Last year I wrote about the Misogi Challenge concept, something I had picked up from Jesse Itzler. I called the post Taking Risks and Crushing Your Comfort Zone. As Itzler had shared in a podcast, “The notion around the misogi is you do something so hard one time a year that it has an impact the other 364 days of the year.” He continued, “Put one big thing on the calendar that scares you, that you never thought you could do, and go out and do it.” The concept is simple. Every year you should do one thing that is so memorable it sticks out the rest of the year… a year-defining event.
For many, the Misogi takes the shape of a physical challenge. NBA player and now coach Kyle Korver made the Misogi concept popular. He began his Misogi journey by paddleboarding 25 miles from the Channel Islands to Santa Barbara in California. Later, he completed another Misogi alongside sports physiologist Marcus Elliott and two other friends. The group completed a grueling underwater 5K while carrying an 85-pound rock together. As Korver shared, “Each participant would dive down, find the rock, run with it as long as he could, and drop it for the next guy to find. It took five hours.”
In an interview with Outside magazine where the 5K story was originally shared, Elliott described the Misogi concept:
“This is about testing your abilities in a foreign environment,” he says. “The more blind, the more bold and adventurous the effort.” There’s no entry fee. No spectators. “It’s not a ride at Disneyland or a Tough Mudder,” he says. “It’s a personal quest designed by you. And it’s really f—ing hard. You have a 50 percent chance of success, at best.” Regardless of the outcome—the thinking goes—you’ll realize your potential.
My 2021 Misogi
As I walked through 2021, I wrestled with what my own Misogi would be. Would I choose something that would test my limits physically or land on something that would push me in another area of my life? Finally, after a lot of thinking, I stepped away from the physical challenges I had originally been pondering and chose something completely different…
I would start a podcast.
To set the stage for this, I had been having great conversations with Chris Cathers, a client of mine who turned into a close friend. He was focused on his own personal growth, as was I, and we were challenging one another on a weekly basis. We pushed each other, held each other accountable, and had conversations that pushed both of us to our professional and personal edges. At one point, Chris made a comment in passing that would change everything. “These are great conversations – I wish everyone could hear what we’re talking about. It would make for a great podcast.”
That was all I needed to hear. I had been writing the Depth Not Width blog for a few years and had wanted to start a podcast but hadn’t yet. Fear had held me back. The shift from writing to speaking was uncomfortable, and I knew it would test my limits. We’d be putting ourselves out there… What would people say? Then, from a technical standpoint, what would a podcast require? Like most things today, we could research it, YouTube it, and figure it out – but the unknowns tied to the work it would require of us rattled me a bit. Could we do it and be successful? There was a 50/50 chance. It wouldn’t be easy to start and would be even harder to keep going long-term – a test of our endurance.
Sounds like the perfect Misogi Challenge, right? Like launching a successful marketing agency, dating after my divorce, and running my first marathon, starting a podcast created some significant and real unease… which is EXACTLY why I did it. I wanted to include something in my year that would raise my level of discomfort. I was ready to step into something hard. This podcast would be my 2021 Misogi, and if Chris and I were successful, it would mark both of our years.
Six months later, the Grit Meets Growth podcast has released sixteen episodes, and we just recorded number seventeen this morning. Chris and I both stepped boldly into the uncomfortable. We’ve learned so many things about ourselves and our limits along the way. We’ve broken barriers and tested our endurance. Launching Grit Meets Growth has forced us to explore our edges, push back against our limiting beliefs, and redefine who we are and what we’re capable of. It has been the perfect Misogi.
Stepping into 2022, I am beginning to process what this new year’s Misogi will be for me. I think it will be a physical challenge. I want to recapture some of the feelings that came with running that marathon a few years back. I want to reconnect with that side of myself, the part that wants to find out what this 46-year-old man is capable of.
I’m also looking at the relationships I have in my family, trying to figure out how the Misogi fits in there. We’re a blended family, my twins are almost sixteen, and our time together as we know it is dwindling. Is there a way for us to approach Misogi as a family this year? Do we do something physical together, or is there something else we can do emotionally or spiritually that will stretch us and strengthen our bonds? From the work I’ve done alongside Chris on the podcast, I can tell you that doing something big and challenging together has brought us closer as brothers. I want to bring more of that into my home – to go deeper with each individual and as a family.
With that in mind, here’s my challenge for you… What will your 2022 Misogi be?
How will you test yourself in the year to come?
What will you do in 2022 that will become a memory you carry with you for the rest of your life?
Average, status quo living is nipping at your heels. It wants you to get comfortable, settle in, and stay safe. That might be tempting today, but when you get to the end of 2022 without something you’ve done that is big, bold, and memorable, how will that feel? Let that question sink in. Then, pick an area in your life and test your limits. Stretch past what you think you’re capable of. There’s more in the tank than you know, but you’ll never find it unless you dig deep.
Ready for more?
Follow me here for more insights like this one! If you liked this, you’ll also get massive value out of the Grit Meets Growth podcast that I share with Chris Cathers. Find it here or on your favorite podcast platform. Let’s make this a year worth remembering! – John