I’m sure you have heard it before, or maybe some version of it at some point along your journey: “if it doesn’t challenge you it doesn’t change you.” It is likely I had heard this quote in passing too, before it resonated so deeply with me, just about a year ago.
The words have been with me since then. They’ve helped me over mountains on my bike, given me courage in my career, and helped me grow as a person. I feel the message is important for all of us to keep in mind on our own individual journey.
I heard the quote from the mouth of Angela Manuel Davis, a fitness evangelist/motivator and spin instructor for Soul Cycle in L.A. Angela was also a member of the USA Track and Field Team and was a professional track athlete. As I sat down to write this, I did a little more research into other folks that have spoken the same or similar words. Fred Devito is one that has also laid claim to this quote. In addition, I learned of the book, “The Obstacle is the Way” which is an inspirational book on how to turn trials into triumphs based on writings from an emperor of the Roman Empire in the year 170.
It seems this ‘challenge for change’ principal has been benefiting people for hundreds of years and has proven that in order to better ourselves and become better at whatever we set out to do, we must stand up to the challenges that stand in our way.
Whether it be with fitness, with my career or in relationships, there have been many moments over the last year that I have benefited greatly from the reminder that this quote provides. I know I want to continue to grow in these aspects of my life, but progress and change can be difficult and more complicated than I would like sometimes. In the past, I would surrender to the obstacles and difficulties and think “never mind! I’m fine right where I am at.” But reminding myself that a challenge or a hurtle on this path to betterment is only going to get me where I want to go. If I try to avoid the challenge and take a challenge free path, I might not get to where I want to go. I’ve definitely shifted my thinking to appreciate that challenges can make me grow into the best version of myself. And it appears that there are always going to be challenges or hurdles, some bigger than others, but that I need to face them and work through them in order to get where I’m meant to go and receive the best possible outcome.
The riders in my spin class on Tuesday evenings have also become familiar with “if it doesn’t challenge you it doesn’t change you.” I have started speaking it to them for encouragement and motivation. Often times we go to work out classes or the gym to get stronger, to get fitter, to get better in some way, right? But there are challenges that we will face. Sometimes it might be the challenge of making it through a group exercise class in which you are completely out of your comfort zone but you know the importance of it or it might be your only time to work out. If you ride out the challenge, fight through it for a class or two, three classes later and you might start to see this as an essential part of your daily routine. And six months later you haven’t missed a workout since you began. See, “if it doesn’t challenge you it doesn’t change you.”
I think no matter your situation, big or small, if you are setting out for change, betterment, or progress of some sort; embrace the challenges that stand in your way. They are there to help you get to the top of that mountain.