The "Sculling Sloth"
You may have heard of Hamadou Djibo Issaka in the constant barrage of news from the London Olympics. If not, he is an Olympic competitor from Niger in the sport of rowing. His nickname from the media is the "Sculling Sloth" because he is so incredibly slow compared to the other competitors. In fact, he only learned to row 3 months ago in a wooden fishing boat by his village. By his admission, his biggest worry when he's going to start a race is that he'll fall out of the boat while trying to get in (which he actually did in his first race!).
And yet in his first race, where he came in over 2 MINUTES after the leader, the crowds cheered more loudly for him than for any of the other racers. Why is that? I think the main reason people rallied around Issak is that they admired him. They admired his courage and persistence. They admired the fact that he PUT HIMSELF OUT THERE for all to see, knowing he was going to be horrible, and was unashamed. He did something that many of us don't dare to do, which is to be vulnerable and willing to fail while doing something out of his comfort zone.
Be Comfortable Being Uncomfortable
I'm as guilty of this as many others are. I tend to gravitate to my comfort zone and edge away from uncomfortable actions and decisions. But I also know that to grow, improve, and be better, I've got to get comfortable being uncomfortable.
When we talk about our fitness, working out and eating in a manner consistent with long-term health isn't always the easy road. It isn't necessarily the most comfortable journey to travel. But to truly make a difference in our health, we NEED to take that journey. We need to commit to exercising (even when we don't feel like it), to being discriminating about the food we eat (even when we want that dessert or extra helping), and not be afraid of being out of our comfort zone.
How Do We Do It?
A great way to practice this is to do just ONE THING each day that you normally wouldn't do or would typically put off. Don't feel like working out today? Do it anyway and defy that inclination to skip it. Is there a chore that you really should do but don't feel like it? Do it anyway, without even thinking about it, and defy the temptation to procrastinate.
Release Your Inner Issaka
Issaka is already planning for the Rio Olympics in 2016. He says that while he doesn't expect to win or even receive a medal, he's going to practice, get better, and give it a shot again. People are inspired when they see someone breaking down walls and doing something that they aren't necessarily comfortable doing. And Issaka is a perfect example of someone who has provided that inspiration in a major way!
You can learn to do this yourself too, slowly but surely, and be an inspiration to those around you. Give it a shot...just one small decision each day that takes you out of your comfort zone. You'll be surprised at how you progress and it will open doors for you that you thought were forever closed and inspire you to take chances that you never thought you'd take.