducted with athletes across a wide range of sports that I admired. Help also came from friends and family who responded to the blog with encouragement and stories of their own. Many were empathetic and could relate to this struggle with confidence.
Competing was a gateway drug. It forced me to push myself harder. The confidence that was underneath and that had showed itself in moments and phases throughout my life started to bubble to the surface. The fact was that it started popping more frequently, and not just in the gym. I transitioned into a new role at work where I am tasked everyday with being in front of CEOs, board members, decision makers, church leaders, etc. and demonstrating how I add value to their world. I bought my first house and quickly took over as President of the HOA. I became co-chair of the Urban Land Institute’s Young Leaders Group, which puts me in the role of representative who must attend management committee meetings and placed at tables with Mayors and developers and more. I went to CrossFit camp and worked out side by side with Games athletes. I traveled to Nicaragua to hang out for a week with 30 strangers and learned how to surf (and constantly got back up on the board after fall after fall). And even this past September, I journeyed to Iceland and drove around the entire country in a Campervan.
So often people comment on all these various experiences over the past three years saying they could never and can’t imagine and don’t understand. I say this with nothing but humility and as an acknowledgement of the personal growth I have experienced – I think nothing of it. Was it always easy? No. Was it absent of fear, anxiety and nervousness? Of course not. But I am at a place now where I just act. I trust myself, I believe in myself, and I know that my strengths will help me through the most challenging obstacles I will face.
Perhaps this blog has just been a demonstration of the natural path of someone moving from emerging adulthood into full fledged mature adult. But I believe it is more significant than that.
Adulthood does not bring confidence. Neither do mortgage payments and administrative assistants or deadlifts and double-unders.
Confidence comes from within. It comes from experience. It comes from failing over and over but continuing to get back up.
Someone could have told me this three years ago. I’m sure somebody probably did and I’m sure people have been telling me all along. But I needed to go on a walkabout to figure it out for myself.
For those newer to the blog or just reading this for the first time, a “goat” in CrossFit lingo is something you suck at and need to work on. In my very first blog post that I published, I said my goat was competing. I was wrong. My goat was my confidence.
The name of this blog is “Man Meets Goat”. It took me awhile to “meet” my confidence, but now I feel like I have finally have and we are past introductions. I know where I’m going. My training is not complete. I have countless goals inside and outside of the gym that I want to accomplish. But that “goat” I have been carrying around for so long now seems lighter and smaller and not weighing me down.
Confidence can’t be bought or given or even won in a ring. It can, however, be encouraged. Others can help you look for it more closely. And to date, I have so many of you to thank for helping open my eyes along the way. And that support I know remains even going forward. But now it’s time to walk taller, start looking outwards and show myself and the world the strength I possess everyday and encourage others to do the same.