I am at the airport with my family (well, the boys as Kelsey is at college) waiting to board our flight to Florida. NO- we are not flying to Disney (ok-we are going to Universal for 2 days). We’re going to visit my dad in St. Augustine, Florida. My head is pounding, my stomach is hurting and my heart is racing. I could pretend that I am getting sick but that’s not the reason I feel the way I do. You see, this is the first time I am going to visit since my mom died almost 3 years ago. 3 YEARS!! My mom had cancer and her last year was one of the most traumatic experiences of my life. I did my best to care for her but the pain of failing her has prevented me from going back to place where it all began. I haven’t visited my dad since.
Recognizing My Hurdle
I had a big hurdle to overcome. I hate asking for help. I hate when people feel sorry for me. I hate letting people I care about down. But most of all, I hate being sad. Given my hurdle, you can see why these things were be a big problem for me. So, for the first 2 years after my mom died, I buried myself where I could escape from the pain. I poured myself into work and refused to go back down to see my dad. At first, it was easy to avoid…oh, Dad, we are so busy…school, work, kids activities. Then it’s no biggie, Dad, I will fly you up here to spend time with us. After 2 years, it was getting a bit ridiculous, as my dad was so hurt that we weren’t coming down. I could hear it in his voice when he asked “When will I see you guys again”, he would ask tentatively, assuming he already knew what the answer will be.
So, for the past year, I recognized that I was not dealing with this experience in a way that would help me move forward. I made myself talk about my mom to my kids. I shared stories – funny ones about my mom’s terrible cooking when I was a kid and inspiring ones about how she much loved trying new businesses and taking risks. I would then talk about my mom with my dad, even if it made me cry. I would tell him how much I missed her and we both ended up crying. As the last step, I bought the plane tickets right before Christmas to go see my dad. In order to move forward, I had to recognize the hurdle in front of me.
Why a Hurdle?
Hurdles are challenges that can be overcome, rather than an insurmountable wall or blockade. Hurdles also create a more positive mindset of challenges. I can leap over them and I have done this throughout my life. However, in this case, my hurdle seemed much higher than I could have ever anticipated. My question became “how can I apply a series of techniques to jump over my hurdle like champion hurdlers do?”. To become a top hurdler, these athletes must work hard in the following 3 areas:
- Core Strength – Hurdlers must have core strength in order to soar seamlessly over the hurdles. To achieve this, they do thousands of core strength exercises over and over again to develop the necessary muscles. In any life or work challenge, we must develop this strength too. In my case, I have been developing my strength by learning to forgive myself. There is no blame. It’s just life. Learn and let it go. I have been repeating this for some time now.
- Stability – Hurdlers need to also develop the strength around their core in order to take off and land consistently without losing speed. To apply this to life and work situations, it’s the ability to use these strategies without thinking.
- Flexibility – Hurdlers must be extremely flexible in order to be low and create as little space as possible between them and the hurdle. It’s all about efficiency and consistency regardless of distance or height. The flexibility is the ability to use these strategies or techniques in a variety of situations seamlessly and consistently.
For me personally, thinking about visiting the place where I felt that I let my mother down as a hurdle is a huge breakthrough for me. It means I can develop the techniques to leap over it. It is conquerable. It’s something I can jump over. I WILL be able to finally get past this.
Let’s Get Started!
Everyone has their hurdles in life or at work. Some hurdles are low and some are high. Next time you have a hurdle to overcome, try this technique:
- Recognition – You have to acknowledge there is a hurdle in front of you. In my case, I knew it but I was hiding from it and I spent the past year slowing addressing this.
- Core Strength – Now that the hurdle has been identified, develop simple, repeatable techniques and take an action. For me, I have been repeating those 3 statements for the past year – there is no blame. It’s just life. Learn and let it go. My action was booking the ticket.
- Stability – Put yourself in the situations to use them. I do have a self-blame issue, where I am so hard on myself when things don’t go quite right. Since I have been saying my 3 statements, I have noticed that I have been able to move past my mistakes much faster – at home and at work! You wont be perfect at it and will likely slip backwards, however, you will recognize this faster!
- Flexibility – Now, the key is using these techniques in new situations. Continue to push yourself in these new spaces. I am putting myself in positions to ensure I keep stepping out and taking risks so when (not if) something doesn’t work out, I can learn from it and let go.
We are human and hurdles are part of our life journey. The next time you find a hurdle in front of you, try on this technique and stick with it. Let me know how it goes!
(PS – Visiting my Dad and being at the place where my mom’s cancer journey started has been an incredibly healing experience – can’t believe how long it took me to leap over this hurdle…try not to take 3 years to jump over yours!)