An Excerpt of #FreedomChallenge

Self-growth is mandatory in the military and athletic worlds, there’s no opting out and declining isn’t an option. Each year of service or competition requires a stronger and smarter version of you. You’re coached, mentored and there’s professional development to encourage you to be your best mental and physical self. Getting out of the military or stopping competing separates you from the built-in challenges those worlds provide. Veterans and athletes need challenges, that’s the type of people we are. The struggles and adversity we face in our lives aren’t what make life difficult, they’re what make our lives worth living because a challenging life is a purposeful life.

The #FreedomChallenge is about demanding more from yourself and regaining your edge. It’s easy after our past challenges to let that inner fire die out and settle into cruise control within a more comfortable life. But if growth is the goal, then comfort becomes the enemy. Instead of viewing pain and discomfort as the stimulus for growth, we’ve attempted to eliminate it from our lives. It’s time we re-introduce ourselves to the benefits of challenges and beauty of discomfort. This is the day to be better than who you were yesterday and in 90 days to be the best you that has ever existed.

Veterans forged this country through blood, sweat, and tears. The greatest moments in American history were Veterans and everyday people facing the toughest of times with courage and conviction. Servicemembers are exposed to a level of hardship most people will never encounter. Veterans have pushed past their limits and faced the unknown in the worst of conditions. Every Veteran has been hungry, dehydrated and sleep deprived. That adversity in the military brings out the best in the men and women that serve. The military forges a team and unites them in a common vision. Veterans don’t run away from a fight, they run to it – this challenge embodies that warrior spirit.

Athletes are competitors, the driving force is to win. There are early morning practices, difficult training, and a desire for constant improvement. We’re not only drawn to sports because of the trophies-we’re drawn for the chance to test ourselves. We crave discipline and the pursuit of clear goals. We love how sports brings people together, gives us something to cheer for, and the raw energy of competition. Athletes are teammates, striving together for victory. An athlete’s identity is tied into their sport and stopping competing can remove them from not only their sport, but from themselves. Success in the athletic world never comes if pain and failure are avoided. Whether you’re a Veteran, athlete or just someone seeking growth-this is your opportunity to forge new purpose and step firmly into the arena.

Taking off the uniform means we lose the growth that service and competition provide. We leave behind that kick in the ass to get up early, push ourselves, and learn new things. Our lives fall into a routine with less stress, obstacles and opponents. There’s nothing to train for, no upcoming deployment, and no big game so you’re free to hit the snooze alarm. When we lose our team, we also lose the responsibility of being a teammate. We leave behind a higher purpose and the FreedomChallenge fills that void.

Peace has proven itself to be more dangerous for American Veterans than war, we kill ourselves more than the enemy kills us. It’s not only the stress that’s dangerous for Veterans and civilians alike, but also the lack of positive stress. The mental health epidemic in America affects everyone. Challenges build resiliency, comfort breeds complacency. The absence of risk is as dangerous as risk because without an enemy to fight, it’s easy to go to war with yourself.

When you rise to meet a challenge, it changes you. We’ve all been through the highs and lows of life, there’s no easy path to victory. Life isn’t supposed to be easy and isn’t meant to be fair. There’s always more to be done. There should never be a point in your life, no matter who you are where you just sit back and say, “that’s enough.” You’re still in competition against you, that person has always been your biggest opponent…and everything else is only practice.

There’s a difference between working hard and competing*. Other people can force you to work hard but competing comes from within. Everyone that competes works hard but not everyone that works hard competes. We’re used to competing with other people throughout our lives, from the school playground to corporate boardrooms. Michael Jordan said, “some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.” By picking up
this challenge you’re making it happen. You’re always one step away from conquering your life and today you’re taking that step.