A headband. A simple piece of cloth. Orange in color. The words “Tough Mudder” embroidered on it. It might not seem like a lot to you. To me, it’s everything. My prized possession. A key to a world forever changed. At the time of this writing, it’s been one week since I completed my seventh Tough Mudder and in one week I will be running my eighth. Each time I earn a new headband, I wear it the rest of the day and then the next, until #HeadbandMonday (the Monday following a Mudder) is over.
Last week, I went to a friend’s birthday party held at a fairly crowded bar, wearing my Tough Mudder headband (it was pink signifying my seventh mudder). I was wearing my finisher’s shirt proudly. I had numerous conversation with people about the race. It included some light conversation about Spartan Race or Warrior Dash, neither of which I am actively running. There were people who had no idea what a mudder was, nor why this weird guy was wearing a pink headband to a crowded bar on Saturday night. I could feel their eyes on me, questioning, maybe confused, maybe judging. Why? Why is this guy out and looking ridiculous?
Inspiration. Change. Opportunity. Hope. These are things I want people to get out of seeing my headband. Either by talking to me about it and then joining the DB&D team. Or seeing it, googling it, then doing it on their own. Or one of the many steps in between. Here is why this is so important to me.
Four years ago, I met a guy who would become a very good friend. His name was Brian. We partied together, played kickball, started a fantasy football league together. Brian was dangerously overweight. He didn’t engaged in much physical activity, nor did he enjoy a healthy diet. In October of 2014, Brian was in the hospital. Two months later, he was dead.
From the time I met Brian, I wanted to talk to him about working out, exercise, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. I would talk to my significant other at the time or mutual friends about how I wanted to work out with Brian, to go walking or hiking, or even walking to a healthy brunch spot. Something held me back. Three years came and went, and Brian’s health got worse. I never broached the subject. Something held me back. Fear of rejection, fear of hurting his feelings, something, something terrified me so much that I could never even ask him to go for a walk with me.
It wasn’t until he went into the hospital in October that I mentioned it to him. It was so simple. “Hey man, when you are ready, let’s go walking, let’s work out.” He said, “Yeah, we’ll see.” To this day, I don’t know if Brian knew he was going to die or what. He may have been interested, he may have been giving me the brush off. What I do know is that I didn’t create the opportunity to be brushed off until it was too late. I walked back into the hospital six weeks later expecting to joke around about when he was getting out again. When I walked into his room, he was unconscious, in a coma, connected to more machines than I could count. The next morning, he died.
I beat myself up for a long time because of that. Could I have said something sooner? Could I have been more pushy? Less pushy? Cared more? The bottom line, while I can’t control what Brian did or didn’t do, I could create opportunities, for people to take, or for people to brush off.
That’s the headband. That’s my 5am gym posts. That’s pictures from races in my office or online. That’s DB&D. It’s opportunities for people to reach out and contact me, ask about the headband, or the photos, or brush them off. Comment on blog posts, or ignore them. Love them, like them, or leave them.
It’s not about people doing Tough Mudders (although they are awesome and everyone should do one). It’s not about people doing things my way. Or your way. Or the right way. It’s about creating opportunities for people to find their way. Whatever that way is. I have a saying that it’s about, “finding the right shoe.” What that means is that there is a way to get people to take advantage of the opportunities you create for them. You just need to find the shoe that fits. Get it?
Is there someone in your life for whom you want to create an opportunity? What’s stopping you? Is it fear? Is there someone that can help? Can DB&D?
Don’t wait. Wear the headband proud, create the opportunities for others.
Thanks for reading. –Kenny
RIP Brian. We all miss you, brother.