What is your Warped Wall?

“Feel your feet first and when you are ready the top will be there.”  That’s what an inspirational man at the free running academy told me when I first attempted to get up the warped wall.


I’m not ready…  That’s not what I wanted to hear.  I wanted all 5’ 2” of me to get to the top of the warped wall - on that very first day.  My logical side knew it would take a few days but something inside me said,  “Maybe if I ran faster,  jumped higher,  leaned back more?”  Nope. I tried.  I took and implemented every little hint a passer by would call out to me as they flipped or ran past. People on the trampolines were starting to notice, wondering if I could get it.  But I couldn’t.  A birthday party was getting ready to come into the gym, and I was forced to drive back to San Diego - not getting up the wall.  


The next day, I started running, hiking, and doing stair jumps; but was I really listening to the advice of a wise man in the gym that day?  Stay grounded, feel your feet, and when you are ready the top will be there.  Can’t I just make it happen sooner if I try harder?


Even sitting here today, I looking back feeling sad that I didn’t make it to the finals of American Ninja Warrior.  Yes, it was my first time trying the course.  Yes, people have been so kind with their support.  Yes, I am a stronger and a better person from the time I ran the qualifier.  But couldn’t I get to Vegas the first time?  That’s what I was training for.  Even after running the course, I was hoping for a wild card position. 

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Why wasn’t I just feeling my feet?  Enjoying the experience?  Feeling happy like everyone else for the opportunity? Why wasn’t I focusing on being grateful for the new friends I made, the new ways to train, the overall amazing experience?  Instead, I was still hoping, looking ahead, wondering how I could train differently, or train harder to beat this obstacle like the mini trampoline or that one like the warped wall.  That certainly isn’t feeling your feet.  That’s like running so fast that you can’t feel your feet at all.


But not completing the American Ninja Warrior course is like not submitting your opponent in a UFC fight. You are leaving it up to the judges, and in that reflection you see - you just weren’t good enough, strong enough, fast enough, or bold enough to make it this time.  So what do you do?  


Well, you don’t give up.  Maybe you adjust your perspective or expectations.  Maybe you accept that your performance was okay for the first attempt because that’s exactly what happened.  It was your best effort.  No judgement.  Maybe sometimes you just think you can do more than you really can - before you are ready.  Maybe it was just too soon.  


What I learned was I wasn’t feeling my feet and instead focusing on the outcome.  I always need to pay attention more, feel more, share the good and the bad more.  I need to feel and share the times of trying to get up the warped wall and not worry about when I’ll get to the top.  


Everyone has their own warped wall.  How are you getting up it?  Are you enjoying every second - totally present and sharing your honest experiences?  Are you pretending to enjoy every second? Are you bummed cause you can’t get up your warped wall?  Or are you trying to race up too quickly?  


I learned when I focus on feeling my feet, the top will be there.  How about you?  What is your warped wall and how are you going to get up it?


You Don't Know Till You Try.  Live Life With a Bigger, Deeper Meaning. Get in the Game.

The new year started with me making a leadership resolution - to inspire greatness on a bigger level.  No, I don’t think I’m great.  It’s something I’m constantly striving for - being the best version of me, and encouraging others to do so.  

In our classroom, we are constantly setting and monitoring goals, encouraging each other, and working hard.  But what else?  We are constantly asking questions as we read, as we write, and problem-solve.  The question I asked myself this year was, “Why should I attempt to run the American Ninja Warrior Course?”  

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Is it purely the physical challenge?  The answer was - no.  It was to inspire on a bigger level.  It was to inspire the students in my class, the students in my prior classes, and my friends and family.  

In talking to my friend Angie, she said you can’t just inspire on a bigger level, you must inspire something like greatness. 

I thought it sounded so vain. I had to mull it around a bit.  I tried saying it at the interview, but I didn’t even feel quite confident in saying the word greatness, without the fear of what others would think.  Would they think I was trying to be the next Muhammad Ali?

Angie helped me to clarify my own vision.  She helped me realize that it is okay to strive for and inspire greatness in whatever you are doing. What does being great mean to you?  Is it being a leader, role-model, great parent, student?  Is it getting in shape?  Is it volunteering or giving back?

American Ninja Warrior gave me that opportunity to pursue the best version of me and inspire greatness on a bigger level beyond our classroom.  In class, the students were hooked and motivated to learn.  Outside of class, an outpouring of people shared stories of changes they made in their lives, after seeing me try to run the course. This experience has fueled me to become a better person and grow.  It's empowering to see and hear the positive effects it has on other people, who are wanting to make changes in their lives.

It takes a tremendous amount of courage to get out there and try.  I was hoping to show through hard word, determination, and dedication, that in trying to overcome obstacles, you have to have the courage to take risks, set goals, work hard, try your best, and have fun. If you aren’t fulfilled then maybe you haven’t set the bar high enough?  On the other hand, if you don’t reach your goals, then you just have to keep the bar high, make some changes, and try again.  

Greatness?  Someday.  Inspiration?  You bet.  What is it that you’ve always wanted to accomplish?  Get in the game. You don’t know until you try.

What Would You Do If You Weren't Afraid?

The Heart, Mind, and Spirit of an Athlete

After thinking about what to write for my first blog, I texted my college roommate Angie. She quickly said, “Use the discussion question from Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In and ask yourself, “What would I do if I wasn’t afraid?”  She went on, “This is what you did recently by submitting a video and going on T.V. with some crazy obstacle course you had never seen."  

For me, deciding to run the American Ninja Warrior course wasn’t a tough decision.  The difficult part was: overcoming my shyness, learning to speak up, and developing my voice.   

Racing in the back of my mind, while being interviewed was, “What will people think of me?"  I knew I had the unconditional support of my family and boyfriend.  I knew the students in my class were rooting for me. But what would everyone else think?  

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One question the producer asked during the interview was, “What do your fellow colleagues  think of you running the course?  I replied, “I didn’t even tell them yet.”  He was shocked and said, “Well, they’ll soon find out.”  I knew he was right, but I was still scared to tell people.  It took over two months, after running the course, that I even hinted about it.

After sharing the news, an outpouring of additional support followed. People had nothing but positive, uplifting messages before the show even aired. I was so surprised at how many people were excited to watch it - staying up for two hours to watch a short recap of the run.  WBRE even posted a story on their news station. 

After the clip aired, people were so excited and connected to the effort, hard work, determination, and perseverance it takes to overcome obstacles. I can’t even begin to tell you how many people said they were inspired to overcome something in their life now and took the time to share their story with me.  

I am so grateful for these amazing people in my life who offer support, encouragement and show the courage to overcome obstacles. Thanks for teaching me to hold my head up, in attempting to overcome these new and unknown challenges.

It wasn’t actually running the course that gave me more courage, but instead it was the radical support I received in trying to overcome these obstacles.  For me, I am learning to develop my voice, and I’m starting here with my very first blog thanking everyone for their support. It sometimes takes a big leap of faith to overcome the next big obstacle. But someday you’ll reach for that bar and go above it.

Everyone has obstacles.  What would you do if you weren’t afraid?