You can do anything you set your mind to.
Finally, at 43 years old in 2019, at the end of a decade in which we have experienced so much change and growth, personally, globally, culturally, etc., I truly believe this. Do you? I haven’t always believed it. In fact, for years I thought that other people could do hard things, things that they set their minds to, but not me. I just wasn’t cut out for that kind of overachiever mumbo jumbo. Wasn’t wired for it. I was much to realistic for that nonsense. I was one of the less capable. Trust me, I know my shortcomings. I am one of the challenged. One of the underdogs. A have not.
Then I married Ren Buckland.
Who, at one month shy of 52, is still the most capable, inspiring person I have ever met in my life, and I live with him! In some ways I feel like he is just getting started. He is one of those that believes that you can do anything you set your mind to. He believes it about himself, about me, and everyone he comes in contact with. He has taught our kids this. His parents believed it too. He believes that the only thing holding you back? Is you.
I remember talking to his dad once about their famous family motto “Bucklands don’t say can’t.” And I questioned him, “But what do we do when we are really struggling with something and we are feeling defeated, unsure of what to do next, and we desperately need help?”
And he replied to me, in his calm, clear, matter-of-fact tone of voice, “Then you may say ‘This presents a challenge to me.'”
He was an Army Ranger, a CPA and a lawyer (seriously, who does that?), an artist, a devoted husband of 48 years, a father and grandfather. As a child he grew up in Montana without indoor plumbing. He had faced many challenges in his life, including abject poverty, but he always found a way to overcome them.
So being married to that guy’s son has pushed me out of my comfort zone more than a few times in my life. There was never any chance of us living a quiet, simple life. Since being married to Ren, I finished my college degree, got my SCUBA certification, learned to ski, helped start a church, and owned and operated a business. These, among many others, are things I never even knew I wanted to do, which also includes attending a Tony Robbins conference with my overachieving husband in Dallas, Texas in June of 2016.
So, let’s talk about the time I walked on fire.
Now, you may have heard about that conference. It was the one that made the news in which dozens of people were burned.
Except literally thousands of people, myself included, were not. Guys, I was there. I saw what happened. And I wasn’t one of dozens I saw filming themselves while walking on 1000-degree hot coals with their smartphones.
You see, I have no video evidence of myself doing it, because I was trying not to get burned.
And I didn’t get burned. Not even a blister. Or a so-called “hot spot.”
I did exactly what Tony had instructed us to do. And I didn’t feel a darn thing. Like, nothing. At all.
Afterwards, I very nerdily questioned a few of the workers there and told them I didn’t think their coals were hot enough.
Some rando guy next to me heard me say this and exclaimed, “Who are you? Khaleesi?”
Maybe I am.
But instead of thinking I was just a boss at fire walking that happened to nail this particular exercise, I immediately thought I had done something wrong. And I tried to explain it away.
Maybe the coals weren’t hot enough. Maybe they had cooled down to a reasonable temperature by the time I walked on them. Maybe they should have put more coals on before I walked, and then I would have really felt something.
Maybe then it would have counted.
Even now, my overthinking brain finds articles like these and says, “See? Walking on hot coals is really not that big of a deal. Any kid growing up in Georgia walking briskly across short distances of hot asphalt during the summertime can do it! There really is a perfectly good, reasonable, scientific explanation for this.”
I have a bad habit of minimizing my accomplishments, because I don’t want to come across as braggadocios. The truth is, I am slightly terrified of success. If you aim low, then you won’t hit the ground as hard when you fall, right? And if you aim high and succeed, it’s just a matter of time before they all find out I’m a fraud! This is known as the imposter syndrome, and as it turns out, some of the most successful CEOs have wrestled with it too. Turns out, I also have a big fat case of it as well.
After my adventures in fire walking, I asked several other fire walkers around me: Did you feel anything? Yes, was their unanimous reply. Even my husband, who is a pretty tough guy and not prone to complaining, ended up with a small blister.
I didn’t realize what I was doing until I stood in a line, and struck up a conversation with the woman in front of me.
Me: “Did you do the firewalk?”
Her (eyes wide): “Yes! Did you?”
Me: “Yes. How was it for you? Did you feel anything?”
Her: “Um, yeah. Didn’t you?”
Me: “No. Was I supposed to?”
Her: “I’m not sure. But, I guess that means you did it right!”
Me: (Looking doubtful) “Hmm.”
Her: “Do you always do that?”
Me: “I’m sorry. Do what?”
Her: “Do you always minimize your accomplishments?” (Tony Robbins’ fans are not known for their subtlety or respect for others’ personal space or privacy. If you have been to one of his conferences you know exactly what I am talking about and can picture this awkward exchange in your head.)
Me: “NO! Wait a minute…Um, wait a minute. You know what? I think I DO!”
In other words, I am way too comfortable with making myself small. I explain away my accomplishments. I don’t want to take up too much space. Somewhere along the way, I believed the lie that I need to minimize myself to not make other people feel threatened. So I count myself out. I make room for others, but often at the expense of making room for myself. I frequently tell people that they can do anything they want to, but then in the same breath tell them that I don’t have any marketable skills. I get a lot of puzzled looks when I say this.
I minimize my accomplishments, because of the faulty belief that I should remain small, because that’s the Christlike thing to do. Meanwhile, I am reading stories about Jesus turning water into wine, walking on water, and healing lepers.
Jesus wasn’t small, and did nothing small. Granted, I am not Jesus, but read His words to and for us: “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!” (John 14:12-14, NLT)
Friends, why are we living so small?
I minimize the fact that I have run four half marathons, because I have not yet run a full.
I minimize the fact that I have given birth, four times, naturally and without any epidurals. No judgements from me if you chose otherwise. But this is what I wanted. Something I set my mind to do. And I did it.
I minimize the fact that I have been married for 20 years, because I almost walked out about 6 years ago.
I minimize the fact that my husband and I have fought hard as business owners. Scraped. Worked. Ate beans and rice. Made our first two daughters save up and buy their first American Girl dolls with their own cash. And worked some more. And then worked some more. And we have fought for a life that we have carved out together, that we both truly love.
I minimize the fact that we are in the process of raising four amazing kids who we adore, because we aren’t done yet, and I am terrified that one of them will end up in jail and thereby disqualify me as a mother!
I did it again recently in a text exchange with a friend, who also happens to be my running partner. She texted me to ask how I did in a local Zombie 5K I had run that morning. I replied by telling her I got second in my age group! But then quickly minimized it by saying, “But it was a small race.” Her response was perfect:
“A win is a win. Don’t belittle it. Plus now you know you would survive at least 1 season of The Walking Dead.”
Guys, get you a friend like this!
I started writing this blog post in 2016. It’s been sitting in my drafts folder for 3 years. I was extremely uncomfortable about hitting publish. Again, I didn’t want to come across as braggy. I am fighting the temptation to apologize for this post and not even hit publish in the first place.
I am so much more comfortable with writing and talking about my shortcomings. Ren’s mother always gave me a hard time about that and told me I needed to not be so hard on myself. I minimize my accomplishments because I don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable with my successes.
But herein lies the rub: If I am only talking about my shortcomings, and listening to you talk about your shortcomings and everyone else’s shortcomings, then we are all just wallowing around in our mutual shortcomings, not inspiring each other and aspiring for more!
And I really do believe that you can do whatever you set your mind to. It’s just a lot harder to believe it about ourselves. After all, no one knows our fears and failures quite like we do.
If I believe this about you, then why is it so hard to believe it for myself? If I can do any one of these things, you can too. Or whatever it is that you have in your heart to do. Maybe what we need to do in this next decade is step out more, put ourselves out there more, take more risks, and walk boldly and confidently, and finally do those things we have wanted to do and talk about doing for so long.
I am painfully aware of my limitations and shortcomings and struggles. We all are. However, neither our limitations, nor our shortcomings, nor our past failures disqualify us from future successes.
If anything, it gives us hindsight and perspective and the correction we need to move forward in this next decade. I want to encourage you younger folks, when you hit your 40s you are just getting good at a few things. Or maybe I’ve been good at them and am just now finding the confidence to say it out loud. You can face impossible odds. That voice in your head telling you otherwise is a big, fat liar. You can do amazing, hard, beautiful, crazy things. In fact, you can do anything you set your mind to do.