For me, my Achilles’ heel in life has always been finding my purpose, or even finding something I felt passionately about. I was never one of those kids who knew exactly what they wanted to do or become when they got older. I just coasted through life looking at different routes I could possibly take, but never felt drawn to one particular thing.
In 2009, I would make my first real definitive life decision, proposing to the girl I was dating. However in 2010, life hit hard and I had to come to grips with certain realities I was facing. Someone I had planned to marry had jumped ship, I was struggling in school, I had never felt more alone and lost in my life. However, it was here I would begin my long journey to find myself, find my passion, and purpose in life.
When I was a kid, I had terrible vision. It wasn’t until my parents asked me to try and read a billboard off in the distance while we were eating out one night that we realized how bad it was. We went to the optometrist and for the first time I saw the way the world was supposed to look. Now I can’t say how long I needed glasses, but I know I needed it years
before I finally got them. I just thought that’s the way the world was supposed to be, kind of blurry and unclear. Fast forwarding to 2010 when everything seemed to fall apart, I had to come to the reality that something wasn’t right. I would later find out that I had been dealing with depression and anxiety most of my life. I didn’t realize it because I thought that’s the way life was supposed to be, the never-ending struggle to find happiness.
It was then, during one of the darkest times of my life, that my oldest brother Nathan reached out to me. He suggested I start training for a 5k and that running would be good for me. I played football and tennis in high school but had never thought about being active with anything after that. So, I let him convince me to start training for the race. I was so out of shape. Just running to the end of the street would put me out of breath. So, I had to work my way from the bottom up. But, I had a goal now, something to focus on, something to work towards. I ran my first 5k and survived it. I was by no means fast, in fact on the final stretch a man who was probably in his 70’s passed me up. Regardless I felt accomplished, and Nathan then convinced me to sign up for a half marathon the next month. That’s quite a jump in such a short time, but I somehow let him convince me to sign up for it. I hobbled across that finish line with the biggest grin on my face
as my brother gave me a “good game” slap on the butt. I could feel my self-confidence growing just a little and finding some happiness finally. I would go on to run many more half marathons and move my way up to full marathons. But, as anyone who struggles with depression knows, sometimes the things we love doing no longer bring us joy or fulfillment.
It was here, in 2013, 3 years into running and racing that I would hit a road block and I found myself less excited about running road races. A friend of mine had recommended I sign up for a Spartan Race. I watched their YouTube advertisement video at the time and thought there was no way I could do that. I simply was not fit enough to handle that type of race, as
badly as I wanted to. I would sit on those thoughts for some time until one day I mustered up the courage to commit to it. If I was going to go have the Spartan experience I was going to get all of it, so I signed up for the hurricane heat the night before the race as well. That entire weekend changed everything for me. There was a fire that was lit inside of me that I had never experienced before. I knew this was MY sport. I felt so passionately about OCR that it changed the way I looked at health and fitness. It would go from being a hobby to a total lifestyle change.
As my confidence grew, I began to try and figure out what I wanted to do with my life, career wise. I had graduated college the year prior with no real direction, but would later decide that I wanted to become a physician assistant. I put my efforts into pursuing that while I maintained my passion for OCR as I completed a double Spartan trifecta in 2014. I had a good
feeling about this career choice, but unfortunately was unsuccessful getting into school anywhere. It was demoralizing as I invested two consecutive years to the application process to come up empty handed. I then had a choice, spiral downward and let the depression consume me, or put everything I had into my passion of OCR.
In 2015, I would go on to complete 7 trifectas. I traveled to 11 different states, 14 different venues, and saw parts of the United States I had never seen before. It was a year I will never forget. Anyone that does that many races is bound to get burnt out, and that’s where finding a good support group is crucial. By chance, I had stumbled onto two local running groups I had no idea were in my area, Battle 6:11 and BTR Mudders. I had thought I was the only one crazy enough to do what I was doing in my area, but I found out there were crazy people just like me! It was here that I was able to bounce back from the crazy 7 trifecta year, and not let my love for racing and OCR dwindle away. I became involved with the community and developed great friendships. If there’s one thing you learn in OCR it’s that you never have to face a challenge alone. There are always people who are willing and happy to help. I can be a bit stubborn in shouldering my burdens, but to find people that are there to support you and lift you up helps you see what friends and family are truly all about. I had also found myself wanting to give back. I did this by coaching workouts alongside others in the group, helping members of the group achieve their goals, and helping them overcome their obstacles both on and off the race course.
It was in December of 2017 that I would finally find what I had been looking for all these years. I had sustained significant injuries during the year. My shoulder was all out of whack, and the strength I once had was substantially diminished. I had also injured my knee the month before at the Dallas Beast coming off the monkey bars, landing awkwardly and reaggravating an old football injury resulting in a DNF. I hobbled into a double race weekend in Florida that I was unsure whether or not I should race. This was a first for me. I had always been able to suffer through injuries in the past, but this had me concerned whether or not I should race at all. I was visiting my brother, Josh, who lives in Orlando prior to the race weekend. He had suggested I see one of his friends who is a chiropractor. He had brought it up before in the past, but I disregarded it because I’m naturally a skeptic of everything. At this point I was willing to try anything. OCR was my passion, and there’s not much worse for an athlete than sustaining injuries that can take away your ability to do what you love.
I met with Dr. Brenan who showed me what he does on a daily basis. He gave me the full work up. I had told him my issues and he said, “ok, this is what we’re going to do.” He muscle tested my shoulder to figure out the strength. It wasn’t good. I couldn’t hold resistance in that shoulder. He then adjusted it. It was the craziest thing I had experienced. I thought chiropractors just cracked backs. I heard and felt a substantial pop as he adjusted me. He then gave me a minute and retested my shoulder. My strength was back, and I could fully resist in the muscle test. He also adjusted my neck and lower back, and alleviated pain I had been dealing with for some time. For my knee, I got laser therapy that helps with pain and inflammation, and promotes faster healing. Within the next couple of days my knee felt as good as new. As the old saying goes, I’ll believe it when I see it, and I saw it first hand!
It was after all of this that I would have that “light bulb moment” I had been waiting on for 31 years. I knew this was what I was meant to do, and what I would have a passion for. The ability to do what I loved had just been given back to me, and I wanted to be able to do the same for others. Everything had led up to that defining moment and decision. I had to find my passion for OCR, and once I found that passion, I had to focus all of my energy on it. As I did that, I was able to grow as a person, and help and affect others’ lives. By pursuing my passion, I was then able to find my purpose, and once you find your purpose you have to give it all that you have. And by doing that you find happiness and fulfillment in life, and are
able to make a true difference in the lives of others. The road wasn’t easy. It was long and extremely difficult with so much opposition. There are 3 lessons I would like you to take away from this story. I listen to Les Brown quite often. In my opinion he is one of the greatest motivational speakers of all time. Some of the things he often says are “easy come, easy go”, and “If you do what is easy, life will be hard. If you do what is hard, life will be easy.” That is why we must work hard and be consistent for the things that last the longest. We have to develop ourselves, develop our skills, and discover our talents. What we put our focus on will determine what will grow within us, whether it be positive or negative. If you dwell on the negative you will develop into a more negative person, if you focus on being positive you will develop into a more positive person.
Another thing that Les says, and the second lesson I want you to learn, is practice the principle of “OQP”, “Only Quality People.” The people you surround yourself will make or break you. They will lift you up or drag you down. When you make the big decisions in life you will see who is there to support you and who turns away. The people that turn away are “fair weather people”, they jump ship with any discomfort or inconvenience to themselves. These are the kind of people that you want to root out of your life because they will only prevent you from reaching your full potential. It is also important to surround yourself with like minded individuals. Ones who are goal oriented and will make you want to become better. Complacency is the enemy of progress.
Lastly, the final point is having courage. What is courage? What does it mean to be courageous? Did you know that courage cannot exist without fear? Being courageous is not being fearless, but rather being able to do something in the face of fear. Fear can paralyze people, it can hold them back from doing what they were meant to do or become. Fear comes from that inner voice, that inner dialogue we have within ourselves. Although I knew being a chiropractor was what I was meant to do I still had fear, and a lot of it. It meant I had to move to another state. It meant I was leaving family and close friends behind. It meant I would go into substantial debt. It meant that I would be tested to the max mentally and physically. As I’ve told this story to others, I give the analogy of what it felt like. It was like standing on top of an obstacle in the Battle OCR community known as “Triumph” or more commonly known in the rest of the OCR community as “Dragon’s Back”. This is where you’re standing on a platform and you have to leap over a gap to a pole on the next platform. From the ground it doesn’t seem like much, but when it’s you, and you’re up there at the top the fear is real to make that leap. You start thinking about all the worst case scenarios. What if I fall? What if I hurt myself? What if I fall and people laugh at me? What if? What I have found to be the conqueror of fear is commitment. Make your mind up to commit to the leap when your number is called, when you stare fear in the face. Commit to yourself before hand that if presented with an opportunity that you won’t bail out, that you’ll make that leap. It is also important that once you do that, you give it all you have.
It is important to put yourself in a situation where there is no turning back. It becomes do or die, sink or swim. Once we do that, we will find out that the fear is not as scary as we once thought, and that we will develop ourselves in such a way that we will survive and thrive. Some may ask what if I jump and fall? To that I would say get up, learn from it, and keep trying. Sometimes the only way to succeed is to fail our way to success. In the end failures are only investments towards our success. If you fail an obstacle at a race, do you just skip it the next time you’re faced with it? No. You figure out where you need to improve, train accordingly, and try again until you conquer it. One of the many reasons I love OCR is because there are so many parallels between racing and life. How to overcome obstacles, how to face adversity, and how to build community. Through these things I’ve found the formula for success and happiness that works for me. Finding my passion, letting that lead me to my purpose, focusing all my efforts on my purpose, and helping as many people along the way as possible. Whether in victory or defeat, every obstacle we face can be a lesson learned, and can lead us one step closer to where we are meant to go.
by Daniel Britt