Move Forward or Die

5:45AM. Who wakes up this early in the morning when it’s cold with Seattle rain threatening? I was supposed to be at the track by 5:30AM. It’s still a struggle dragging myself out of bed.

But I’ve learned that when I do make it out, the rest of the day feels like it falls into place.

I was feeling pretty fast today. Everything was in sync — my legs churning, my arms moving, lungs pumping, and heart beating.

Then I heard footsteps and rigorous breathing getting closer and closer coming up on the inside lane on my left. I could feel the determination and knew I better move out of the way or be moved.

It was Iris flying by me — petite, compact, and like a hurricane. She recently placed 1st in SF Marathon Female Masters level.

She’s kind of a legend in the running group. You watch in awe and wonder, “how is she so fast?”

“People ask me if I ran track in high school or college.”

In fact, she shared that she started running just 3 years ago, with the exception of regular warm up jogging on a treadmill before workout classes.

“You’ve made a lot of progress in just three years,” I said.

She chuckled a bit. “There were A LOT of ups and downs in those three years.”

On the surface, it’s easy to look at someone like Iris who is having success and think that it is unachievable or that you might not be capable of doing the same.

I know that I’ve been guilty of this. “Since I’m not outgoing enough/tall enough/smart enough/competitive enough, of course she can do that and I can’t.”

In 5th grade, I remember being terrified to move on to 6th grade. I didn’t know if I would be able to handle the classes, the workload, or the responsibility.

I made it through 6th grade. Then I made it through 7th grade. Eventually, I graduated with a medical degree. I was the guy in college who swore NEVER to take general chemistry because I was not a science guy.

When I started training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, I felt the same sense of “I don’t know what the hell I’m doing!” I still feel this way all the time and probably look like it.

I realize that I will probably always have these doubts and fears floating around in my brain. This makes taking the next step often feel like leaping over a gaping chasm without a running start.

Self doubt has been one of those traits I wanted to change about myself. I often wondered, “How do other people seem so confident?” It felt like self doubt held me back from living a full life — too scared to take the next step.

But I have to also credit my self doubt and fear for where I am today.

Self doubt can take us down one of two roads — stay the same or move forward and staying the same is just as good as dying. Luckily, there were a few times I was either forced to move forward or I decided to move forward despite being scared. Sometimes I failed and sometimes I didn’t, but either way, I would learn something about myself.

If I can take one step, I can take two. If I can run one mile, I can run twenty-six point two. If I can help one person, I can help many more.

Keep taking that next step. Keep going. Keep struggling. Keep at it until something happens. Until. That’s the key. Until. Keep going until it happens, whatever it is for you.

Keep moving forward because you will surprise yourself how far you get. The alternative is just as good as dying.