About 15 years ago, I read a book that talked about the importance of having a life motto and putting it in your office where you can see it everyday. I thought that was a neat idea and after two weeks, I finally came up with the phrase that embraced my life and continues to inspire me to this day: "If it's not a challenge, it's not worth doing." But I wasn't always this way. I had a great leader in my life that mentored me even when he didn't know I was listening and watching.
My brother was that big influence in my life. As we grew up in the "sticks and cornfields" of north central Illinois, he always pushed me to do more than I thought I could. I remember receiving repelling gear from him for Christmas one year. "What can you do with repelling gear in flatland Illinois?" I thought. We decided to repel out of a 70-foot oak tree. We tied the rope to the branch we were standing on and had a free fall for the first 5 feet until the rope caught up. What an exhilarating ride! It took my breath away.
In this experience, I had to trust my brother and the equipment. I knew the equipment was new and I knew without a doubt that my brother loved me dearly and that he wouldn't put me in a situation that would hurt me. ( Or at least he wouldn't intentionally do so, but that is another tree climbing story.) He set the example and did it first, but he was right there next to me, encouraging me that the reward was too great not to do it. Repelling out of that tree was challenging, scary and it took heart to do it, but the reward I felt after I accomplished it made me want to climb as fast as I could back up that tree to do it again. My brother and I had many adventures in my life and each one made me grow to love him and trust him more. I am so grateful that I had him to challenge me to know who I thought I was and that I was able to accomplish more than I thought I could.
I reflect back on those times when I embraced challenges that would later help me to overcome the challenges ahead in my life. I am sure you have had challenges in your life. Take time right now to reflect back on them and remember who helped you through them. It may have been a 5K or a marathon. It may have been a degree you earned or a personal loss that you overcame. Remember the feeling you had when you reached that point of finality. I encourage you to use that in two ways: first, thank those people who influenced you in amazing ways during those challenging times; and second, think about that amazing feeling you had when you completed the challenge. Use those memories to inspire you to take on the next challenge in your life, to dig deep within your heart and allow it to inspire action.