When I was a kid, I remember hearing about self-help groups that supposedly built people up by tearing them down, breaking down their psyches, reducing them to tears. I always felt that this was a pretty backwards way of getting people to feel good about themselves, by making them feel bad about themselves.
Interestingly, I had an experience today that led to a complete and total epiphany about what drives me. And it involved exactly that - being reduced to tears.
Tony's workout today was insane. It started with push ups, followed by chest presses, incline presses, decline presses, pullovers, ending with the piece d'resistance, two sets of walking pushups, 12 reps each (actually 36 reps each, because of the whole walking thing). About 1/3 of the way through the first set, I collapsed on the floor, feeling disheartened and weak. My in-person trainer was there, and she asked me what I was doing. I told her, and she immediately took off her sweatshirt and got down on the floor with me, prepared to do every push up with me.
"You can do this," she encouraged. "You will do this."
"I can't," I cried, "This is insane. I HATE him. I HATE him."
2/3 of the way through the final set, I crumpled into a ball and began to cry. By that point, I knew I would get through it and I was crying both from the pain of how hard it was, and from the joy of knowing I would break through the wall. I finished up, she high-fived me, and I went on to tackle the treadmill, a 10 minute cardio run. Feeling amped by the experience of completing all those impossible push-ups, I felt inspired to try to run a 10-minute mile, something I'd never done. I started off at 6.0 mph, and it actually felt do-able. I couldn't believe it. 5 minutes in, I ratcheted the speed up to 6.5, and kept it there for 5 minutes, at the 10-minute mark, I went back down to 6.0 for a 5-minute "break," then back up to 6.5 for 3 more minutes, followed by a minute at 7.0 and then a minute at 6.0. I ended up exceeding my goal of running 2 miles in 20 minutes; I ran 2.1 miles in 20 minutes.
I realized in talking about the experience later in the afternoon to a dear friend of mine that this is what drives me, what makes me unique and ultimately, what will lead to my success. I not only welcome, but invite into my life people like Tony and Kristen, who push me to the absolutely outer limits of what I can possibly achieve. I have people who do this for me in my physical development, like Tony, but also people who do this for me in my mental and emotional development, like my therapist, Dr. Susan Sabin, and people who do this for me spiritually, like my AA sponsors, and people who do it for me with my music, like John Stanley and Patti Labelle. The list goes on and on.
I never really verbalized this before, never really acknowledged it about myself, never really said how grateful I am to have been graced with this quality. I not only am willing to challenge myself to achieve as much as I possibly can in this life, I crave the challenge. I look forward to it. I thrive on it.
BRING IT ON.