There are so many causes of stress within our lives, and sadly, stress kills. There is really no other way to call it, than deadly. So I wanted to write a bit about my last weekend, and give you a page from my book in the process. As some of you know, I was in Hartford CT, which is a beautiful area, but I was heading into what I knew would be pure hell.
Many of you know that I was up there to organize and host a Firebreather Challenge (the obstacle course race that we had hosted here in Woodstock in July). Heading into the event, I knew it would be difficult, as we had so few volunteers signed up. I was heading up to meet up with someone who works for our CrossFit event company (The Garage Games), with hopes that she would be able to round up more help for me (you might be wondering right now how I am involved with so many different areas – busy, more than I recommend, but not for long, this will reduce soon).
Anyways, as I was saying, the total help was low. In addition, the week prior, I was told by the venue, that they were reversing their approval for me to run my participants along a 3 mile route including woods, creek and field. But I would now be limited to a 4 acre field on a hill. This was really bad news, as I had promised a 6.5 mile total distance race.
Flying out on Wednesday night, I felt despair. I felt like I was heading into a lose-lose situation. Then my flight was delayed, and ultimately the items that I needed to get done Wednesday night in Durham CT, took me until 2am. I was up at 6am, buying mountains of wood from Home Depot, and arranging for pickup by my crew… (two people, my employee and her husband). Meanwhile, I went out to see my field, and figure out how to make this thing decent.
The best way to summarize is simply that I spend all day Thursday until midnight, and all day Friday until the first heat of racers at 6pm, setting up the course. We barely got it done in time, as there were only myself and two others for almost that entire time. Saturday morning as the race was ready to being, there was myself and Kathy Jo to run the entire event. Registration, starting, volunteer help on the course, directing, scoring, etc. This is a fifteen volunteer race course (minimum), and there were only two of us.
It was at this moment, that I felt like things couldn’t possibly get worse. I had already weathered complaints about the race, as I had informed participants that they would be re-doing obstacles, and running a loop. So as I sat there preparing the last bit of morning setup before that first heat, I was at a point of simple surrender. There was nothing left for me to do, no help was there, people were showing up by the droves to get into their heats, so if we didn’t start, we would simply fall further and further behind.
At this moment, I gave it up to God. And simply trusted that whatever happened would be what happened, and we would go from there. I am a Christian, I believe the guy who died on the cross 2,000+ years ago, was the son of God. So I really have no limitation on what could or could not come from Him in an instant… but this instant was great. In the moment of despair, when there was no hope for success, and the only expectation I had was sheer disappointment from every participant… I was given peace.
Later that night, as I reviewed the event with two of the volunteers (they showed up later), they recapped the day as awesome. They thought it was all smooth (the one ran in our first heat – and saw the whole day), and described the finishers comments as all being very positive. It was miraculous, and the miracle gave me great strength as I wrapped up the weekend and prepared for the flight back.
Of course, the vocal minority took it to us for the problems that we had with the event, and that is hard to handle, especially knowing that they are right in many respects. But in the fifteen minutes before the event started on Saturday morning, I saw no other solution but refunding money to hundreds of people, and losing thousands of dollars in the process (the event was barely over break event, an expectation the first time you run an event in a region, due to obstacle costs). So to go from that place, to 80-90% satisfied, is fantastic, and nothing less than miraculous with only two people running the event.
In your moments of despair, regardless of what they are, I would tell you to surrender, hopefully to God, but if not Him, then to the idea that it is out of your control. Start there and see what happens. Some of you have stood in my stress workshop in the last five years, so you know that I have dealt with closing 7 offices… well 6 of 7, you come to the 1. And that during that time, the IRS decided to do an inquisition into both my personal and business life. It was a rough time, but quickly became so rough that the only choice I had, was surrender. It works, because reality is that there are so many things beyond your control.
I advise you to take control of what you can (health decisions), and then release those things that you don’t control. Be well, be still and at peace, and be blessed. – Dr. E