During a conversation about short-term goals in early December, I shared with my friend/coach, Corey, that I wanted to get onto the BIG box in the next 30 days.  To clarify, I meant that I wanted to graduate to doing box jumps on the 30-inch box.  If you are not familiar, a box jump is an fairly frightening exercise where you stand in front of a tall box and in one swift, explosive movement try to jump high enough to propel yourself onto the top without destroying your shins and knees or face planting on the other side.  This is the BIG box…

For almost a year, I had been doing box jumps on the 24-inch box and while the extra 6 inches doesn’t seem like much, the difference is vast when you’re (don’t laugh) 5’2″ tall.  
True story.
Needless to say, I’ve never been much of a jumper (shocker) and the thought of missing that jump by just a fraction of an inch, sending me crashing into the box (and the resulting damage to my shins) was downright paralyzing.  No matter how pumped up I got about landing that jump, when I stood in front of that BIG box, my legs flat out ignored the signals my brain was sending telling them to jump.  And for the longest time, I was okay with that- I mean, jumping is not really my thing and if I screwed it up I could get hurt pretty badly.  I was content to say that I can’t do a 30-inch box jump…but no more.  Even though it scared the crap out of me, I was ready to commit to making it happen and to be sure that I took that commitment seriously, I was going to give myself 30 days to get it done.

So Corey developed a plan that was intended to make me feel strong enough to- as he put it- “jump over the box”.  If I didn’t have so much faith in his skills (the man is a genius) I would have been more skeptical but I couldn’t help but wonder how he was going to come up with a workout that would rid me of crippling fear?  How can you turn a scared, vertically-challenged non-jumper into a box jumping beast?  On December 12th, he unveiled a laundry list of exercises (I’m using the term “exercise” here very loosely) of varying degrees of complexity and with that “Project BIG Box” was launched.  Since then, my jumping parts have hated me.

Almost, every day I worked on that jump. I worked and I worked, repeating the same exercises over and over.  The more I did it, the more I began to understand that this wasn’t about building leg strength and power; the true purpose of this process was to develop the confidence to know that I was already strong enough to make that leap.  I had to learn to get out of my own way.  Then this morning, a mere nine days after I started, I jumped onto the BIG box.  Apparently, I CAN do a 30-inch box jump, with ease as it turns out- I just sort of floated to the top, piece of cake. 

But this is not really about the BIG box.  The BIG box is a metaphor.  I’ve heard it a hundred times: “I’m not a…”, “I can’t…”, “I don’t…”  I too have been guilty of this, over the years spouting off such things as: “I’m not a runner”, “I can’t swim”, “I’m not built to jump high”, “I’m not a sprinter”…all B.S.

What’s the REAL barrier?  As I found out, it’s usually not ability- we’re capable of so much more than we know.  For me, most often, it’s plain old fear of failure.  I let that fear drive the bus sometimes, deciding that inaction is better than trying and failing.  It’s easier for me to say that “I’m not built to jump high” or “I can’t swim” than it is to put the work into making things happen, especially knowing that in the end despite all my efforts I may not succeed.  What I’m learning is that when I avoid situations because I’m afraid to fail, I settle back in, staying where I am, doing what I’ve always done.  But while “where I am” may be just fine for now, it’s not where I ultimately want to be.  
Another true story.
Fear may stop you from getting hurt, help you avoid uncomfortable situations, and keep you from screwing up, but it may also keep you from being the person you want to be and seeing what you are truly capable of.  I look back now and think how different my life would be if I had continued to buy into my own B.S.  There’s so much I would have missed.  Turns out, I AM a runner, I CAN jump high, and I AM a sprinter (the jury’s still out on the swimming- but I’m working on it in 2014 so stay tuned).  If you open your eyes to other possibilities, you may just find (as I did) a whole lotta awesome stuff along the way. 

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