By HPRS Staff Columnist Christopher Mellott
Benjamin Mee wrote “You know, sometimes all you need is twenty-second of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.”
We as runners, and as people go through life and we so often act on our fears. We say things like “I don’t have the experience” “I’ll never be able to do that” or “What if _______ happens” I know I spend more time in my head then should be allowed. I question my abilities. I wonder if I am tough enough, good enough; I wonder if I am enough. We have all been there. We too often say “no” instead of “yes.” We say no to challenges, to opportunity, and to possibilities. We assume the worst, fear the worst, and we tell ourselves we can’t.
We could continue to say no. We could be content to live a safe life and say no to all the things that may disappoint us, or even hurt us. We could live a safe, boring and uneventful life.
We could do that but what if instead of saying “no” to those things, we said “yes.” A resounding, confident yes. What would our world look like? How would things change? Would we go on the offensive? Would we go on the attack, be courageous and hunt down what we want.
I have said no thousands of times in my life and yet I cannot remember more than a handful of times that I said no and was thankful for it. On the other hand, I can think of so many times that I said yes and good things happened.
When I adopted Diesel, the people at the shelter told Chelsea and me that he was stupid, he didn’t know his name and wasn’t house trained. Chelsea and I said yes anyway. I had a feeling this was the dog for us. Two years later, hundreds of miles, lots of naps, and more love and dog hair that can be measured Diesel is the smartest dog I have ever met. He has a bladder of steel and certainly knows his name. We took a chance, said yes, and I got the best four-legged friend anyone could ask for.
We often say no to asking someone out, to putting our heart on the line and telling someone how we feel because we are scared that they might not feel the same. I was scared to ask Chelsea out. Terrified. I talked myself out of it several times thinking that there was no way she was into me. In the end, I asked myself one of the most important questions when you decide to say yes more. I asked myself what was the worst that could happen? She said yes to a Sunday morning date. That one yes two years later would be followed by one of the most important yes’s of my life. When she said yes to marry me. I said yes to something scary and because of it I get to marry my best friend.
When I started running every new distance scared me. The first 5K, 10K, half marathon, and marathon all scary. I had no idea if I could run the distance the first time. When I signed up for my first 50K. I was scared, but I refused to let fear rule me. I said yes to all the work. I said yes to the training and to the races that lead to that first ultra. I said yes to something that I wasn’t sure I could do. Something that people called crazy that people made jokes about. I said yes to one of the most challenging things I had ever done, to something scary. I finished the race, but through the process, I fell in love with the community, the people and the challenges of ultra running. I said yes to running a race, and I got more than I could ever imagine.
Good things happen when I have said yes. When I have acted out of bravery instead of fear. Human Potential Running Series posted on Facebook looking for someone to write for them. I had been writing for years for an audience of one on a blog that I never shared with anyone. I submitted my writing sample. Absolute dread when I clicked the send button. It was done. Twenty seconds of courage is all it took. A year later I have written a bunch for my community about a sport that I love.
Sometimes saying yes won’t work out; that’s okay. Keep moving forward. Keep looking for opportunities to say yes. Eventually saying yes is going to pan out. I can promise you that it will be incredible when it does. Keep being brave and good things will happen. We can all say yes more. Fuck fear, screw the what ifs and say yes. Chase those goals. I implore all of us to say yes!
We all should and can say yes more. If you struggle with finding that courage or overthink your way out of opportunities ask yourself some of these questions.
What is the worst that can happen?
If you say, the worst thing is someone says no when you ask them out, or you DNF then you really need practice what worst-case scenario looks like. The worst that can happen is that you are having the race of your life when you start being chased by zombies and eventually get eaten by them. That’s worst-case scenario shit.
What is the worse outcome that can realistically happen?
This is the DNF level stuff. You might get injured and not able to finish the race. That is realistically the worst-case scenario. You probably aren’t going to get so lost that you end up dying or fall off a cliff. Ask yourself what the realistic worse is. It probably won’t be the end of the world.
What is the best that can happen?
What is the absolute greatest thing that will happen if you say yes to something? Maybe you will go on a date with the love of your life and live happily ever after. You finish your race, get a PR, have no blisters and exceed your wildest expectations. That new buckle completes your outfits, and your social media post about the race gets you sponsored. Usually, the best that can happen will outweigh what the realistic worse.
What will success look like?
Realistically what will success look like for you? For me it is getting a belt buckle, finishing the race still in love with running and racing and surrounded by incredible runners, volunteers, and crew. What success looks like is only relevant to you. You define your own success and saying yes to hard challenges allows you to chase success.
Does saying yes and being brave align with who I want to be?
If saying yes to something will bring you closer to your most authentic self than why the hell would you say no? Be yourself and who you want to be and if saying yes to things will help you get there then say yes.
We can all say yes more. Be brave and take chances. Say yes to the unknown, yes to new experiences and yes to scary dreams and ideas. It might not always work out. Sometimes there might be setbacks but if you say yes enough you will love the life you live. Imagine what you might accomplish with just twenty seconds of courage. Every day look for opportunities to say yes. I challenge everyone to say yes. Let’s find some insane bravery!