“I drag my chains, they don’t drag me”
This line from the song, “Screaming at the Moon”, by the band Modern Life is War I found particularly suited for ringing in the new year. It motivated the hell out of me. And I find motivation in lots of different places.
My eyes are always peeled for an interesting story that will get me fired up. Something to whet my appetite for continued travel down the never ending road of self-discovery and improvement. Always happy to listen to another’s philosophy of life, their trials and tribulations, their hard fought lessons that were learned.
When I heard the words, “I drag my chains, they don’t drag me”, bellowed with an angry growl to the back drop of grinding guitars and thundering drums it immediately grabbed my attention. It created an instant visual on the movie screen between my ears.
Picture your hands bound.
Cuffs of iron tightly encasing your wrists.
Flesh a bit raw from their angry bite.
You see the chain hanging from your wrists.
Its cumbersome weight pulling at your shoulders.
It is laid out for as far as the eye can see, from where it touches the ground at your feet, far off into the gray distance.
With a sharp ringing the chain becomes taught and your body suddenly and violently gets jerked forward.
You stumble, but catch yourself and keep your feet beneath you.
The pace quickens. The pace slows.
You stop again.
Another sharp jerk on the chain pulls you forward.
You’re not sure you will be able to keep up.
Footing is lost and face first you meet the ground.
It doesn’t stop. It doesn’t care. It’s not going to stop.
You continue to get dragged across the ground.
Somehow you manage to right yourself. Determined not to fall again you keep tension on the chains in order to steady yourself and try to anticipate its next move.
Then is stops again.
This cycle is never ending. You have no control.
You are a prisoner to whatever it is dragging you through life.
That’s what played through my mind when I thought hard about what it meant to get dragged in chains. I think most of you can imagine a similar scene.
Now let’s create a different image. You are still shackled. You are still bound by chains. But you are facing the opposite direction.
Behind you, at the end of your chains is an immense weight, but the weight is nothing compared to the potential found in the blank canvass of the world that is stretched out before your eyes.
Nothing is tugging at you.
You choose when to move, how fast to move, when to rest, how hard to pull.
Fatigue, strain, chaffing, sweating, doubt, struggle, tears all dance in your head and heart. But you are in control.
No longer a passenger, you are able to plow your own path, find your own way.
With that simple 180 degree turn, what was once a curse is now a burden borne of choice; a labor of love.
You are now dragging your chains.
2019 was a great year.
Every morning I woke up an American. I was not getting shot at. My family loved me. I had chow in my belly and a roof over my head. I got to drive down roads and not look for the next IED before it found me.
Hard to believe, but it got even better.
I faced some tough decisions. I made personal choices that absolutely rocked my family and resulted in about 50% of the people in my life very unhappy. I made business decisions that put me further in debt than I’d care to share in this blog. I had to deal head on with some issues at my place of business that made some people very uncomfortable and me not very popular.
So I did what I was trained to do. I hooked up the chains. And I started dragging it all.
There were days where the chains felt heavy. I didn’t know if I had the strength to lift them. I didn’t know if I had the time required to move them. I didn’t know if I even knew where the hell I needed to bring them.
So I did what my heart told me to do.
I leaned into the chains and put every ounce of energy into moving them. 18 hours days? Yep. 10 day work weeks? Yep. Accept help from those around me? Hell yes! Trust my gut? Yep. When in doubt pull harder? You know it.
You know what happened as a result of it all? My business grew. I led two teams to a 1st and 2d place finish at The Catalyst Games. I outfitted and moved into a new building that I own (with an incredible amount of help from untold numbers of the UNLEASHED). I nurtured and improved the relationships with my family and those I love. While there is so much more to work on with my family, I am making inroads. I know as long as I keep dragging the chains I will get those relationships to where I want them to be.
I am not the only one that has seen challenges over the past year (or more). Everyone has their chains to move. When you find yourself shackled and you are faced with the choice of which direction to turn, think of the gym. Think of the barbell loaded down with weight. Think of that heavy, cold, black kettlebell starring unblinkingly back at you. Think of the jump rope that taunts you. Think of the yoke that dares you to lift it again, and again, and again. Think of the sled laden with untold pounds sinking into the turf as if it is in wet cement. Think of the never ending number of burpees you know you have to do.
What is it that gets you through time and time again? Action. There are days where the barbell doesn’t move off the ground. There are days when the burpees get the best of you. In the long run, over time, with your continued effort and absolute belief, the barbell moves and the burbees get done. You don’t need the all the answers. You just need the will to turn around, embrace the unchartered path before you, and start dragging your chains. Like a bar slowly parting with the floor, your destiny will take focus and you will arrive where you were meant to be.
I hope I have another year like 2019. I look forward to the challenges and the strength I will build in overcoming them. Here is to 2020 and to dragging your chains!