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Weird title I know, but it does apply to my thoughts tonight. On Monday my boys had a great opportunity to go to what we thought, was a ninja competition. It was so much better. There wasn’t any competing, but what there was was awesome. My boys had the opportunity to meet 2 of their favorite America Ninja Warriors, the Eskimo Ninja – Nick Hanson, and Kingdom Ninja – Daniel Gil, as well as one we didn’t know as well at the time, but was pretty cool as well – Adam Rayl, and I can’t remember his tag line, but it’s something like Rock Solid. The gym was set up with about 20 different obstacles like the warp wall, the hanging doors, rope swings, rings, salmon ladder, etc. These kids were set loose on the obstacles and the Ninja’s walked around, helping, giving pointers, encouraging, cheering on and just generally making these kids feel like they were something special. I told Daniel Gil it was fun to watch him run, but it was so much more awesome to see him sharing what he does in such a personal way with all these kids. They were awesome.

But, that’s not what I watched that got me thinking about landings. In particular, sticking a landing, even if it’s not perfect. I was sitting closest to a set of 3 ropes that made up an obstacle. Each rope started on something, and ended on something, and you couldn’t touch the ground. The first one started on a pommel horse and ended on a mat turned on end that was about 5 feet long, 5 feet high, and about 2 feet wide. The second and third mats were about 2 feet high, 6 feet long, and 2 feet wide. Landing on any one of the mats didn’t have to be perfect, you could gracefully land on your feet or slide in on your knees or behind. But if you overshot or undershot you had to go back to the beginning and start over. It was obvious the people who had maybe swung on ropes before, or who had jumped from one object to the next, landing on a particular spot. But the ones that intrigued me were the ones who missed.

I started to notice a common theme with those who ended up off the mark. They wouldn’t let go of the rope. Not that the ones who stuck it totally let go initially, but the ones who missed just flat would not let go. As I watched I started to relate that to life. I came up with half a dozen different ways that that idea of letting go could apply to life, and you probably have some ideas how it applies in your own life. But I will relate one of those ideas here.

The goal of this obstacle was to go from point A to point B to C and then to D. None of the ropes would reach to any other points except the designated points in the area they were in, so you couldn’t skip around. This reminded me of life, of setting goals. So often we set goals that we know are good for us, that we know will bring us happiness. But for whatever reason, there are things in our life that we hang on to. Things that we should just let go, because they aren’t compatible with who we want to become. But we hang on because it’s comfortable. Because it’s familiar. What was also interesting to watch was how once they made it to the first obstacle, they let go, and they stuck the landing, whether on their feet, or their knees or behind or back, they had much more confidence that they could stick the next one. Once we let go of the things that are holding us back, we have much more confidence in our ability to succeed, it’s easier to recognize those things in our lives that are holding us back and to not allow them to drag us across the mat and off the other side.

The other impressive thing to watch was how determined people were. I am grateful for determined people. Not one person quit. Even when they had to start over, over and over again. They kept at it until they got it. We can do the same. When we don’t make it the first time, that doesn’t mean we failed. That just means we have gained some data. As people swung on those ropes they learned, swing a little harder off this one, lift the knees on this one, slow down as I get to the last one. There is so much data to any goal, especially those that we don’t succeed at in the beginning. We learn, we get back up, we grab hold of that rope, and then, when the moment it right, we let go and trust ourselves and our abilities.

This was such a good experience for me to watch, and my boys had such a great time accomplishing their goal of finishing all the obstacles that evening. They got to visit with some really down to earth, nice guys, who just happen to be people who my boys look up to, and they didn’t disappoint. I hope you read about this obstacle, see it in your mind, and look for ways that it might apply in your life. Let me know what you think!

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