I had a really interesting conversation with a friend yesterday about how she felt during her triathlon last weekend. She was describing how shitty she felt during it and how she was basically plotting and planning how she could pull out almost all the way through it.
Three things struck me as interesting about this conversation. The first one was, how there’s two parts to anything we do in life. How we feel. And what we achieve. And it occurred to me that the difficult stuff rarely feels all that good while we’re doing it. Because, you know, it’s difficult! Which is also why it’s so damn satisfying when we push on and achieve those things.
As they say, if it was easy, everyone would do it. What they don’t say is, then it wouldn’t be anywhere near as satisfying. And it’s probably not coincidence that some of the most important things in life, along with some of the most satisfying, are difficult. Which is why it’s critical we have people who don’t mind feeling like shit so that we have people to do those important things.
The second thing was that if you do feel good during some of these things, it probably means you’re really not giving it your absolute best. I suppose that could vary depending on what we’re talking about, but it’s certainly true for things that require physical exertion. If you feel like hell at the end, it’s probably a sign you truly gave it everything you’ve got on the day. And if that’s the case, you can be pretty happy knowing you did your best with what you had in the tank on that particular day. If you got to the end and felt good, you probably left a bit in the tank. So feeling shit, should actually feel pretty damn satisfying.
And finally, great people don’t quit. Even if they have a bit of a sook afterwards about how difficult it was, great people don’t give up until they’ve achieved what they set out to do. They might feel like shit at the time, but keep their eye on the bigger picture, and keep going. Until they get the job done. And that’s pretty awesome.
Courtesy of modern technology, we find ourselves in the position where we can avoid all sorts of discomfort these days. Many of us are fortunate enough to have a roof over our head, food in the cupboard, and information, air conditioning and communication at our finger tips. For the average first world person, being physically uncomfortable actually requires a bit of effort. So it’s little wonder people are now so very uncomfortable being uncomfortable.
And why it’s actually really important we go out and find ways to be uncomfortable, and then find ways to cope with, and even push through that discomfort. Because that’s how we build the toughness we need to be capable of doing truly awesome things. Whatever those things may be for you. Even if, sometimes, that’s just getting through the day.
So get uncomfortable, get out of that comfort zone, and get going being everything you can be.
PS And yep, that picture is of me, a little out of my comfort zone, after a trail race in 2016.