I did it! I totally 100% reached my goal of being on American Ninja Warrior!!! It’s just that the rest of the world doesn’t know it yet because I TOTALLY FAILED to get on to the show this season.
And I couldn’t be more thrilled about it. Crazy, right?
I wanted it so badly I could taste it. I put everything I had into this mission: spent money on a sexy ass audition video, worked up the courage to share my personal story of redemption, called in favors to ask people for help sharing my story, spent days away from my wife and newborn baby traveling to obstacle gyms in Connecticut and Tennessee so I can practice on replica obstacles, and trained my ass off in general.
I committed to this goal 100%. And I failed. 100%. My best efforts were not enough to get on the show. When I first found out, of course I was sad, even shocked. “But I’m perfect for the show!” I was even envious.
I Was Born For This: Part Little Boy, Part Ninja Spider Monkey
Ever since I was three years old, I’ve been climbing the craziest stuff I could find – even before I could walk. And as soon as I could walk I created my own natural little boy version of parkour. The proof I wear with pride on my chin, which I split open when I was left alone for too long and used my brief moments of freedom to climb onto a chair so I could climb onto a table so I could reach a chandelier.
My mother walked into the room just in time to see me swinging off the chandelier and landing splat on my belly, splitting my chin wide open. As my mother tells it, the blood didn’t faze me; I was possessed with a look of exhilaration.
I was LITERALLY born to climb shit, so how could they not pick me?
The Alchemy Of Failure
For a few days I alternated from shock to envy to disappointment, to sadness – not the easiest emotion-cocktail to digest.
But rather quickly (after a day or so) I was able to get off of that roller coaster of toxic emotions (thanks to my meditation practice, which allows me to #RemainCurious) and see my entire quest in a new light.
I’d gained so much by pursuing this goal with all my heart!
My spiritual teacher is a master of many things, including metaphors. He once told me that a true master of life is like an expert archer who carries around a red bucket of paint. The archer refines his skills, knows which targets are within reach, picks the right one and if he “misses” his target, he simply walks up and paints a red dot around it.
It’s not hard for me to see how many beautiful things I’ve gained in pursuit of this quest:
- I’m stronger than ever. I set a new personal record in my pullup: 2 reps with 100lbs!
- I started competing again and got 2nd place at a ninja competition in February! (Video below)
- I learned how to do the salmon ladder, flying bar, warped wall, dancing poles, unstable bridges and a bunch of other fun obstacles.
- I got more creative with my training. As a goof, I challenged myself to do 100 pullups in under 10 minutes and was able to do it on my second try.
- I fell back in love with rock climbing.
- I finally started doing parkour after years of delay – and fell in love with it immediately. I now can do a front flip and a back flip for the first time in my life!
- I overcame a tremendous amount of fear around sharing my personal mythology.
- I met truly amazing and inspiring people and learned a lot from them about how to train and build obstacles, Luis, Justin, Brooke, and Bobby most notably.
Ain’t No Half Steppin’: You Gotta Be All In
But perhaps the most interesting and powerful discovery was about how truly committed I am to this path. Not only am I not de-motivated to train, I’ve never been more motivated in my life! I can happily keep training like a ninja for the next 5+ years – and never get bored, keep getting stronger, keep learning new things, meeting more awesome people and take my training to ridiculously creative heights!
And I think it’s precisely because I committed so completely to this goal that I got so much out of failure. If I’d only half committed, I wouldn’t have gained so much. So perhaps failure is not the enemy, but rather weak commitments.
And besides, the little boy in me doesn’t climb to achieve life goals, he climbs for the sheer thrill of it. We could all learn a lot from him, me thinks.
Goal Assessment: Putting Failure to Work
These were my four goals that I outlined in part 1 of my American Ninja Warrior Quest:
- I intend to strengthen, heal and empower myself by committing to a massive goal and learning every step of the way, regardless of whether the lessons will be painful or uncomfortable.
- I want to help reclaim the ninja archetype as a holistic path to empowerment through movement.
- I intend to inspire people to practice movement by sharing my life story (of using movement to overcome drug addiction).
- I am going to build a “Ninja Temple of Movement”, a new kind of school that puts holistic human development at its foundation. It’s a symbol to help transform the entire education system through movement.
I can honestly say that I achieved #1. My heavy training brought out an imbalance in my upper extremity that connects to an old impact injury to my spine. Once I sensed this imbalance in a new way, I was able to begin to heal it and bring it back in alignment. This was a piece of the puzzle in my healing that had evaded me for a long time.
And with goals #3 and #4 I made serious progress on. Over 7,000 people watched my audition video and around 150 shared it on Facebook and Twitter. Messages poured in, some from strangers, thanking me for sharing my story. People believe in my vision of radical self-transformation through movement and this, more than anything else, is the reason why I’m more motivated and committed than ever to the path I’ve chosen.
And for that reason, I feel more compelled than ever to pursue my dreams, no matter how weird or different they may be.
The Journey Ahead
This year around 70,000 people applied for only 600 spots on the show. If I’m going to get on American Ninja Warrior (and I will), I’m going to have to call on my inner and outer strength like never before and face newer and deeper fears as a surge towards the bright light of broadcast TV. And then, soon enough, the rest of the world will catch on and I am an American Ninja Warrior.
I hope you’ll continue with me along the ride to total victory! Thank you so much for supporting me, it means everything to me. The more people that believe in me, the more powerful I become and the more people we can help.
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