It’s funny how life seems to come full circle, isn’t it?
Back in 2007, I qualified for the Six Foot Track Marathon. It’s a 45km trail race that winds across the beautiful and rugged Blue Mountains outside Sydney and has been described as the “toughest marathon in Australia”.
A lot of people were surprised I managed to qualify for the race.
Just quietly, I was too!
So throughout my training for the race, I really struggled with my fear and self-doubt, especially around judgement.
I was afraid if I “failed”, it would prove my critics were right and that I didn’t deserve to be on the start line.
Then my mentor sent me an email, reminding me of Theodore Roosevelt’s famous quote (this was long before Brené Brown made it famous again in popular culture):
It is not the critic who counts….
(In fact, I could probably still dig up the email because I clung to the concept and quote as I struggled not to let my fear sabotage my mental state leading into the race.)
10 years later, I had the idea to create a membership community to help other women through their struggle with fear and self-doubt too.
I was still stuck on a name for it when I caught up with my friend and mentor Tanya Geisler (who you might remember from episode #6 of the podcast) during my recent trip to Canada.
As we were walking, talking and brainstorming along the boardwalk at the beach, Tanya suggested using the word “Arena” as a reference to the Spartans of ancient times.
Tanya also commented on how the mission of the soon-to-be-named Sparta Chicks Arena aligns perfectly with the concept in Teddy’s famous quote.
And despite the hot sun, I got chills and goosebumps as I remembered how important that quote and concept had been to me back in 2007:
"The credit belongs to the (wo)man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again,
because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause;
Who, at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly…"
It reminds me, even to this day, of two things.
Firstly, it’s not the critics in your life whose opinion matters (whether those voices belong to friends and family, anonymous cowards on the internet or only in your imagination).
Secondly, the importance of surrounding yourself with people who believe in you (sometimes more than you believe in yourself) and who can see you in what you can’t always see in yourself.
It’s about surrounding yourself with people whose faces are also marred by sweat and dust — and sometimes tears — and who are chasing their dreams in spite of their fears, just like you.
They are the people who count.
They are the people you can count on.
And they are who you'll find inside the Sparta Chicks Arena.
Looking back to 2007, I realised the importance of surrounding myself with people who could see my potential (more than I could see it in myself) and that I had to change how I saw myself (as someone who wasn’t really a runner) in order to get the best out of my body on race day.
Crossing the finish line in one of the hardest and most iconic trail races in the country at the time, with 10 minutes to spare before the 7 hour cut-off, remains my proudest achievement.
I have really strong memories of that time in my life.
I still clearly remember how much I struggled. Perhaps that’s why I am now so passionate about helping women change the way they see themselves and bring out their best.
If you have enjoyed Sparta Chicks Radio or any of the content I’ve published via Sparta Chicks over the years, I think you’ll love the Sparta Chicks Arena too.
I’d love to see you inside,