I was pacing the travertine floor back and forth in the foyer of my house. I didn’t have to be there till 9am, but it felt like I was running late — my stomach was tight, I couldn’t focus, I was breathing fast, I felt the need for speed! I needed to move. Finally, I just gave up on waiting for the right time and decided to get there early.
What could have caused all of this nervous energy?
It all started about three months before when my 17-year-old daughter showed up and stood up to be heard in a way that I thought I never could — she went through a 3.5 hour test that pushed her, challenged her, and made her question her emotional, psychological and physical limits only to emerge victorious as a BLACK BELT in Tae Kwon Do. It was inspiring — awe inspiring, so inspiring, in fact, that my husband took up the sport a week later. My 4 year old “tiny tiger” had always wanted to “hi-ya” like her big sister so she was already training, as well.
My answer to that inspirational act on a Friday night in June was to think not act. Think like, ” I am 47 years old!” ” I’ll I can’t do that kind of thing.” I believed that, “People were going to laugh at me, because I would look really silly trying to be something I was not.” “I’ll fail and my daughters would lose all respect for me.” Even with all this going on in my head…
I wanted to do it.
That vision of my daughter getting her black belt wrapped around her waist, after that kind of test, made a huge impression on me. She was someone I wanted to be — someone who could stand up to the pressure and persevere regardless of the obstacles. Someone who was proud, excited, and satisfied with who she is and how she shows up in the world.
I wanted to be her. I wanted that.
But What Would It Take?
I had to think really hard about that. It took about three months of thinking! I finally realized that if I didn’t step up to the challenge of becoming a martial artist —
“If I didn’t step up and participate like the rest of my family, I would not only lose out on sharing this special experience with them, I would regret it for the rest of my life” — Christine Jeffrey Feel free to Tweet it!
I would also never get to live out my fantasy of being “Grasshopper” from the TV show “Kung Fu” either! Seriously, when I was younger, I would go into my bedroom and practice lifting heavy bowls of water with my forearms like he did! Thank goodness they weren’t heated!! But listen, I was 47 years old and I hadn’t really become a martial artist yet. I’d dabble, then quit. I would always tell myself, “Oh, you have plenty of time. You can do it next year.” Well, how many next years did I need before I finally committed to this?
Who did my daughters need me to be? Did I want to show them fear or did I want to show them faith?
So I did what anyone would do when the stakes were high, I walked into the Do Jang at age 47 with nothing, but the fear that if I didn’t at least try, I would miss out on something that could potentially be a highlight of my life and the fear that if I wasn’t brave enough to try, how could I encourage my daughters to be brave when they needed it?
But ya know, the Universe has a way of really testing your resolve, because that first day was “Field Trip Day” at NFMA — and that is not to be confused with “Leg Day.”
Miss Shari had scheduled a training class at the fort: We were to walk, jog, or run to the fort. Do lunges up and down the hill, practice kicking combinations on the grass as well as forms and then finish with concentration kicks on the wall. If you know about training, you’d readily see this was a serious class with a serious focus on conditioning and execution. If I wanted to play, I had to drive home, get my tennis shoes and come back — lucky for me I lived only 5 minutes away, and lucky for me, I had fully committed to trying the class. I had told my husband and daughters that I was going, and I just couldn’t tell them that I didn’t go. It was a point of honor for me now — I was resolute and resolved to finish this day as I intended.
So I did it!! I went back home and got my tennis shoes, jogged to the fort, and did as much of the class as I could – however – the the lunges up the hill got the best of me and I had to sit down rubbing the backs of my legs! But for the rest of the class, I got to watch these athletes – of all different ages and skill levels – complete their training with joy, focus and resolve! And Miss Shari was right there with them cheering them on. I would never forget the feeling I had – the feeling that screamed: “I am going to BE THAT!!”
And I was well on my way. I just didn’t care, anymore, about how I looked or what people thought. I felt I was meant to do this and I felt more alive than I had been in a long time.
No, the test as in a belt promotion. My resolve was tested. My committment was tested and I had to decide once and for all who I was going to be.
About 7 months into my training, I completely shredded my ACL- there was nothing left — in a sparring match. I thought that I could just get it fixed and move on. I was in flow, you know. I was in momentum, but a few days after the surgery, they had to use an electrical stimulator to get my quad muscles to wake up. Trying to move that leg was like trying to lift a 50 pound weight with one toe.
The disappointment crushed me. I just hadn’t expected the pain, the struggle, or the need to control my despair. But there was more — right? There always seems to be more when you struggle like this. Physical therapy was next. It wasn’t only the physical gauntlet Ryan ‘The Soul Crusher’ Hemelt put me through, it was the mental toughness that I had to develop to succeed.
That first day back to training, after 9 months off, was truly humbling. I had to relearn everything. But in relearning everything, and with the constant support of my family, my peers, and through the inspiring example of Miss Shari — who had also come back from a serious injury — I learned the one lesson that keeps me moving forward every time things get tough:
“You are getting better and better every single day, and when that is your measurement, you can’t lose” — Christine Jeffrey Share it!
But even beyond that, I didn’t quit, because by then, indomitable spirit had become my friend.
Indomitable spirit says quietly and simply,
“I will win in the end, because I can figure it out.”
Now, I am mentally, emotionally, and physically prepared for any challenge I face. I just continue to modify based on results, and eventually, I win.
I don’t freak out like I used to anymore. I don’t worry so much about when I will finish something or what other people will say, or will think of me. I just trust that by getting better and better each day, and by following my heart, I will get where I want to go and be who I want to be.
It takes courage to live a self-directed and heart centered life. The way I went from scared to prepared is in three easy steps that you can also apply to your own life.
YOU ARE JUST THREE STEPS AWAY
- Get Leverage — How miserable will you be if you don’t step up and do it? What will you miss out on? Who will you let down? Who needs you to be your best self? When you get leverage on yourself, you will find the courage to take that step.
- Commit — Fully commit to learning what you need to learn to be good at it! It doesn’t matter what “it” is. Commitment means there is no other path but forward.
- Practice – You do the work. You modify as necessary. You keep going.
That is it! That is how I went from scared to prepared. The three steps are easy, however, the execution can be difficult. Why? Because you have to manage your mind, your body, and your spirit in service to achieving your goal.
That takes courage, energy, clarity, producivity, and influence on a consistent basis and that is what high-performers do better than anyone else.
But, lucky for you, you know a friendly neighborhood Certified High Performance Coach who wants to help you reach the next level of fulfillment and happiness!
Thanks for reading.
Leave a comment. Ask a question. I’m here to help!
Remember you are so much more than who you believe yourself to be!
PS. Here’s me as a blackbelt after we tested as a family and won!