You Can’t Do That! It’s Impossible! It’s Crazy!

“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” Paulo Coelho

For those of you keeping track (you know who you are!), today was day 7 of my Cold Shower challenge.

My what????

Joel Runyon, entrepreneur and adventurist, founded a company based on the idea that nothing is impossible and to reach their goals, people need to be willing to endure some discomfort on the way to success. Part of this is a challenge to take a 5 minute cold shower, every day for 30 or more days.

Yes. I know. I am crazy. That has long been established. Now that we have that label applied and out of the way, how do I survive the shower? I fire up my iPhone, get some music pumping, and turn the shower on cold. No hot water at all. (Currently, the water temperature is about 63F/17C.)  That’s the key. Start cold. Don’t start warm and then turn it down. Just get in and confront it. (I would say “Man up” but as a nurse educator, I teach my students to always be gender inclusive.) Climb in. The first 30-60 seconds are terrible. Seriously. It’s cold, but it burns, too. It will take your breath away. If the phrase “WTH am I doing????” doesn’t repeatedly go through your head, then you probably don’t have the water on ice cold.

Then what? Jump around (safely). Pump your arms. Shadow box your ice cold opponent. Maybe let loose a Norse battle cry. (Or whatever.) Do whatever you need to do to get through that first minute. Because at about that time, your mind’s voice gets tired of shouting obscenities at you, and your body starts adapting. It becomes less cold. It will never get warm, but it becomes tolerable. Really. That is not my hypothermic brain talking, you really will begin to get used to it.

Actual water temperature

It is cold. It is not impossible. In fact, it is incredible how you feel when you climb out, NEVER having turned on the warm water. I am energized! I think the reason hot showers are relaxing is that they sap energy away. Cold brings it on!

But it is not about the cold water. The cold shower is the merely vehicle through which you begin to train your mind and body. Enduring the cold is about making a decision to purposely do something that is uncomfortable. We all avoid things that we know are uncomfortable. We postpone writing that paper (or grading one.) We avoid the dentist or doctor. We decide to sleep in instead going to a walk/run.

Every time we make that decision to remain comfortable, regardless of the context, it makes avoiding discomfort easier next time. And sometimes, the discomfort is the price of success. Likewise, the longterm price of immediate comfort can be devastating (increased stress on the job from an ever-increasing workload, poor health, and weight gain.)

I tell my students that you cannot learn by staying within your comfort zone. Learning and growth occurs when we step beyond what we have already mastered and risk failing at something new. I try to “walk the walk” and lead by example.

We purposely eat less than we want and less than we have in the past (which causes some discomfort) and we exercise more (which may be major discomfort). However, because we voluntarily endured discomfort, we lose weight. If you are in sales, making cold calls can be very uncomfortable, but if you don’t do it, you won’t sell anything. No sales means no income and that can be even more uncomfortable! We stay up late into the night when we would prefer to be sleeping so that we can finish an important assignment. We are frequently given choices, and sometimes the temporary discomfort is the price we must pay for longer term happiness.

Avoiding pain and danger makes sense, but cold water isn’t painful nor is it dangerous. And it gives you the frame of mind that says “What else can I conquer today?”

Has it been a dream of mine to take cold showers? No! (What are you, nuts? I LOVE hot showers.) But I also want to grow beyond my current limits, and I want to help others grow, too. That WILL require me to step outside my comfort zone. I am training myself now so that I am mentally prepared for my future challenges. And we all experience challenges.

  • Why not start learning to face challenges head on, right now?
  • Why not show yourself that discomfort is temporary but conquering it is empowering?
  • What impossible challenge are you going to attempt today?

“The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a man’s determination.” Tommy Lasorda

For more information, go to Joel Runyon’s website:
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By the way, I learned of Joel Runyon and his Cold Shower Challenge on Meron Bareket’s “Inspiring Innovation” podcast #29 http://meronbareket.com/how-to-do-the-impossible/

If you haven’t listened to Meron’s podcast, you should give it a try! He interviews entrepreneurs who we may not have heard about (yet), and reveals their success stories, providing weekly life lessons that we can use to improve our lives and empower us to achieve greatness. (Yeah, I am a fan!) 
Posted in Challenge, Change, Fear, Motivation
2 comments on “You Can’t Do That! It’s Impossible! It’s Crazy!
  1. Hey Trevor!

    Thanks so much for mentioning me & the podcast. It’s amazing to me that it resonated with you and that you are doing this challenge – and may I say – ROCKING IT! You are a huge inspiration.

    I was thinking about this post today as I was listening to Hotel California during my CST. The line “this could be heaven, this could be hell” made me smile. Because it’s so true about CST – it can (and is) both. The first 30 seconds are hell, the rest are heaven 🙂

    At the end of the day, the only way to make something meaningful (and successful) is to step out of the comfort zone and try something that might fail. And CST, as you described it yourself – knocks the comfort zone in its face till it begs for mercy!!

    Keep it up, I can’t wait to see where this journey will take you.

    Your friend,
    Meron

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