Why Discomfort is Necessary for Growth

Blog
ITF Staff
July 30, 2019

“Every day we come in, we should move dirt. Some days you get a shovel, some days you get a spoon. But either way, you move the dirt.” – John Welbourn

The first time I heard this quote was one week after I signed up for my first IronMan. At the time, I didn’t realize how impactful those words were. Now, however, they have completely changed my perspective on training.

Let’s rewind. I’ve been in the fitness world for more than 10 years. Whether it was football, functional fitness or most recently — weightlifting. Through all of these phases, I developed an appreciation for hard work, though it never felt especially “hard.” I genuinely enjoyed all of these endeavors, so the grind of training didn’t seem so bad. But I have also always loved a good challenge.

So a few months ago, I decided to jump off the deep end. I signed up for the most difficult Triathlon event in the world — The IronMan. For those of you unfamiliar with the IronMan, it consists of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile run. None of these events are my cup of tea, and when you combine them all, it adds up to be my nightmare.

In the past, I’ve gravitated toward events that I knew I would be good at. Not anymore. And within the first week, I had already contemplated quitting and going back to weightlifting. I was so far behind where I felt I should be. Then, all the sudden, booming through my headphones, comes this quote…

“Every day we come in, we should move dirt. Some days you get a shovel, some days you get a spoon. But either way, you move the dirt.” – John Welbourn 

This isn’t that earth shattering of a concept, but it spoke to me so heavily in that moment. I needed to quit looking at the mountain of work in front of me and instead focus on the task at hand. MOVE THE DIRT! I started with a spoon. I just wasn’t seeing the progress. But, I kept digging into the training and focusing on the task at hand. That pulled me out of a very negative head space and honestly, a bit of a funk.

The reason I share this with you is because all of us have goals. Some are in fitness, others are business or even financial or family. Nonetheless, one of the traits of quality goal setting is picking something that is at the border of your capacity. This means you are going to be pushed — sometimes to a breaking point. You have to break that goal down into small spoonfuls (or shovels) full of dirt. We are always on the journey to breaking down our mountainous goal.

I feel like too often in our society we are urged closer to comfort. We don’t have a need to do uncomfortable things each day, so why would we? You don’t have to hunt your food. You can sleep in safety every night. Hell, you can go to a faucet and get clean water at any time of the day… these are things we take for granted. So I want to urge you to push out of your comfort zone. Find the thing that scares you and lean into it. Go after discomfort, and I promise you that you will emerge a more driven and a more well-rounded human.

This post comes from Caleb Burchfield. Caleb coaches in Birmingham, Alabama. 

ITF Staff

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