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My son and I went camping recently. Well, we went RV’ing with my parents, which is technically called camping but is … notsomuch. But I digress.

The thing about RV campgrounds is that they have tons of activities, and this weekend’s list included a pie-eating contest. Fun, right? 

Fun to watch, maybe.

For a litany of reasons — he’s a picky eater, he has texture issues, he doesn’t like being in crowds and in the middle of noise, etc — I didn’t ask Daniel if he wanted to do it. I simply announced that we’d go watch.

And then he shocked me.

“I want to do that,” he said.

Summoning my best poker face, I replied with a casual, “Ok, cool.” And found him a seat at one of the picnic tables crowded with kids and surrounded by a mob of adults.

This child has never eaten a cherry pie. And he hates going off script. But there he sat, hands on his lap, face-down in a mini cherry pie, giving it everything he had, eating this new food in a “wrong” way with throngs of people packed in around him.

Daniel made it about halfway through before he couldn’t take another bite and some pudgy kid had licked his own pie plate clean (then asked for seconds) to win the contest. His face broadcast a level of mortification. He wanted away from that pie, away from the table, away from the crowd. I quickly asked if he wanted to head back to the pool and he power-walked ahead of me without saying a word.

You learn early when to talk to your kids about an experience and when to wait it out. My mother and I briefly let Daniel know how proud of him we were and then left him alone to do whatever decompressing he needed to do.

Stretch Yo’ Self

The thing was, Daniel did some massive stretching that day. I tried to explain this to him at bedtime, but when you’re nine, all you know is that this experience was really uncomfortable and you’re never doing it again. I hope that underneath, nestled in his subconscious, an idea took root: he tried something new and he came out the other side just fine.

Now it’s my turn. First, a photo I’ve shared a couple of places:

That’s me under the umbrella. This photo was taken in jest and I titled it “Redhead on the beach” before realizing it provided a great visual for how I’ve approached a lot of stuff in my life.

What you don’t see are the row of beach chairs next to me, their occupants’ faces blissfully turned toward the sun. This has been me: hiding, shrinking, keeping safe in the shade or in the shadows. Sitting so close to rows of beach chairs whose occupants have turned their faces upward and wondering what it feels like to do so and be unafraid of getting burned.

I’ve had a tendency to pull back rather than go for it in various aspects of my life. To play it small. It’s weird, as I’m also a super competitive person. Super competitive with an upper limit problem, apparently.

So here I am, running headlong into a “Stretch Yourself Challenge” for the month of September. This means I’ve got to make myself visible and actually ask people to LOOK AT ME (eek). That’s my stretch and the reason I’m participating. I need to get more comfortable with the spotlight if I want to grow. Tune in later as I do a Facebook Live video series, which was my challenge choice.

A what-the-what challenge?

Kelly McCausey’s Stretch Yourself Challenge is celebrating its 10th Anniversary in 2019. The September Challenge is focused on Content Marketing Activities that stretch you out of your comfort zone and reach more of the people you long to serve.

As I write this, we’re about two and a half days in and I’ve learned so much already. I’ve noticed when I get that pit-of-the-stomach feeling and I pause to ask myself why it’s appearing.

We have two teams in this year’s challenge, and there was an interesting conversation about competition. I was thrilled that we can earn points and win prizes and somewhat surprised to learn that others aren’t too motivated by that. It made me think about my competitive streak and how I’ve used it in the past. How I’ve possibly had more of a win-lose mentality than I realized, with little room for the in-between. And I’m wondering how many times I avoided going for something because I knew I couldn’t “win.”

Here’s the thing: by the end of September, I very well may find myself with a semi-mortified look and pie on my face, ready to power-walk away from the stretching I just did.

But I’m planting seeds in my subconscious. Getting a little more comfortable, step by step. Learning and growing.

If you’ve got a business you’d like to grow, consider joining the Stretch Yourself Challenge. With a little luck, you’ll be on my team! You have 15 challenges to choose from. They include things like creating YouTube channels, writing blog posts (and promoting like crazy), doing Live videos, hosting a virtual summit, hosting a webinar, etc etc. You pick a challenge that stretches you and then go for it.

Come play! The SYC encourages consistency and some good-natured smack talk. Plus did I mention prizes? Deadline’s Friday.

Meanwhile, tell me about some recent stretching you’ve done! What was it and what did you learn?