Placing One Foot in Front of the Other
I know I have to practice before it is reasonable for me to meet my expectations or achieve what I set out to accomplish.
Although practice sessions can be tedious, time-consuming, and sometimes frustrating, the “routine” practice is commonplace. Routine practice is standard, basic, and a prerequisite to improvement.
That kind of practice is acceptable, and easily so. It is the unexpected processes that can be disheartening and tempt me to lose focus, to doubt myself, and to conjure up excuses.
By unexpected, I mean the times I set out to do something, convinced I am prepared and ready, yet my performance suggests otherwise.
Like rehearsing for weeks on end for a concert, and then going on stage and messing up the lyrics or the rhythm. Or practicing all week for Friday’s game, and then repeatedly fumbling the ball. Or training for months to complete a marathon, and then spraining your ankle four miles into the 26.2-mile journey. Or training to climb a mountain, having two attempts under your belt and thinking you know what it’s going to take for a third-time’s-a-charm achievement, only to turn around 500 vertical feet before you reach the summit.
That kind of practice is not fun, not desired, and certainly not easy to accept.
That’s what is consuming my mind today.
Years ago, I started a nonprofit with a mission to help rare-disease and disabled patients experience the beauty and power of physical achievement. De:terminence exists to help others summit mountains, run marathons, or simply ride a bike across town.
Often, a disease or disability limits people from taking on such feats. While they watch others cross finish lines, they may wrestle with depression and defeat. I believe a team of people can procure the right adaptive equipment, train individuals, and help carry, pull, or push so that others feel the power of personal achievement.
Recently, de:terminence’s campaign to summit the California 14ers has become a personal mission for me.
Last week, I set out with a team of seven tenacious individuals who wanted to help my friend Kyle Bryant and me reach the summit of White Mountain in California’s Inyo National Forest.
The team pushed and pulled me constantly to help me move forward, closer to the summit. They carried the food, water, and gear necessary to sustain us on the side of a mountain where elevation never fell below 12,000 feet, the sun never hid behind clouds, and temperatures dropped to 30 degrees in the middle of the night.
The team felt prepared. I felt prepared. This was my third attempt, and we had a solid plan to conquer this 14,252-foot mountain.
I pushed farther and climbed higher than I ever have. But I still don’t have a picture on that summit, holding a handmade flag from my mother.
This isn’t the type of “practice” I was anticipating, and I could probably come up with a dozen excuses as to why I didn’t summit.
But you know me. There are no good excuses, and I believe all forward motion is progress.
More than ever, one of the most meaningful proclamations I embrace comes from Theodore Roosevelt: “The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; … who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Failure is not an excuse. Instead, it is a reason to get up and try again. One foot in front of the other.
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