In early November, I made what has alternately felt like the best and worst decision of my life.
Iron Octopus Fitness had been in business for a year and I had the help of an amazing mentor and business coach to help me build it up in that time. However, the time with my mentor was coming to an end and I had to decide if I wanted to fly solo or find someone else that would push me to continue to grow.
I decided to level up.
There was a very clear moment in which I took a deliberate step away from my comfort zone. I leaped out of my small, kind of lonely pond into an ocean of bigger, brighter, and more experienced fish. And it scared the fuck out of me.
I’ve been drowning in this new ocean.
We all know the feeling, I’m sure. That you bit off a little more than you could chew. That you walked a little too far into the deep end. That you flew a little too close to the sun. And now you’re slowly getting buried by all the newness that it takes to exist outside of your comfort zone.
Like the proverbial frog getting slowly boiled alive, I hadn’t really realized that I was drowning. More importantly, that I was letting myself drown.
But, the universe has a way of forcing you to face your struggles even when you don’t know that you’re having them. My slap in the face came in the form of an email.
A couple weeks ago, while I was quite busily drowning, I got an amazing email from a roller derby skater that wants to take up coaching since she suffered a career-ending back injury. (Bittersweet, right?)
She talked about all of the huge action steps she was taking. She was committed to studying the game so she knew WHAT to coach. She was working hard to figure out HOW to coach. And she was seeking advice from all sectors, hence the email.
She was excited and empowered. It was rad to see. But…
Her email ended with her talking about the fact that no matter how much work she put in, no matter how much time she spent, no matter how much she learned and grew, the people she coached would never take her seriously.
“It feels like they’re always judging me,” she said.
I took a deep breath (as though I were actually talking to her) in order to have enough air to say all of the things I thought that she needed to hear:
- Oh honey, that’s all in your head.
- What you think about yourself is your problem. What others think about you is their problem.
- Some of the best coaches in the world were far from the best athletes. And some of the best athletes make terrible coaches.
- Fuck the haters!
The truth is, she didn’t need to hear any of that because she was already DOING.
One of my business coaches is fond of saying “the person that has earned the right to do something is the person doing it.” Through action, we become more comfortable and more confident. Through action, we become what we assume we aren’t.
In the case of this person, she’s *becoming* a coach. Every single step she takes in her action plan makes her a better one and she doesn’t need my platitudes to help her.
She’s swimming. Even in a deep and fathomless ocean, she’s swimming.
While I’m letting myself drown.
Since I started this new coaching program and jumped into this ocean of bigger, brighter fish, I haven’t been swimming. I’ve been letting my fear of this new, larger, more challenging task paralyze me.
Stepping out of your comfort zone sucks. You will, almost inevitably, feel like you don’t deserve to be doing whatever it is you’re doing. Or you don’t deserve to be stepping up to the next level of yourself.
But this feeling of discomfort also signals that you’re doing something larger than your old self. You don’t become comfortable in a new city by staying at home. You have to go out, explore, get a little dirty, and (most of all) keep moving.
So recently, instead of drowning, I started swimming. It’s a pretty sloppy version of the doggie paddle, but it’s better than nothing.
The new year is a time when people make promises to themselves that require some degree of “leveling up”. The sheer weight of those goals can be enough to keep you from reaching them.
The solution is actually pretty simple: Don’t make resolutions, make plans. Plans can be broken down into easily digestible bites. I mean, that’s how you eat an elephant, right? One bite at a time.
For me, this year, my goal is to grow Iron Octopus Fitness. I’m not sure what that looks like yet, but I’m taking steps to make it happen. Baby steps, but steps nonetheless.
For my email writer, it’s becoming a better coach. She’s having coffee with officials to learn the rules better. She’s scouring the internet for drills and coaching advice. She emailed me.
What is it for you?
What’s something you felt scared of doing? What have you taken on that’s made you feel uncomfortable? How are you going to action your way out of it?
As a very wise fish once said, “Just keep swimming.”
I canmist definitely empathize with the sender of this email. I’m actually here, years after this post scouring your archives for data, drills, & experiences to help me be a better coach. My first full season as head coach is coming and I’m feeling the pressure. I’ve partnered with officials to understand the rules better and am doing everything I can to be the best coach I can be for our league. Thank you for sharing this experience and all you have to offer.
You’re welcome! You will make an amazing coach because you’re taking the action to learn and grow. You’ve got this!