I want to write. So why don’t I? Why isn’t it easier if it’s something I want so bad? Because of the fear of how I or others will judge it. I try all of the tactics, I have Wrong, Bad, Fast written in sharpie on this very keyboard, I work to schedule my time and then usually sit there finding anything else to do than write. I struggle to get past myself really as the assumption is always that I must be doing it wrong. There is doubt there that is deep seeded. Maybe I feel that I need another’s validation or grace to “let” me write, that I need my hand held to accomplish what I would like and that I am not enough. Yet in my finer moments I am absolutely enough. When I am in a state of “flow” it all comes easy because when you are rolling there isn’t room nor time for judgement. This is the place I can only assume we are striving for but struggling to get to. My theory around this is changing, I used to believe we had obstacles put in front of us from an external source and for sure there are times that we do but I think it is far less often than we would like to admit. When I analyse my own life with any semblance of subjectivity I can do nothing but admit that I am often my major (and sometimes only) problem. The obstacles truly are just excuses. I have put them there whether knowingly or unknowingly.

Here is your perfect example. Literally while I write this I put my own obstacle in front of myself. As I write I start to think “why am I even writing this? Someone else has already put something very similar to this out there in the world and likely with more polish than I ever could. The scariest part? This is true. Ryan Holiday has a book called The Obstacle is The Way where he discusses much of this topic. To critical acclaim none the less. I look up to him as a writer as he is prolific in his production yet provides no less quality because of his quantity. Now I could just point you in his direction and give up. Which if you want a great read absolutely go and pick up that book. But here I sit continuing to write realizing that the thought I had is from a place of lack. Is there not room for me to discuss this topic from a different angle? Maybe resonate with a different type of person all together? For sure. When you understand our brains main job is to keep us alive, conserve calories and entice us to reproduce you start to understand that uncontrolled it will stop you from taking almost any risk. And that is the key,

we cannot rely on our brains to get us through.

Our brains are amazing and beautiful but much like a 150 year old house that has been renovated in some way every 20 years they are not perfect and don’t operate as holistically as we would like. So you have to play some games with yourself. You have to remind yourself of your souls intent more often, put things visually in front of yourself that distract at times and narrow focus at others, all while giving yourself the grace to realize you are never going to be perfect, you will fail and sometimes the thing you want to do is actually going to create the most dread in you and you will want to avoid it at all cost.

A little like I have avoided writing. Fuck I developed an app and built a mobile coffee company to circumnavigate my desire to become a writer. Writing may actually be one of the hardest things for me to do, sometimes I would rather be anywhere but in front of this laptop trying to articulate my thoughts and being smacked with the reality that I am not nearly as good at this as I want to be.

This piece brings light to just that. It is rambly at best, mostly incoherent and really to this point I have used a lot of words to say very little. My prose is lacking, I am sure there is spelling and grammar errors and ultimately my paragraph structure probably wouldn’t hold up in a high school english class. But Here I sit proud that I got here and that I have done this. The starting point (again) of what I would like to be a space I live in. I want to help and I feel between writing and speaking I can do that. I will work to perfect this craft however painfully slow it goes.

This time around it will be with a lot less pressure. Eventually I will build out a posting schedule, but for now I will stick to attempting in some small way to work on my writing daily. I will edit ruthlessly and work to make content I feel resonates deeply with those I am seeking. Maybe I will even define a core reader so I can better understand just who I am writing to but at the moment I will just work to help who I used to be as I am sure I am not the only person who has been there. It is going to take a much longer time horizon than I would hope but that is ok. Perspective is my magic wand and I am going to wave it furiously until I get to where I want to go.

My current mood is one of slight agitation. It is bubbling just below the surface. I am writing this from my couch with my leg wrapped in ice and propped up as high as I can get it comfortably without losing my laptop off my lap. It is not the most ideal writing position as every key stroke makes my laptop wobble and I can barely see what I am writing. It might sound like I am suppressing, but it feels to me as though I am utilizing rather than having my emotions utilize me. I am proud that it hasn’t risen to the surface because I now know that it won’t (well maybe for a moment if this laptop continues to move like the Darth Vader bobble head on my dashboard) because I have purchased some “tools” for my mental toughness toolbox. The tools I purchased cannot be bought with money, they are only paid for through the work. I am confident in my ability to not only deal with my underlying emotions but utilize them to continue to move me forward rather than hold me back.

So here is how I got to this space in my head…

I consider myself an athlete. I train every day and I train hard. I was running close to 40km a week, biking about 150km, playing basketball once or twice a week and weightlifting at least 4 times. I don’t take days off. Then I had an ankle injury, ok screw it no running or basketball for a few weeks but we can pile miles on the bike. I proceeded to up my bike km to almost 300km a week. As the ankle got better and I didn’t address some of the imbalances that had crept in, my return to basketball and running was less than stellar. Quickly I developed a nagging calf and then a groin/lower ab issue. I dealt with them as they came but at times it felt like the universe was knocking slightly harder on the proverbial door of my brain telling me I needed to pivot for a minute, maybe a break was due. I started doubting myself and I was having some major bouts with frustration (ok, maybe a little north of frustration into the land of anger). There is nothing quite like the frustration of wanting your body to perform in a certain way and it just not responding. Overall I was in a rut for the better part of 12 weeks physically, but I was mostly unaware of the rut I was in mentally too. Especially with the return back to basketball after years off. I did not realize how much playing brought me back to an old headspace, a headspace I had moved on from the last 2 years. This tied with the injuries was most definitely creating some cracks in the mental fortitude I have so studiously crafted.

Remember that knee at the start I mentioned, the one I was icing? How about the door being knocked on? Well the universe kicked the proverbial door wide open. I went up for a layup in our basketball game and came oh so unceremoniously down to the floor. My knee completely buckled in, big crunch, far too loud scream (a little embarrassing) and game over. Some may not call it luck but there are 2 physios on our team and one on the other team as well. What are the chances? They all had their turn taking a look and as I sat on the bench for the second half of the game somewhere between agony and feeling sorry for myself all of the frustration I had been feeling flooded back. It felt like all of the work I had put in was for nothing, like I was heading back to square one and if you have known me for a while that was going to be a long way back. All I could think of was oh god please don’t let this be where the story takes its turn for the worse and I go back to all of the bad habits I had worked so hard to get away from. Being brutally honest with you this is still a huge fear of mine and probably in some way shape or form always will be. I never want to be that Clint again and I work tirelessly for that reason. So with my thoughts racing and my knee throbbing my incredible men’s league team literally carried me out to a waiting car and one of the boys drove me home and practically carried me in to my house. The second the door closed I crumpled to the floor, I sobbed knowing full well the road ahead was going to suck. Although I have had a ton of ankle injuries I have never injured a knee before. But having played basketball my whole life I know a torn knee ligament can be the death knell for an athlete, especially one at 35. Depending on how serious the injury was it wouldn’t just spell the end of basketball but maybe running and lifting too. At least these were the thoughts swimming through my head while the pain was fresh in my knee. I am not exactly sure how (with some super human help from my wife is actually how) but I got showered and into bed.

Worried I would wake up in a worse state physically and mentally I did the best I could in between my fitful moments of sleep. I prayed, a lot. I talked to myself in a positive way. I told myself all of the good I had done and the things I was grateful for about the moments that had led me directly to this spot. I reminded myself of the things that were in my control. I realized that there were many and while doing this nothing actually happened. Often it will sound like these things happened overnight and people have these epiphanies out of nowhere, they don’t describe the hard parts, the embarrassing pieces that helped them realize what they needed to realize. It is rarely pretty coming to a big life realization, especially for someone as incapable of learning lessons as I am. The reason nothing happened when I just talked to myself is because there was no action. There was work to do. My realization didn’t hit me until today and it isn’t like I woke up with an epiphany, I struggled to get out of bed today, remnants of feeling sorry for myself keeping me tied to my bed. It was a slow burn as the day went on, a culmination of maintained habits since the injury that showed me I wasn’t going back to who I used to be, this wasn’t a slide it was just more adversity to go through. It wasn’t “god” or whatever you choose to call it telling me to take it easy or to take a break, he was telling me to go through the fucking pain. To feel it and not just push it down, to embrace the adversity not just try to smash it to smithereens.

I definitely went through it over the last 10 days wrestling with my ego, with the fact that I couldn’t do the things I wanted to in  the way that I wanted to do them. I felt like I had let people down, at work, on my team, even my wife and kid (one of the absolute worst feelings for me was telling my daughter there would be no more “shoulders” for a little bit) but everyone was completely understanding. My daughter blew my mind, she “doctored” me every day and brought me crutches, passed me my water and grabbed me anything she could help with. If you’re a parent you know how much pride this gives me.

This is where I diverge from the normal thoughts people have around an epiphany. I know today the realization that I am tougher than I was giving myself credit for and that like I have said before I just needed to go through this pain not shy from it dawned on me. That is all it did, it dawned on me today, But it would not have if I didn’t put the work in, well before the injury but right after it too. In the past I would have just wallowed, sat in bed with my leg propped up and made poor Tam do everything for me and then probably bitched at her for doing it wrong ( I say this because this is literally what I did when I sprained my ankle about 6 or 7 years ago). I didn’t do this, did I stay in bed longer? Totally, I literally had to hop around the house on one foot or slide down the stairs on my ass, which my daughter so graciously showed me how. But I got up, I set myself up downstairs (with some assistance for sure) and I attacked my rehab as best I could. I didn’t just sit there and use that as my excuse though, I made sure I still got what I could done, using the counter to help myself around I got Katie’s breakfast and snacks ready, I unloaded the dishwasher. I did whatever I could to be useful knowing full well over the next few days Tam would have to do a lot more. This unlocked something in me and I know now that making myself useful and not just succumbing to my injury was incredible for my brain. I even did a 10 minute workout in the afternoon. It hurt like hell but I was able to do 100 1-legged push-ups and 100 sit-ups. It wasn’t much but it was another habit held, I had put a check mark firmly in the box  labelled mentally-tough and disciplined. I proceeded to do that every day. I found a way to be useful at home, at work and to myself. I maintained each of my habits that were so important to me and attacked what I could from a rehab standpoint like my life depended on it. I didn’t tell myself I had purpose and it was all going to be ok and most importantly I didn’t wait, I did what I could to continue to move forward even if I was literally crawling on the floor to do so.

Now I want to make sure you understand the diagnosis was not as bad as initially thought, I had not torn anything and it was just a severe MCL/ACL sprain. Some people may read “just” and write me off, but if you have ever injured these ligaments you know it is unnerving. I cannot get my lower quad to engage without staring at it and even then it seems like it is only about 75% engaged. I still can’t walk down stairs more than one at a time. It feels like all of the strength I have accumulated just vanished overnight. I am literally struggling to squat 40lbs and I can’t even get to 90 degrees. It is emasculating to say the least. I also want you to understand that it hasn’t all just been realizations and gritting my teeth. I have punched a few walls because I can’t do something, I have thrown up because I tried to do something I shouldn’t and it induced far more pain than I was ready for. I have cried, felt sorry for myself, beat myself up and absolutely wallowed in the last 10 days. I just only did them for a moment, I caught myself far better than I ever had in the past and told myself the way things actually are rather than broad stroking the most negative picture possible. For this is what I am truly proud of. If anyone ever tells you they don’t have dark moments, run, or tell them to fuck off and don’t buy anything they are selling. Real mental-toughness, confidence or whatever you want to call it is wrought from facing your demons, from catching yourself and not letting your initial feelings drive your next actions.

All of these things have been great realizations and they came to me over the last few days for sure, but the actual epiphany I had was not these. No what blew my mind is something I have said at many points in the last 2 years but hadn’t actually internalized. Today was the first workout I blistered. I went fucking hard, like I had something to prove and in a short video after that I took the words just popped out of my mouth “you have to go through the pain”. I have said this too many times, but never had they hit me in the way it hit me today. I have not gone through some of my pain recently. I have been shying away from it, finding things to keep me distracted and today had me fully realize that all of the injuries in the past couple of months were a representation and manifestation of this point. Whether you choose to believe in the law of attraction or not it is there and it is definitely real. My body is living proof of this on both sides of the coin. I thought prior to today that going through the pain was just dealing with it. What I learned today was that I have to embrace it, be grateful for it, maybe laugh in its face a little but respect the hell out of it, grit your teeth and then fucking push anyways. This is the only way through and this is where most get stuck. I know for a long time I wanted it to be easy, to not hurt or not push me. Those were all fantasies.

Most people will disagree with this and I am not for most people. I am not saying that you need to just hammer away at an injury and pretend it isn’t there, that’s stupid. Speak to your respective doctors, psychologists or whoever for the issue in front of you and when you understand what it is, realize it is time to do the work. The work is not done at the doctor, that is the lesson. The practice happens in the dark of your own mind or in my case basement. But no matter how good we feel leaving the lesson it does not translate if we don’t do the work ourselves.

While I read through the garbage I have written and decided not to post (and some of the stuff I have posted) I am struck with something. I come across as an asshole. Now this isn’t ground breaking news, I am not surprised by it, but it is interesting when you read your own material and there it is. I can appreciate as a guy who has been in charge of people for years now that I don’t always connect for the simple fact that I have become somewhat unrelatable. Not in the worst way but I see that I often don’t tell stories I share facts. I out logic those that are emotional beings and that probably doesn’t make them feel great. Hell it actually kind of pissed me off, at myself, and I wrote the shit. Do most of those that know me understand that my main focus is to help and to make a difference? I think and hope so. As I truly do want to see all those I am connected with succeed. But as a guy who has touted the “it’s not what you are saying, but how you are saying it” line more than a most I should probably check my own shit from time to time too, hey?

I have support and people have told me how they enjoy my writing. I don’t doubt that it connects with those that read it. But am I steering others away by not sharing the shit that I have been through, the shit I have put myself through to get to a spot where I feel I can write on things like mental toughness? Well as a guy that loves to get on his soapbox and preach about everything you need being in you already, and you just have to work to bring it out that is just what I am going to do. I am going to work to tell more stories directly about my life, how messy it has been and how much dumb shit I have done to get me to a point where I had enough pain in my life that I had to consciously choose working on my mental toughness every day. I do not talk about it because it has come naturally to me. I am such a big proponent of working on mental toughness because I have lacked these things in my life and have had to learn them later than most through trial and error (a lot of error). It is the journey that has spurned the research and writing. Yet I still have become so enamored by those ahead of me and so driven to improve that at times I lose sight of where I am and start to assume I am already there and that doesn’t help anyone. Especially not me.

So here goes. I started this blog because I want to have the chance to help people understand something I had to learn the hard way. Something someone didn’t tell me needed to be practiced and cultivated throughout life. I think like most of us through the advent of the internet and the typical media sources I had been sold a bill that happiness was the ultimate destination. Now I think more people are becoming aware of this pursuit of happiness as one of the largest issues we face today. It is not that happiness isn’t a place to be, it is just that pursuing it has wrought havoc much more than it has helped. I know for myself as I spent much of my 20’s doing the things my simple mind recognized as stuff that made me happy I had to do more of it more often to get the same feeling I was looking for. At some point the things I thought made me happy provided me with nothing and for a time I was mostly about numbing the dullness of the day just hoping something would happen that would bring forth some emotion. I also spent an exponential amount of time running from my other issues, as they piled up it became hard to ignore and with the pursuit of happiness along came many of the other issues we see prevalent in society today. I had a minor drinking issue, had cultivated a great debt issue and had found a way to alienate myself from the person I loved and was married too.

I’m sure for some this sounds similar and in some way most of you can relate.

All of the things I have posted to date are in reflection of a lesson I had to learn in my life. Most typically through pain because I wasn’t capable enough to learn before it hurt. I am sharing this journey in hopes of making the things I have had to unearth for myself more available to someone out there who needs it and as a place to house reminders for myself as I so constantly forget the lessons that are so important to my well-being. Maybe at times I am a rung ahead of someone on the ladder and am able to reach down to help but what I need to be reminded of is that I am nowhere near the top of the ladder and to share in a way that expresses that. No one has ever “made it” and there is always work to do.

Life is hard. We inherently know this. What we don’t realize is it is also the point. Not saying you want to purposely put road blocks in front of yourself. But it isn’t so bad when given the choice to take the hard path every once in a while. If you think about it what’s the fastest way to something you want? Usually the hardest. And so many of us (yes me too!) don’t realize how often we try to take the easier route. Or avoid doing anything altogether. Yet we expect things to be different. Well I am sorry to burst the bubble but if you want things to get better, get used to hard, train it into yourself. In the end he who can cope with more shit probably has a happier life.

Now hear me out. This isn’t some doom and gloom blog where I tell you to suck it up and get tough. While I believe there is a time and a place for pushing harder what I really want for you and what I have had to train into myself, is to disassociate the word hard with bad. Think about where your brain went in the first paragraph. I wrote hard, you though something bad. Right? If I tell you to do 50 push-ups it would typically feel like punishment, it by no means needs to be a reward but push-ups are the single handed best bodyweight exercise a human can do? Wouldn’t that help make you stronger, tighten your core and reduce back pain. Are those bad things? Not at all, they are actually awesome. Doesn’t make them any easier, especially at the start but the reward at the end far outweighs the short term hard.

Unless you live under a rock and have denounced all electronics you’ve probably been to a movie or watched one at home in the last couple of years. It doesn’t matter at all what the movie was, could be a rom-com, horror or a children’s show. Think about the movie for a moment. Was there adversity in the movie? I can guarantee it. As a species we literally crave the shit. No one wants to watch a movie where the premise is everything’s easy and nothing goes wrong. Adversity is built into our DNA, it’s built into every living things DNA. Almost every story we ever tell has adversity in it otherwise it probably isn’t worth telling. We are meant to strive, to work hard for what we want and to maybe make a sacrifice along the way. Easy is boring it’s vanilla and it doesn’t put us in the situation where when it is our time we are ready to succeed.

I am a guy that had to learn this. And I learned it the hard way. I was 32 I had a 2 year old daughter and I was soft in every way imaginable and my life was crumbling around me. Now when I say soft I mean I was breathing heavy going up the stairs, a minor inconvenience would cause a meltdown and I couldn’t cope with anything, sometimes even when it went the way it was supposed to. I would either grab a drink or wallow in my own self pity. I was close to destroying my marriage and I hated myself. I would love to pretend I didn’t know how I got there but even as it was happening I knew, just like you probably do too. I spent most of my energy avoiding anything hard, procrastinating and just generally trying to have the easiest life possible. I thought that was where happiness would be.

But there is a funny thing about happiness. It is never where we are looking for it but always right where we left it. Think about it. Have you ever finished a workout and been upset with yourself? Nope, typically your pretty content, maybe even a little proud. But then you don’t go back to the gym for a week while you are out searching for happiness like it is somewhere you don’t know of yet. All the while you probably have a building frustration as to why you can’t find happy. How have we become so dumb and brainwashed that we cannot retrace our steps to happiness. Why do we always need to search for it in a new place rather than the last place we had it? What a funny thing when you really think about it. Happiness has never been lost, It can’t be but what we seem to forget is that it has to be earned, it is made and the payment is hard work.

But the best part about the hard work is it’s all relevant and hard and fun don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Your hard is just that YOURS. It may take something completely different for me to feel I have put the necessary work in. But isn’t that awesome? You get to define the rules of  the game and the more you understand that and work at it the better you get at the game. It doesn’t get any easier but you know what is really fun? Being the best at the hardest game, not winning the easiest one.