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Risking a New Grind


With no risk, there is no reward.

True that failure, humiliation, loss, despair and rejection can often become companions to those endeavors that many deem too risky to attempt. But for those of us who strive to better ourselves and our situations, the rewards can at times outweigh the anticipated failures.

This is true for so many aspects of a person’s life and path.

As I age, I am beginning to see that if you never take a chance on risking a change, then the result you will achieve is often unhappiness. I took a chance trying this thing called CrossFit. I’m no world-class athlete — or even an above-average athlete, if we’re really being honest. But over the better part of three years, my eyes have been opened to a myriad of experiences and moments that I would have never been afforded the opportunity to try if I’d just kept doing what I was doing before.

I was unhappy and out of shape and I knew that I could either 1.) Keep eating poorly and being a person who lacked any drive in terms of bettering my health or 2.) Take a risk and say “enough” and try something new. I did it.

It worked.

It’s not that easy, but on the other hand, it is.

If it were always that easy to change, I’d still be doing triathlons. If it were always that easy, I’d still be watching the VCR tapes of kickboxing videos in my basement. But those things just didn’t do it for me. This is a program that did work, that did adhere, that did justify the risk.

Because of my undertaking CrossFit, I took another chance and applied to be a writer. I have always written. I minored in creative writing in college. But until CrossFit, I was largely afraid to try. I have met CrossFit icons and Games athletes. I’ve interviewed and worked with some of the best in the CrossFit community. I’ve been to the Regional and worked with the media production crew on live television. All because I decided that taking a risk was worth the possibility of rejection.

Once you’ve done “Murph” or pressed more than 200 pounds overhead, emailing someone for a chance to write articles for the CrossFit Games website seems like a more manageable task. That opportunity led me here to you all hearing my story through The Box. For that, I am grateful.

As a teacher and coach, I often explain to teens that one day, despite the fact that it seems like it will never come, you will stop coming to this school. When that day comes, I tell them, “You need to wake up and have a plan for what you want to do next.” I don’t pretend to know what each of them will do or tell them what I think they should do with their lives, I just caution them that when the time comes they need to be ready for it.

This applies to all people. For many, that day has come to pass numerous times and they have again and again decided to cower away from a chance because of the risk involved.

Every biography I’ve read always starts off with the author’s struggles and walks us through the trials and tribulations of that person’s life. They never begin, “Well, in 1980, I was born a famous ______________ [insert writer, athlete, singer, actor, etc.], and I just took it from there.”


That’s not reality. If you want a change, you have to grind one out. It could be a muscle-up, a promotion at work, saving more money, making an impact in your community or becoming a writer.

If I’d never taken a risk, you wouldn’t be reading this excellent advice right now. Think about that.

What is something you’ve always thought of doing but never tried because you were afraid? What’s holding you back?

Stay on the Grind.

— Jamie Toland (JTol)