It was a hot August day. The sun was shining bright. I made my way across the busy parking lot to my car in a daze.
As I sat in the sweltering heat, I couldn’t focus on anything else but the medical report in my hands. The doctor had taken over an hour to explain in detail what was happening in my body but all I truly remembered hearing was, “stage 4 adrenal failure.” I thought, What does that even mean?
I took the news with a grain of salt and asked how I could manage my workouts and my current work schedule. The doctor looked sternly at me and said, “Kris, I don’t think you understand. You’re body is shutting down. If you don’t stop right now, you’ll likely have MS by next year.”
Those words played again and again in my head. The fighter in me wanted to throw the paper on the passenger seat and speed off to my next appointment. But the truth was, I was tired. I wasn’t just tired, I was exhausted.
I had been exhausted for 20 years but at that moment, I did something I had never done before. Instead of pushing past it, I found myself breathing a sigh of relief.
Was I happy to hear this diagnosis? Of course not. But I was relieved that there was actually something wrong with me. Because in my mind, that meant it was treatable.
What I wasn’t prepared for was how that treatment would change my entire outlook on how I viewed risk.
—— How do you view risk?——
Many people view risk-taking as a strength, and think of value as being tied to it—the bigger the risk, the bigger the payoff. I know I did. And I’m guessing you do too.
Growing up I was taught to be strong; not in a nurturing and encouraging way, but more in a always-be-ready-to-defend yourself kind of way. I prided myself on my ability to push and persevere. I took crazy risks in relationships, in business and with my body. I learned to never give up; to always keep pushing.
But now with my medical report in hand and my health hinging on my next move, I had to think differently. In fact I had to rethink everything.
What if I had been wrong? What if the risk I needed to take wasn’t in pushing using my strength, but in respecting my limitations? What if my limitations were actually designed to warn me that all that pushing was hurting me instead of helping me?
Maybe that’s why I had three herniated disks, two divorces, a titanium plate in my spine, and now a severe medical diagnosis.
Sitting there in that sweltering car, I kept questioning. What if my limitations were designed to keep me focused?
If that were true, maybe I wouldn’t have spent 20 years in a career that wasn’t my passion.
What if my limitations were designed to keep me humble?
If that were true, maybe I wouldn’t have spent so long pretending to be something I wasn’t.
What if respecting my limitations were actually the secret to my success?
I’d always considered myself an excellent risk taker, but as I looked back, I wondered if that were really true.
Wise risk takers don’t move forward in arrogant ignorance.
Wise risk takers know their strengths AND they know their limitations.
Think about your own life. Maybe you’re not eating well. Maybe you’re not sleeping enough. Maybe you’re burning the candle at both ends.
Maybe you’re pushing hard but not moving forward. Maybe you think that you’re just doing what it takes—risking stability and health to gain growth and success. But maybe you’re wrong, just as I realized I was.
Because I learned through all of this, that the best kind of risks are not irresponsible, fear-driven risks. They are calculated risks taken because you want your life to be different, and you want to grow.
And how you do that is by respecting your limits.
I’m thankful for the limitations placed on me. They helped me focus on what really matters and what I am truly gifted for. Now when I take a risk, it’s carefully calculated, because I’m fully aware of everything that’s at stake.
There’s a lot at stake for you too. Don’t wait for a major health issue or an emotional meltdown to put the limits up for you. Respect your limitations. They will serve you well and help you succeed in whatever risks you take.
That hot August afternoon was an awakening for me. An awakening to my limitations that had been a long time coming.
It certainly wasn’t the end of the world, but that medical report was the end of my world. It was also the portal to a new life. A life of embracing my limitations, and using them to help me take the risks that truly matter.
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