by Darrin Schenck

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by Darrin Schenck

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…who you were.

That’s right, you cannot expect to be the same person during and after an undertaking of any kind that you were before.  You will change if you are pursuing anything, doesn’t matter if it is good or bad.  If you decide to start smoking and think “I only smoke when I drink”, before long you are likely to becoming a smoker in general.  Seems innocuous, but small habits expand into real patterns of behavior.  You probably started smoking initially to take the edge of the social anxiety you feel being out in a bar with a bunch of strangers.  Soon that becomes the default solution for any anxiety you feel, and boom…you have yourself a smoking habit.

Of course it works in the other direction as well.  If you are pursuing something like bolstering your education or starting a new job, you are going to experience a couple of things:

–you are likely to meet a new set of friends

–you are likely to lose touch with some of the current people you hang out with

–you’ll be unlikely to keep in touch with any of your former co-workers

–you will learn new habits and behavior patterns

–you will begin to see yourself in a different light

All of the above are common and should be expected things in the process of change.  If you are looking to “elevate yourself” to a new level of performance, you have to leave some of the old version of you behind.  In sports, you are going to start at or near the bottom, just like everyone else does.  But at some point, if you decide to start really focusing and working at it, you are going to elevate yourself away from the people you started with.  You may stay friends with a few of the people who were your fellow beginners, but you’ll also have a new group of people that you spend time with.  They will occupy more of your time and slowly replace the former group that you hung out with.  This is where the title of this comes into play:

The Cost of Who you Are is who You Were

You cannot be the same person and move forward.  By committing to a new set of behaviors, whether it be a bad habit like smoking or a good habit like going to the gym every morning, you will change.  And the “cost” of that change will be the former version of yourself.  If you become a smoker, you’ll bump into someone else who is sneaking outside for a smoke and start to bond over your filthy habit.  If you show up at the gym at six in the morning consistently, you’ll see the same people and probably end up chatting with one or more of them.  You don’t have to go have breakfast with them after your workout to see a shift in who you associate with.  The fact that you have shifted your behavior to be at the gym early every day means that the old version of you that didn’t do those things is fading away.  The “cost” of the new you is the death of the habits that made the “old you” who you were.

Now, if you have really high aspirations in something, you are going to go through this cycle multiple times.  The higher you elevate yourself, the smaller your circle of friends becomes.  There are very few people who have the internal strength and commitment to stick to something for a long time and continue to improve at it.  Whether you are starting a business or trying to win a national championship, you are living in less and less common space.  Your obsession will bother some people, they will not understand, and the two of you will likely go your separate ways.  You need to be surround by those rare people who are as committed and crazy as you are.  That circle of friends will reduce over time, new candidates will be tried out, but some of them won’t last in your new circle either.  Chasing a dream to the highest level is a lonely endeavor, but I can promise you the rewards are worth it.  Even if you miss the goal, the journey is worth it.

If you know this going in, you can prepare accordingly.  There will always be people who are willing to support your journey and be along for the ride.  Family and close friends might think you are a little off the rails at times, but if they love you, they will respect your decisions and support your efforts.  In my mind, this is a good way to really filter out those friends that you can always count on and those who will falter in your time of need.  It is a sad truth, but not everyone wants you to succeed.  Some people will grow uncomfortable as you continue to grow and elevate away from them.  They will become jealous and also hurt that you remind them that they are able to commit to something that they are not willing or able to do.  This is tough to swallow for most people, and it is one of the major reasons that the cost of who you are becoming is who you were.  By committing to improve and change yourself you are also committing to move on from some of the people who are currently in your life.

I do not have any friends from high school at this point of life.  In my fifties, I have changed multiple times throughout my life and very few people have stayed in my circle because of it.  Who I was in high school was barely recognizable to me at age 30 and such a distant memory at 50 that I can barely remember who I was and how I thought back then.  I was an insecure, socially awkward skinny guy trying desperately to find his place in the circle back then.  I was on the fringes of several different social circles, only a few people I would call friends.  I didn’t want to be in high school, mainly because I was uncomfortable in my own skin.  Once I started playing racquetball and hanging out with a bunch of people older than me, I finally felt like I had a place I belonged.  College wasn’t much different to me than high school, and my interest in that life waned quickly.  I only had one thing I knew I wanted to do at that point of my life, and that was pursue becoming the best racquetball player that I could.

By committing to this chase, I isolated myself into social circles that revolved around the sport.  I only hung out at the racquet club, and spent time with people who are also competing in the same sport.  I slowly worked my way into the groups of advanced players, learning from them.  I watched their habits and patterns, adopting for myself the things they did to allow themselves move forward in the process.  I worked and worked, and I noticed the others who were doing the same.  We became friends because we were on the same path.  We helped one another improve and stay on task.  Those people I am still friends with today; we shared time and struggles and triumphs together, and that bond is stronger than most.  All of us were committed to giving up who we were to become who we are.

Please understand, if you have desire for more, you have to sacrifice.  You will sacrifice time, and friends and fun and indulgences.  You will change who you are, leaving the old version of you behind like a caterpillar does when it becomes a butterfly.  It is a necessary metamorphosis, but I swear it is worth it.   I encourage you to find your true potential and live in that rarified air that so few people do.  And the friends you make towards the top will understand you on a deeper level than anyone else ever could.

Chase the dream…

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