Something from my training with Landmark Education that has stuck with me over the years is the power of being unreasonable. What do I mean by being unreasonable? It’s very simple – it’s all about having reasons not to do something…and then doing it anyway.
Sometimes there are perfectly valid reasons for not taking something on. For example, if I were about to set out on a road trip and learned that there’s freezing rain in the short-term forecast I’d likely choose to change my travel plans. I’ve driven in freezing rain before and know how hazardous this condition can be. In this case my reason for staying put is based on valuable experiences from the past.
I’m going to focus on the other type of reasons that keep us from cruising down the highway of life – those reasons that are born out of ingrained patterns stemming from events in our pasts and cultural conditioning. Sometimes these patterns are so subtle that we’re not even aware of the reasons that are holding us back. By bringing a heightened level of awareness to our actions and inactions there’s an opportunity to experience life at a whole new level and to serve as a role model for others.
When I think about being unreasonable in my own life one example that comes to mind is my decision to participate in the Ride to Conquer Cancer in 2009, a 260km (160 mile) cycling trip from Vancouver to Seattle to raise money for the BC Cancer Foundation. What made this decision particularly unreasonable is that at the time I was going through an aggressive course of chemotherapy and was facing a major surgery. Some days I barely had enough energy to walk more than a few steps and wasn’t even completely sure that I was going to survive long enough to even attempt this athletic challenge. I had a laundry list of reasons not to register and went ahead and registered anyway. Having the boldness to register induced feelings of optimism and excitement. I committed to training for this challenge and to honouring my health throughout the process. All that I really had to lose was the registration fee and perhaps an ounce of pride.
Within weeks of completing my cancer treatments I enlisted the services of a personal trainer and began the process of getting back into shape. It was slow going at first, but I gradually started to feel my strength come back and continued to focus on my goal. After being given the thumbs up from my oncologist I set out on my cycling journey with 1,700 other unreasonable people. I’ll never forget the feeling of exhilaration that I experienced as I crossed the finish line and hope that my personal victory served to inspire others who come face-to-face with cancer.
I continue to practice being unreasonable and continue to reap the rewards. Sometimes it’s something as simple as having a conversation with someone that I had reasons not to have and saying “yes” to something that takes me outside my comfort zone. I’m inspired to create positive change in the world and realize that this is an inherently unreasonable ambition. All the more reason to continue practicing being unreasonable.
The next time you notice yourself feeling stuck I invite you to take a good look at the reasons that are holding you back. Assuming there’s no freezing rain in the forecast, why not set aside your reasons and notice what’s possible once they’re out of the way? And then boldly move forward and experience the freedom and fulfilment of life on the open road.