The unthinkable happened this year at my Death Valley AdventureCORPS Badwater 135-mile Ultramarathon (www.Badwater.com) - I did not finish. I failed. I didn't complete what I set out to do. I came in last place (96th out of 96 - visit the above link to see for yourself). What I had done successfully on six prior occasions in a row did not materialize this year. If you guessed my finish time, there was none.
Kryptonite introduced itself for the first time...
My heart was broken. The pain tried to pierce my spirit, attempting to break that too. How could this happen to Midas! - or so I thought.
What happened? What can you learn from my failure? It's difficult to write on such a foreign subject. Here's what I have to share...
When undertaking a significant change or challenge in life we confront two inevitables; risk and fear.
We first enter what I refer to as the "contemplation stage," where we begin to think about making a significant change in our life or consider taking on a big challenge. The first realization we must arrive at is the fact that any significant change or challenge must involve embracing some form of risk. Now, these changes or challenges can be physical (like my Death Valley race), spiritual, relational, financial, emotional, etc.
Almost immediately upon identifying the significant change or challenge the second inevitable strikes: fear. We feel afraid not of the change or challenge, but of the risk associated with them. Philosopher Anthony DeMello said; "We've been taught our whole life that we are afraid of the unknown. How can we fear something we don't know? What we are afraid of is leaving the known."
So, leaving the known in our lives for all that is unknown about our significant change or challenge is what causes us to feel fear. And that fear should be seen as good! Why? Because it signals that we are about to undertake something that will leave our life forever improved, regardless of success or failure.
Significant Change/Challenge (SCC) = Risk = Fear.
To give ourselves the greatest chance at succeeding with our SCC we must recognize and welcome the fear associated with the risk, otherwise we either will never even begin the endeavor because we are too afraid (most common) or we will repeatedly fail.
In my prior six successful Death Valley AdventureCORPS Badwater 135-mile Ultrmarathons I knew I had to feel the fear associated with the risk, and prepare the mind and body for the seemingly insurmountable, incomprehensible and impossible undertaking that lie ahead (135 non-stop miles in 125-degree heat in under 48 hours).
If the body would respond to the training, the strengthening of the mind would follow. This repeated confidence-building cycle can leave us hyper-prepared, and give us the best chance at success. Kryptonite stands no chance here!
But what happens when one element starts to break down? This, I believe, is what happened to me this year. See how it could apply to your SCC...
As I look back, during the latter part of my training my focus and devotion would wane. It's not that I hit the "snooze button" some mornings, I still forced myself to get out there, but the body was not responding to the rigors as I expected. In fact, it was starting to break down well before the start of the race.
Now, don't get me wrong, not all training always goes well, even in preparation where the result is a success. But the synchronization between mind and body was beginning to short circuit. At the time, I really wasn't aware of the misfire until it was too late.
The body's lack of the superior condition needed to finish the grueling test of human will, my 7th Death Valley race, led to the mind's deterioration of confidence. Negative self-talk was subliminally poisoning all good. The opposite of the confidence-building cycle began to metastasize. Kryptonite snuck in, began a confidence-destroying cycle, and at mile 27 of my 135-mile race the body shut down the mind, and I was done.
The joy of my 6 prior finishes was replaced with hurt and embarrassment.
How can we avoid failing in the pursuit of our Significant Change or Challenge?
Guess what; sometimes we can't, as was the case with me this year. And here is where I am supposed to say "and it's OK."
I'm not going to say that. What I will offer is this; failure, once complete is to be accepted, but allowing failure as a mindset cannot be accepted. Finishing and succeeding can become a habit. We don't want to make DNFing (Did Not Finish) and failing to become one also. They cannot co-exist.
With the experience of failure behind us, we can learn early on to recognize the signs of the confidence-destroying cycle and look to stop the spiral. In my case, had I taken a couple of weeks off from training to allow the body and thus the mind to properly heal, I may have hit the "reset" button, and began the confidence-building cycle once again. I didn't do this.
What am I going to do about my specific failure?
It's far too early to tell. That is ultimately in God's hands, and I will allow him to guide me. I often say "to have success one must obsess." One of the first things I did was to temporarily remove reminders of the obsession that lead to the successes in order to allow time to work its magic.
I had taken down all of my finisher's medals, race numbers and coveted belt buckles from Badwater ( I have since replaced them). I voided my shelves of all my running water bottles and supplements (also, have been replaced).
I didn't want to focus on the Badwater successes or the failure until passion meets desire again. That is an evolutionary process that can become quite revolutionary when the collision takes place!
The more important questions is; what are you going to do in the pursuit of your Significant Change or Challenge and in your desire to avoid failing?
P.S. If you donated to our Caring House Project Foundation in support of my race and would like a refund, please let me know, and we will process it immediately. If you would still like to donate, you can do so below:
If you would prefer not to donate online, you can mail your donation to Caring House Project Foundation, P.O. Box 388 Boynton Beach, FL 33425. Or call Nilsa at 561.722.3950 and make your donation over the phone.
Donate $1 for every mile I was supposed to finish of my 2012 Death Valley race, or $135. I ask that you help those who can't help themselves. Please consider more than "1" in the quantity box if donating online. For every $135 you donate you will provide 1,350 meals for the most desperately poor and homeless in Haiti.
Donate $10 for every mile, or $1,350. Should you choose this option you will have built 1/2 of a concrete home in Haiti. Talk about "ROD" - Return On Donation!
Donate $30 for every mile, or $4,050. This donation will have a huge impact in Haiti. You will have built one brand new concrete home for a family of 8 who were living in a mud or cardboard shack. Your home will have 2 rooms, kitchen, front porch and bathroom. PLUS you will provide 13,500 meals! The ultimate donation for the ultimate race!
To see a short, brand new YouTube video showing what Caring House Project Foundation is doing in Haiti click here: http://youtu.be/7fY4nFM8dvg.
Here's to banishing your Kryptonite,
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