When was the last time you challenged yourself? I mean really challenged yourself. Have you ever reached for something that wasn’t even on your radar six months ago? Have you ever pushed yourself to do something that you didn’t think was possible? When was the last time you put yourself into a situation you weren’t comfortable with, to challenge yourself, to “do good” for some other cause, or maybe just to prove that you could? Innately, as humans, we tend to play it safe. We typically roam freely within the confines of our comfort zones and stick with what we know…because it’s safer that way. When we don’t take risks, we don’t have as much to lose. Or do we? I have a friend who once said he didn’t want to get to the end of his life and realize he had only lived the length of it…he wanted to live the WIDTH of it, too. Now I don’t know if that was his own quote or borrowed from some other wise soul, but think about it- that’s a valid point, isn’t it? Don’t just live your life the same way, one foot in front of the other, day in and day out. DO SOMETHING. Challenge yourself. Even if it’s scary, even if it’s new, even if it might be uncomfortable at first. Because if we aren’t challenging ourselves to reach our fullest potential, we’re missing out on so much. When we play it safe, we lose.
Sometimes we have to knuckle up.
I believe that in addition to personally challenging ourselves, we all have a social responsibility to each other, and to the city we call home. What that responsibility looks like varies depending on a lot of things: frame of mind, ability, desire to instigate positive change and growth… From where I sit, I believe that part of being a local entrepreneur is the inherent duty to be an active (and proactive) member of my community. I knew that by starting a business in this city I was making myself vulnerable. I was putting my livelihood solely in the hands of the people who live here, work here, play here…they got to decide whether or not to support me, and I humbly turned over the reigns to them, saying, “Here’s what I have to offer…you decide what it’s worth.” In that vein, I realized that as much as I rely on others for my continued growth and success, I wanted to give whatever I could back to the community that supports me.
I have viewed myself as a team player ever since I opened my doors in 2005, and over the past two years my desire to work toward the common good of the city and surrounding areas has only grown by leaps and bounds. I’ve gotten involved in numerous efforts, events and activities to show my support, and I’ve tried to bring to the table whatever time, energy, resources and talents I can possibly muster up.
Through those efforts, I’ve learned a lot about myself; I’ve pushed myself way beyond the limits of my wildest dreams… and I’ve just done it again. For the last three weeks, I’ve found myself a couple days a week at Drake’s Downtown Gym, taking boxing classes to prepare for what I’m sure will be one of the most challenging events of my life, both physically and emotionally. I have signed up to be part of the Knockout 2013 team, as a fighter in the second annual event put on by Dayton History and Drake’s Downtown Gym. The event will take place on March 2, 2013 at Memorial Hall, and is comprised of 9 match-ups. Is this crazy? Maybe. But it’s a challenge. I want to support Dayton History, Memorial Hall, Drake’s Gym (a fellow entrepreneur), the City of Dayton, and my teammates- in essence, I want to be part of something bigger than myself.
While I’ve been “knuckling up” the last few weeks, I’ve learned that nothing is impossible. And I’m just getting started. Once you push yourself outsides the limits of your comfort zone, you realize that you can do anything you put your mind to. Am I terrified of boxing one of my friends on March 2 in front of thousands of people? You bet. But just like rappelling down a 27-story building for Big Brothers Big Sisters last Fall, I’ve put my mind to it and I’m doing it. There’s no turning back. And I know that the next three months of training for this event will be an experience I will never forget. I’ll learn about myself, I’ll be doing something for a worthy cause, and I’ll be better for it.
Knuckle up. Challenge yourself. Give back. You might be surprised how good it feels to stretch your limits and start living the width of your life.