There are plenty of good reasons to believe in yourself but so many times in life the decision that gets made is the one that walks hand in hand with your self-doubt. The choice is always there to make but believing in yourself is probably going to be linked with some hard work, some risks, some potential embarrassment, or any other number of challenges.
As a young boy I didn’t have a lot of confidence but was lucky enough to have a good role model in my older brother. At sixteen he and I spent a summer riding our motorcycles across Canada and back. That trip showed me that it was possible to achieve big ambitions. I think of the things that followed that trip, living in London, going to Australia, meeting Helen and moving to the west coast. I learned that so much was possible when you believed in yourself.
One of the most dramatic demonstrations of the power of believing in yourself was the board breaking I did in my various belt testings in Taekwondo. Every time I faced a new technique and those boards I visualized myself breaking them and then I did it. When we moved up to concrete I was forced to dig deeper into myself than I ever had. The first time it didn’t go so well and I have the moment recorded on video. I set up a single 1.5 inch thick brick supported on two blocks and prepared to break it. I wound up over and over again, then at long last I swung my hand down. It didn’t break and the video shows me walking away holding my hand. It didn’t break because I didn’t believe it was possible. I was forced back to the beginning. I practiced my technique over and over again, I visualized, I convinced myself I could do it, and then one day I did it. As time went on pieces of 2 inch thick concrete were stacked on each other. I kept on believing and I kept breaking and finally I did what no one else in the dojo had done and broke through a stack of 10 blocks.
The martial arts gave me confidence. I believed in myself and that belief was rewarded with successes. Later when I started doing Crossfit I was presented with a whole new set of challenges. Lifting weights, performing gymnastic movements on bars and rings, just being able to complete something in less time than a previous attempt, it all adds up to challenges that have to be faced.
Every day provides an opportunity to believe in yourself. When you do, you move forward even if it is only one tiny step, the size of the step doesn’t matter it’s the direction that does. I think when you take those challenges and do your best you have a fresh chance to learn something new about yourself. When you give up without trying, you take a couple of steps backward. Better to try and not succeed than to be afraid of trying.
I competed recently in the Taranis Titan Challenge, a three-day Crossfit competition in Victoria. I was going in as an individual and at 59 I was by far the oldest of the 63 men competing. I went in with the goal of facing the challenge of the competition and to do my very best in an effort to not be last in any of the workouts I would be doing. It was not about beating someone else, it was about putting myself on notice that there was no turning back, there was only going forward. It was hard but I did all my events and was never last. Finishing 60th overall out of 63 was like a gold medal to me. I had believed in myself that I was capable of doing all the work and I was happy with my results.