BL&T No. 087: The Joy in New Challenges

Personal Growth

This post originally appeared in my newsletter, Borrowed, Learned, & Thought. BL&T is sent weekly on Mondays. In every edition, I share lessons learned in agency leadership, life, and e-commerce. This post does not include all the details shared in the newsletter sent via email. Subscribe here.


"In a little book titled Painting as a Pastime, Churchill spoke eloquently of a reliance on new activities that use other parts of our minds and bodies to relieve the areas where we are overworked. “The cultivation of a hobby and new forms of interest is therefore a policy of first importance to a public man,” he wrote. “To be really happy and really safe, one ought to have at least two or three hobbies, and they must all be real.”

From "Stillness is the Key" by Ryan Holiday [Book]


On Friday, my family and I got to see my younger brother Justin perform live (tap dancing) for the first time in I'm not sure how long. It was great to watch him dance again. You could feel the passion radiate from the stage as he made his way around.

Directed by an organization called Tap Ties, the show was in celebration of National Tap Dance Day. Justin has been performing in it since he was eight years old! Here's a clip of Justin from his appearance on "So You Think You Can Dance."

Tap Ties offers classes from starter to master level, so the show featured an array of performers. Some of my favorite acts were with older folks who could easily find an excuse to sit idle but instead spent their Friday night on stage dancing in front of a room full of strangers.

It wasn't until a few years ago that I understood the power of throwing myself into new interests and passions. For years, I let the "busyness" of life be an excuse to focus only on the "givens" of life: family, friends, work, and when there was time, the activities I know and love. There's nothing wrong with this, but I didn't realize the opportunities I was missing to learn, widen my perspective, and grow.

The shift came when I found myself on stage at my first powerlifting competition in 2019. It wasn't as much about the competition as the personal milestones along the way, the experience of showing up every time, discovering what I'm capable of, and learning something new at every step.

It felt good to be a beginner.

It felt good to immerse myself in an unknown world and learn as much as possible to find my place in it.

It felt good to connect with a group of people united by their shared passion. People I may have never connected with otherwise.

It felt good to be challenged, so much that at the moment, nothing else mattered but getting through a workout or improving a lift.

I learned that making time for what didn't seem like a priority only served to strengthen how I showed up in other areas of my life. I stopped making it a habit to work late and "get ahead." No matter what kind of day I was having, I came home from workouts with a clearer mind and a lifted spirit.

I learned that there was a path to center, not dictated by the ebbs and flows of external circumstances, but one I could control. I learned to prioritize the process, not fixate on the outcome.

I used to think powerlifting was it for me, but I've since found similar and new benefits from exploring other interests and getting out of my comfort zone. Writing this newsletter, learning to ride a motorcycle, and bringing home a puppy are all examples. I'm grateful for all the lessons learned so far.

Seeing the performances on Friday was a welcome reminder to keep challenging myself (and keep moving!) as I grow older. There will be a lot pulling me in different directions, but I think continuing to deepen that path to center will continue to be critical in living a good life, no matter what comes my way.

Let’s dig into some themes and thoughts from last week.

Thought Starter

What would I love to try but make excuses not to take the leap? How might I feel if I gave it a go? What am I missing out on by saying no?

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