As a strength and conditioning coach, my only goal was to out-work, out-train, out-learn, and out-coach everyone else. It was the reason I got out of bed every day, and I demanded the same level of excellence from the people I worked with. Their wins were my wins, and every success drove me to strive harder and double my efforts. During my time in collegiate athletics, our team won back-to-back national championships in NCAA Division I men’s ice hockey. As a result of those successes, I was offered a chance to train professional hockey players and a trip to meet the president at the White House.
By the world’s standards, I was on top of my game. By my own standards, it wasn’t enough. No matter how much I accomplished, or how many wins I attained, there was always a voice inside me that told me I was a fraud. I didn’t deserve this kind of success. I didn’t belong here. So I fought to prove that I did deserve it. I woke up earlier, worked later, and pushed harder. Striving felt noble because I was helping other people achieve their own goals. I continued to achieve, and it led to greater opportunity. Again.
I was offered a job training Navy SEALs, and I felt like I was graduating to a greater mission in life. Although it was intimidating to walk away from the career I had built in college athletics, I loved the idea of using my talents to serve those who had given so much to my way of life. Instead of coaching athletes who competed for fun and glory, I would train warriors for the fight of their lives. I would train men to protect their country and each other. But even the new opportunity wasn’t enough. I was caught in a cycle of striving for success, achieving success, feeling unfulfilled, and then striving even harder. No matter what I achieved, I never felt satisfied. I felt out of place. I desperately wanted to silence the whispers that had haunted me for years. The whispers that told me I was weak. Unloved. Unaccepted. Unsuccessful.
The battle was destroying me, and everything around me.
My unrelenting drive cost me valuable time with my family, my friends, and my God. I wasn’t sleeping well and I was angry, and my wife was worried about my mental health. I retreated into myself and put up walls to keep everyone else out.
During my time with the SEALs, I had the greatest win of my career when the sailors I trained accomplished their own personal victory. And then I walked through the greatest tragedy of my career when several of the SEALs I trained were killed in combat. I suddenly realized just how futile all the striving was. I felt vulnerable and exposed. If winning made me successful, what would happen now? I had given these men my very best, and it hadn’t been enough. Suddenly, I wasn’t the hero anymore. It wasn’t me that had sacrificed on their behalf, but them who had sacrificed for me. And everything in my life shifted that day.
For too long, I had found my identity, even my self-worth, in my work. Most men do. For too long, the world lied to me and convinced me to focus on the wrong things, like success and achievement. For too long, I had no idea what my purpose was. But then I found a strength coach of my own. I discovered that I had been lost in the wilderness of the world and I had missed my God’s voice. My God was pursuing me, but I was seeking other things; I was trying to find my self-worth in the world around me. I was seeking my identity in all the wrong places. I discovered that God had been with me all the time. He knew exactly who I was created to be and what I was created to accomplish. He knew my strengths, and he knew my weaknesses, and he could use them both to achieve his purposes. Perhaps your own story sounds like mine. Perhaps, like me, you’ve spent far too much time wrestling against the world: trying to find the truth about yourself, your value, and your purpose. Perhaps, like me, you’ve got the scars to show for it.
We really aren’t so different, and there’s an entire generation of men fighting the same battle we are. The good news is that my God knows exactly who you were created to be, too. He knows your strengths and weaknesses, and he has a plan for you to impact the people around you through your own mental, physical, and spiritual journey. This is a journey of self-discovery, to help men discover who their Creator says they are instead of listening to the world’s skewed assessment. It’s a journey to break free from the world’s constraints and accomplish our true mission.
It won’t be easy. It won’t be quick. But the journey will be world-changing for you and everyone around you.
The journey begins today.