Forty, Freezing, Fear, and Failure

Dark and cold didn’t keep me from running 3.9 miles on my 39th birthday.

Today was my birthday. The big three nine, which signifies the last year of my thirties. This birthday happened to coincide perfectly with the coldest weather we’ve seen in Oregon since moving here a year and a half ago– complete with snow and ice. Actually, for this Southern California kid, the snowy week has been a whole lot of fun.

I am, however, logging much more time on my stationary bike this winter and much less time running outside. Determined to get a run in on my birthday, I triple layered, scoffed at the thermometer that read 15 degrees, and headed out the door with the goal of running 3.9 miles. My high school government teacher once made a comment that he liked to run his age on his birthday and I’ve decided to adopt that practice for myself. I sort of assume that he meant 3.9 and not 39 miles in my case.

Before closing the door my wife said something funny to me. She advised, “Don’t fall out there.” That made sense given the ice and snow. But I couldn’t help but chuckle, and think to myself, “Is that the advice from here on out?” Am I moving into be careful not to fall out there because you might break your hip territory already?

I pondered that during my entire run and what my fortieth year would look like. One thing is for certain, I don’t want the fear of falling to keep me from experiencing the journey to its fullest.

I’ve been listening to How I Built This on NPR where they interview entrepreneurs who’ve successfully built businesses from the ground up– folks like Mark Cuban whose business made him a billionaire. The entrepreneurs all talk about the importance of embracing failure and not letting fear keep them from pursuing their dreams.

While I don’t necessarily aspire to build a billion dollar business (though I’m not opposed to it either), I think we can apply this buzz around failure to a number of other areas in our lives. Here are a few that come to mind for me:

  • I will to dare to dialog with people who have different political, moral, cultural, and religious backgrounds and views than me– especially those in marginalized groups. Only by dialoguing can I truly begin to understand and love.
  • I want to be transparent and humble with my family, unafraid of them seeing where I struggle and what scares me most. I will love them fiercely and fight to keep our connection as a family strong.
  • I won’t let petty differences prevent me from collaborating with others both personally and professionally, and I’ll strive to turn negatives into positives. I will give as much as I can to help others be successful.

As I neared 3.9 miles on my run this morning I decided to round it up to an even four. Perhaps it’s because I wanted to make it a nice, even number. Or perhaps it’s because it was freakin’ cold out and I’d rather run that extra 0.1 than walk it. I like to think, however, that I ran four miles today because forty is going to be a great year.

Jeremy Watkin is the Director of Customer Experience at FCR, the premiere provider of outsourced call center and business process solutions. He has more than 17 years of experience as a customer service and experience professional. He is co-founder of the Customer Service Life blog and a regular contributor. Jeremy has been recognized many times for his thought leadership. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn for more awesome customer service and experience insights.

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