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August 26, 2020

Built to Do Hard Things

by Paden Hughes

At the risk of bringing up ANYTHING negative in a time of life when we are all proactively straining to find the positive… let me share with you that this last week really got to me.

Maybe it was the helplessness of hearing that our beautiful state was burning with over 500 separate fires.

Maybe it was the heaviness of the apocalyptic haze that made every day feel like a fight to survive.

Or the incessant smell of campfire burning your eyes, making that mask feel more vital than ever to simply breathe.

For the first time since COVID, this week felt the darkest to me.

But here’s what I know about darkness and dark feelings: When you feel the heaviness of the world, THAT is when hope pierces brightest.

Have you ever noticed that life/God/the Universe delivers you the EXACT message you need, if you’re just paying attention to receive it?

For me (and Michael) it came through the new Amazon Prime show, World’s Toughest Race: Eco-Challenge Fiji. 66 teams from around the world raced for 11 days to cover 420 miles in Fiji. Imagine covering an average of 40 miles per day, barely eating or sleeping, and hiking through dense jungle, paddling in open ocean, hiking through rain and storms, mountain biking in thick mud, paddle boarding on bamboo rafts, rock climbing through a huge gorge, and whitewater rafting!

But it wasn’t the sheer magnitude of the race that felt so powerful.

It was the resilience of the human spirit. It was the courage to face fears. It was the grit to wade into icy waters and swim for miles in the dark, 7 days into a huge race. It was the looks of determination when you thought they’d give up.

It was watching Sonja Weick compete, a Gymnazo athlete that CJ and the Semi-Private coaching team had the honor of training. It was seeing the face of someone you know look exhausted and then just decide to move forward, to smile, to conquer because they were “built to do hard things.”

It honestly still makes me tear up writing this. It touched my heart to see these fierce humans show up for the hardest adventure racing in the world, while still showing compassion, kindness and joy in their struggles.

It hit me because, through all of the obstacles in the last 6 months, this week was the first week I felt weighed down by it.

So then I pick up Angela Duckworth’s book Grit and she says, “Excitement is common, but endurance is rare.”

Endurance. Endurance racing.

You may not realize it yet, but right now ALL of us are endurance athletes. In our spirits, we are enduring a lineup of events we could not possibly have predicted. We are building grit. We are doing hard things.

Much of what’s hard is shared right now in the world. And then there are hardships are that mine and hardships that are yours.

But here’s what I want to say:

  • to those who are homeschooling kids AND trying to work at the same time, I see you.
  • to those who live alone and quarantine feels deeply isolating, I see you.
  • to those who are fighting to keep their businesses open, I see you.
  • to those who are battling mental health, I see you.
  • to those whose relationships are being tested and may not come out the other end, I see you.
  • to those who lost jobs or fear losing your jobs, I see you.
  • to those who feel the anger of systemic wrongs and fear equality is elusive, I see you.
  • to those mourning the loss of being about to celebrate the lives of those we loved who passed, I see you.
  • to those who just want to celebrate their new babies or marriage with their friends, I see you.
  • to those who are on the front lines of the pandemic, I see you.
  • to those who are running into flames and battling endless fires, saving their neighbor’s homes, I see you.

These are HARD things. Some of these things will require us to FIGHT to overcome. Others we simply have to ENDURE and hold tightly to the belief that we can OVERCOME hard things.

Those courageous athletes in the World’s Toughest Race reminded me that I can go farther than I think. I can handle more than I think. I can will myself into finishing the race in front of me.

That TV series will always hold a special place in my heart, and so will each of you. Watching everyone fight their fight, endure their own set of obstacles and yet still find a way to smile, to joke, to see the bright side… you are the very best of humanity.

You are beautiful. You make this world a better place each day.

Thank you!

p.s. CJ had an amazing opportunity to interview Sonja Weick last week, and it’s uplifting and inspiring for so many reasons! To watch, click here.

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