The best salespeople on the planet are Fear and Doubt. And today, as I found myself getting lost nervously making my way to keep a long overdue promise, both were eagerly and loudly making their pitches.
Fear and Doubt have closed many deals with me. They are relentless, they know my soft spots. They refine their game time after time and speak an intimate, cunning language that no one else would ever hear and that I would never let leave my own lips towards another person.
We all play that game within our inner dialogue. Especially as I finally arrived at my destination with my heart thumping and fingers searing into the steering wheel. ‘I made a promise.’ Madam Fear whispered, ‘but I said one day 5 years ago, it doesn’t have to be today. I can do it next year when things settle down’.
And Holy penguin poppers Batman, did I want to wait until next year. The temptation was seductive, suddenly seeing a flash of changing my plans to asking Scott if we wanted to go out for an early dinner and movies. Everything has been so full on. We need a family night.
I turned off the car. Pulled my key out. Took a deep breath. Begging Courage to step in and move the others on their way. Nothing came. So, I just moved my body into blind action. I’m here. Just get it over with. It’s 1 hour. Open the door; Feet out the door. Arnold Schwarzenegger once said “Don’t even think about it, just do it. Don’t listen to what you have to do in your mind just do it and get it over with”.
Feet out of the car. Touching the concrete. Don’t look inside yet. Ignore the pounding in my chest. Lock the car. Don’t look yet. Keys in my bag. NOW WALK.
For the longest 5 seconds of my life I squeezed my terrified eyes shut before I could look into what waited in front of me and yanked that memory right to the front of my mind.
It was Saturday, 31st of October 2015. I was painting Thunders Sith face for the Halloween party we were about to go to, my little brother sitting next to me, insisting. Pushing. Demanding. In his loving, inspirational and very convincing brotherly way. We had both started indulging in old, unhealthy habits again after sharing years of fitness, comparing diets and training variations and cheering each other on in our very different adventures. He had made it, building his own Powersports Gym and then on stage to his body building comp. I had completed 4 Tough Mudders and many other endurance races. And then we celebrated. Far too much! But unlike me, Kris gave himself boundaries around slipping and time limits. I just kind of flailed about a bit, cursed my knees when I’d try to run every now and then and loathe that I had to work so hard again.
“You need a goal Kell. A good one to motivate you not to slip backwards like we have.” He persisted. Yeah, I had a goal. To be skinny. And I’m shit at that goal. It’s really, really hard to maintain. I continued being vague and non-committal. Kris pulled out his photo slides.
“Kell there is no better feeling than walking off that stage after a comp.” walking off that stage?
“My goal wasn’t to walk on that stage Kell. It was to walk off it. Because that meant I’d won. I’d completed the goal. And that feeling of walking off that stage, after willingly inviting strangers to judge my body and getting through it; THAT, that was the best feeling I’ve ever felt in my life. And it made me want to do it again”.
It’s probably a ‘have to have been there’ moment to understand it. Kris is one of the most inspirational people I’ve ever known my whole life. He could talk me into anything with the most creative, loving yet stern pitches better than anyone else on this planet. And he knew it resonated with me because we had talked about the euphoria, I experienced finishing my first mudder race. Sheer nirvana mixed with pain and freezing and five days of recovery. I chased that feeling. But I was only ever running against myself. It was the best sport to avoid judgement, letting a team down with my ‘less-than’ sportiness or having to compete against other people. My fitness world was very private. Kris took on the scary stuff that confronted his every weakness. I avoided that as much as possible.
But he had hit a nerve. The recovery time often ended up overshadowing the end of race nirvana I experienced. And the sensation was never quite as strong as that first race.
I might have stomped my foot because I tend to do that when my little brother has a very strong and convincing argument that will do me the world of good. But I was clever. (I thought so anyway…)
“Fine!” I said.
“Fine I’ll do it”
“Kell (that bloody condescending/commit-right-now smirk glaring me in the face) what are you going to do?”
“I will do the bikini one. I’m not going all female Arnold Schwarzenegger. One day I’ll do the bikini one”
For a split second he did that serious, contemplative look his grey eyes sometimes took and he said “Promise me Kell. This is something I know you’ll love and learn from. I’ll give you everything I have, stats, food, whatever. I just know it will be your thing if you just give it a go.”
At the time I knew how much it meant to him. The problem was, I didn’t realise how much making that promise would end up meaning to me far, far too late. True to his word he sends me his stats and planners and wrote me big stories and motivation, gave me mindset meditations. The works. I looked at all of it and talked to him about it. But had no intention of making ‘one day’ today.
On the sixth second, I opened my eyes suddenly deeply feeling the intense void my little brother had left in my physical world when he moved on to the wonders of metaphysical planes. My body was a mixture of sorrow and terror. Doubt and Fear. But as I looked ahead expecting to see what I most feared – cut up model like humans wearing tiny crop tops and latex undies doubling as gym pants, judging my 40 year old, 100.2kg jingling body hid beneath my biggest T-Shirt – I saw a normal, lovely woman walking towards me. Saying my name. Welcoming me. Not looking me up and down. Just seeing me.
The gym had people in it. Not people from sports illustrated. And no exercise bike! It was a strength gym. It was exactly where Kris would have made me start.
I was so happy to discover I’m surprisingly for everyone today, much fitter, flexible and healthier than I imagined. I still got it. With every minute, every measurement, every movement and machine I felt confidence doing some serious shoulder barges with Fear and Doubt. I stepped on the scales in front of other humans and courage took another step forward with me. I set up my account and synced my new online accountability and recording app and up popped Madam Motivation. The more I engaged and let go in the process, the more my team players nudged their way in.
And then something crazy happened. I felt this beautiful sense of ease and trust overcome me. Gemma was incredible at connecting and hearing me. And as that feeling came over me Gemma touched her phone and her Home Screen flashed up and I saw … KRIS!
I was shocked for a second and said, “OH MY GOD THAT LOOKS LIKE MY BROTHER!!”
Gemma explained it’s her husband. Upside down he is the spitting image of Kris the way he was that Halloween with his beard just a little shadow across his face and his bald head. Apart from the Roman soldier costume! It sincerely, for an intense exquisite moment, felt like I’d just been touched by my hero to let me know he’s watching from somewhere and am finally making good on that promise.
Fear and Doubt are paralysing. They keep you at ‘What if’. And since losing the chance to share anything at all ever again with one of the most inspirational, philosophical, motivated and charismatic men I will ever again know in this life, I don’t want to live another ‘what if’ again. I’ve mastered failure in so many other areas of my life that I succeeded through sheer perseverance to get back up and try again. Courage and Motivation were never there organically. I just stopped thinking and kept moving. Courage and Motivation eventually came as I persevered for as long as it took.
It’s not going to be easy. But nothing worth doing ever is. I can’t wait to walk off that stage and I don’t even want to imagine walking on to it right now. I know I will though. Because every time I fall, I land on my back so I can look up and then get up.
Just keep going. And enjoy the ride!