Ten Things Boot Camp Taught Me About Life

In my years as an executive life coach for driven professionals, executives, entrepreneurs and CEO’s of Household, I’ve noticed a common and frustrating theme.  I call it the Nagging Half-Version Syndrome.

It’s the sense, the knowingness, that we are not showing up to our greatest version of ourselves.

It’s a widespread longing to fill the gap between who we are and who we are capable of becoming.

It’s characterized by a gnawing feeling that we’re operating at a fraction of our best.

In short, that we’re not playing full out.

I call it the Ultimate Unrest.

So recently when I was experiencing my own touch of the Nagging Half-Version Syndrome (NHS), I signed up for a 14-day Boot camp with 25 other participants.

On that first day as I listened I realized self-doubt had not been reserved just for me.  Everyone had been dealt a healthy dose.

That’s the thing about a new goal.  We can’t be certain we’ll achieve it in advance so there is always fear and hesitation. That wondering will I make it and…”what if this goes terribly wrong?”

It turns out I gained a lot more from the two-week experience than a bigger bicep.  Here are ten lessons Boot Camp taught me about life and playing full out.

1. Sign up before you think you’re ready. Put yourself in the arena. Once you show up, your body and mind will help you get through. Deciding to jump in is the hardest part.

2. It’s hard AND you can do it. I’ve learned our body can do much more than our mind thinks it can. I made a mental note of that as I grinded out push up after push up.

3. Nothing more than the next step. In the midst of a difficult day, looking at the number of days remaining did not serve me.  It de-motivated me. There were moments where I couldn’t even look at that workout.  So I looked only at the next circuit.  That meant only the next 90 seconds. Make your next step small enough that you are willing to do it.  We can do anything for 90 seconds, right?

4. Use the Buddy System. It would have been easy to skip if I didn’t know my peers were going to be waiting for me. Whether you are trying to lose weight, start a business, or become a happier person, there is no substitute for having someone to share your journey.  A partner means someone to encourage you and hold you accountable.

5. It’s better with a coach. A coach is a cheerleader, a director, a strategist, an ass-kicker, keeps you on task and sees in you what you may not see in yourself.  She holds the vision when you can’t see it.  She guides you to the light switch so you can turn it on. She won’t let you quit. Mine did that for me.

6. Talk yourself up. I understand positive self-talk is quite possibly the most important skill the U.S. Navy SEALs learn during their training. The most successful SEALs may not be the ones with the biggest biceps or the fastest mile, but they know how to turn their negative thoughts around. I decided to try it during some grueling exercises. My mantra, “I can do this,” was invaluable.

7. Immerse yourself for a Breakthrough. Inches were lost and habits like an evening glass of wine were dropped. It’s easier when you’re immersed in an experience.  Knowing I would be back there at 5:45 AM the next day meant there was no wiggle room to fall off course.

8. Don’t forget to come up for a breath. We tend to hold our breath when we don’t want to feel an emotion. But breathing can release pain in a muscle and tension in life.

9. Playing Full Out = No Regrets. Towards the end of your life when you’re in your rocking chair looking back, you’ll want to know you lived life fully.  That you gave it your all.  That you won’t be one of the millions who dies with the Nagging Half-Version Syndrome. Playing full out is the antidote to the NHS.

10. Testing your edge is worth the cost. Moving beyond your current upper limit of success is worth the sweat, pain, disappointment and risk of failure. You don’t have to succeed every time. Just making progress brings happiness. I was reminded of this again.

On the end of the last day when our coaches said “you did it,” I felt a twinge of emotion rise up.

I’d pushed my edges. I’d taken massive action. I found I was capable of more than I previously thought.

We had a celebration. Then I unexpectedly received the class award for outstanding achievement in taking full advantage of each workout, each day, each theme and each challenge during Boot Camp.

Why would I ever NOT play full out? I wondered about the things in my life I have not tried because I haven’t had the confidence or was afraid of failing.

I realized that maybe the better question instead of “what if it all goes wrong?” is “what if it all goes right?”

I decided to apply these lessons to ALL of my life challenges and goals.

Because what I know for certain is…happiness is knowing you played full out!

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