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To Be Human Is To Have Limits

I will be the first to say that limitations suck. They come in all shapes and sizes but no matter if they are physical, financial, emotional, or mental…they suck all the same. Even as I write this entry, my skin crawls thinking about being limited from anything I want to do. 

By nature, I don’t believe in limitations. I resist. And I always will or so I thought…

You see, I’m a “Crash & Burn” kinda guy. I live life hard. It’s 120% maximum effort or nothing. Run through a brick wall, stay up all day and night, go party, wake up and do it all over again on a weeknight. That type of guy. 

I live hard. I love hard. I laugh hard. That type of guy. 

The “I don’t like boundaries, so don’t put me in a box.” type.

Amazingly, I was able to accomplish a great deal in my life. At a very young age, I took to athletics like no other. I was a three sport athlete from 7 years old until I went to college to play football at the University of Missouri. After a rockstar five years at Mizzou, I got married the semester after I graduated college. I coached strength and conditioning at Mizzou for a stint before deciding to take on Corporate America and entrepreneurship by starting a business with my best friend. On top of that, I was also still doing personal training, sports specific training, coaching high school football and writing a few books. Nineteen months into marriage, my wife and I had our first daughter, 14 months later we had our second daughter, and 22 months after that we had our third daughter. Three wonderful kids in five years, yay! We also moved six times in seven years, including relocating back to Kansas City. Although we were back in Kansas City at that time, I was a claims adjuster for the Catastrophe Team with State Farm which meant that I traveled across the country A LOT, sometimes for weeks to months at a time. That’s not even the whole story, but I wanted to give you all a better idea about what I meant by living life hard at 120%. As things continued to progress at this rate, my wife and I were beyond spread thin. The very fabric of our relationship and ultimately our household was being held together by a string. 

The course was set for crash and burn. 

I can speak wisely about this now because hindsight is 20/20. In reality, at the time,I continued to add more and more to my plate. Full of piss and vinegar and an unrelenting will to succeed, I took over a gym, ramped up involvement in the business with my best friend, and had another side job on the side of my side job. I was living 40 hours of life in 24 hours. 

I was living my life by the mantras of fools. Maybe you have heard some of them:

“Sleep is not an option.”

“Succeed or die trying.”

“Get it done, hell or high water.”

“Success at all cost.”

And I was paying a cost I would come to find out was too high. My health had deteriorated to such a low point that I lost all motivation in the things I used to enjoy; working out, reading, writing and spending time with family and friends. I spent most of my nights staying up late mindlessly watching Netflix and/or out on the town drinking too much. Many times when I was with family or friends, I was so distracted and disengaged I might as well have not been there. 

It was a terrible time in my life. Truth be told it went largely internalized until recently. I struggled to put language to what I was experiencing. I realized how much of a product of my environment, my family, my upbringing, and also the influences of our societal norms and expectations. I was working myself to death in pursuit of money to buy stuff, pay bills, and try to preserve a future life that I wouldn’t be able to experience because I would die moving at the pace I was trying to maintain.

All the while, I was neglecting my God given responsibilities as a husband and a father and that was the piece that broke me. 

I missed my oldest daughter’s 3rd birthday because I was working.

I was not as loving and supportive to my wife because I was too worried about making money to pay bills.

When I had any time to relax, I usually spent it trying to drink away my pain and feelings of anger and inadequacy.

To give some reprieve to the story, my family and I are in a much better place now by the grace of God, suffering through hard lessons learned, and a decision to stay strong and connected as a family. 

But how did I get to that point in the first place? 

That is the question I reflect on. Not for myself as much as it is to help others. 

The first problem: I was unaware that there was another way to live a fulfilled life. I did not have a true model of what a fulfilled life meant. And even knowing how important values and principles were, I simply had the wrong values and lived by the wrong principles.

Newsflash: You can never get the right outcomes with the wrong information.

The second problem: I was moving too fast. I had so much on my plate that I was not in a place to receive the things or people that were good for me in my life. I was bogged down, beat up, and exhausted with the demands of my life and the demands I imposed on myself.

Newsflash: Life comes equipped with a certain “gravitational pull” of things that you have to overcome to get lift off and fly. You don’t need to add any additional weight to the equation that makes that process more difficult.

The third problem: I was not centered in my values and principles. This problem has a compounding effect. The reason problem one existed was because I did not know what I valued, so it was guess work. I was just making stuff up or being told what I valued and never thought about who I was, how I wanted to live my life and what I truly valued.

Newsflash: Your values determine where you spend your time and money. Your principles guide your actions in all situations in your life. If you don’t know what these are, you are susceptible to having your life sped up and influenced in ways you may not want.

We all have our own stories and our own inner demons we struggle with that come to us for various reasons. The biggest thing that we can do to protect ourselves and those in our charge is do our best to raise our awareness to these things that are affecting us. 

  1. We are all leaders in some way. In our family, in a marriage, at work, as parents. How healthy we are affects every person and every thing that we are responsible for.
  2. Health is more than physical fitness. You can be physically fit and still be not healthy. We have to strive to be mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually healthy as possible so we can be our best self. We also must continue to understand these are all interconnected and effect each other directly and indirectly.

The last thing I will leave you with are signs to look for to better identify if you are dancing in a dangerous space of over extending yourself. Part of my recentering came by getting my relationship with God back on track. During that time a dear friend of mine gave me a book called Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership by Ruth Haley Barton. In the book, she discusses the tendency we have to overexert ourselves in life with no regard for our true capacity to get things done. I will paraphrase her notes on things to be aware of, but if you want more details please go get the book. It is a must read.

9 Signs You Are Overextended:

  1. You are irritable and hypersensitive. Things that should not be a big deal like getting cut off in traffic or someone making a minor mistake send you into a tirade, externally or internally.
  2. You suffer from restlessness. When it is time to rest you can not settle down and get comfortable. Your sleeping patterns are broken and your mind will not shut off.
  3. You compulsively overwork. You cannot shut down your work, even when your schedule allows for it. You work on vacation, you work at the dinner table, in the late night hours you get out of bed to work. You have no boundaries on your work.
  4. You are emotionally numb. Barton talks about how it takes energy to experience and process a full range of emotions. If we are at capacity, we simply cannot do it.
  5. You exhibit escapist behaviors. At any moment you catch a break, you spend the time trying to find a way out of real life. It could be overeating, binge drinking, or drug abuse. We choose life draining activities instead of activities that will give us life
  6. You are disconnected from your identity and calling. You lose sight of your purpose and what you are supposed to do and fall prey to external expectations on your life.
  7. You aren’t able to meet basic human needs. The basic needs fall by the wayside: exercise, cleaning the house, sleeping enough, going to the doctor, etc. 
  8. You begin to hoard your energy. You become so spread thin that you purposely recluse from anything that you feel will take more of our energy, even if it is the healthy fruitful things in your life.
  9. You begin to slip in your spiritual practices. Whether it is going to church, meditation, writing, solitude and prayer, you lose the taste for things that once gave you the spirit of energy and power. 

I hate to admit it, but we have limits. We only have so much strength, so much capacity that we bring into our day to day life. We have to use it wisely, and we have to protect it with our life. We have to learn how to say no, we have to learn when enough is enough, and again we have to keep our antennas up to sense ourselves slipping into these self destructive spaces. 

I love you all. I hope this message helps you, in some way, get closer to being free. I want nothing but for you to live the life you were designed to live, so you can be fruitful and prosper.


Coach Steve

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