Do Something That Scares You

I’m anxious about the email I sent to Ethan. 

Dear Ethan,

Hope your summer has been fruitful.  If you don't remember me, we met at a Synapse meeting and then had lunch after which you gave me a tour of your great facility.  You were struggling a bit with mornings at the time and we discussed some strategies for you.  I was impressed with you, your wife and your commitment.  Our time together stuck in my mind.

...And I need to get outside of my comfort zone....this is where you and Phoenix come in.  I'd like to train in jiu-jitsu because it scares me a bit and I'd like to write a regular blog about my experience/learnings as a beginner in this martial art.  It would hopefully get you some more "looks" and I would be demonstrating to my potential clients that I am walking the talk because I'm often having them do things outside of their comfort zone.  I also need to have a way to chart my progress to help with the blogging and to make it more concrete in my own mind.

So does that sound like a cool plan?

What would be the best way to begin?  I'm a newbie, so I'm putting myself in your capable hands.



What if I get hurt?  

What if I hate jiu-jitsu?

What if he thinks I’m a bonehead?  

What am I thinking, beginning a martial art at 47 years old?

(I don’t even really know what jiu-jitsu is yet other than a grappling martial art which has become wildly popular.) 

One of the reasons I sent the email to Ethan at Phoenix Fitness and Martial Arts was because I’d gotten fat.  Fifteen pounds in 9 months fat.  I’m now 30 pounds over my ideal weight.  My little bits of discipline have produced nothing but a larger belly and the opportunity to buy new pants.  I was sick of seeing my big stomach.  I cannot imagine what my wife thinks, so I don’t think about it. 

I had been working out regularly since mid-summer.  After listening to a Tim Ferriss podcast with Coach Sommers of, and seeing the results of guys my age, I was sold.  The Gymnastic Strength Training is lots of mobility (strength plus flexibility) and core work, which I desperately need.  Because Coach Sommers coached Olympic gymnasts, and because most mobility is contingent on connective tissue, the program is beautifully and intelligently incremental.  He doesn’t want anyone to get injured and not be able to train.  So I wasn’t feeling pushed out of my comfort zone, yet.

Ultimately my goals include having the best mobility that I’ve ever had.  This will take a minimum of two years, more like five, in all reality.  Incremental is good.  I’m not in the mood to get injured and just add more body fat to the 25% I already carry around. 

As a relationship, executive, and strategic coach, I often invite clients to do something new, something seemingly scary.  When they do, they begin to see how they are capable of so much more than they originally thought possible.  Physically, I had not challenged myself for a long time and stuck with it. 

In 2015, I decided I would run a 50 miler.  Now, I’d never run more than 10 miles at one time, but because it scared me, I took on the training.  Once I built up to running over two hours at a time, I found I was in a brain fog for days.  The fog was like a hangover that hung on.  I changed my diet, my fluids, hot and cold showers, whatever; nothing budged the fog--if I had run for over two hours.  I stopped running.  I felt so much better.  So much for that challenge.

I spent the next several months doing very little for my physical health.  In the spring of 2016, the pounds began to come on and my waist began to expand.  These inches and pounds were unlike others I had gained, they didn’t want to come off.  Now, I’ll admit I wasn’t perfectly disciplined, but who is?  

Finally, I got frustrated and knew I needed a bigger change, a challenge.  I also needed to build my “inner citadel” (Ryan Holiday) -- the mental and physical toughness to deal with conflict and challenge differently.  (More on my neurosis in later posts)

Then I heard Tim Ferriss interview Jocko Willink.  Willink is a former Navy Seal and a real badass.  In his second podcast, Jocko told the listeners to practice/train jiu-jitsu because it was the best mind and body training he had ever done.  

He was speaking to me.  I listened to my intuition which said, “Email Ethan.”

That’s when the anxious questions began.