Accidents and unexpected things happen and you never know when they will occur. But when something tragic hits, they tend to force contemplative moments.
That’s what we are going through this week after Founder and CEO of Whole Champion Foundation, Barbara Edelston Peterson, had a mountain biking accident on Monday afternoon at the end of what she texted was “a gorgeous three and a half hour ride.” She called the accident “a good size” and spent some time in the emergency room, where she learned she fractured her clavicle and needed staples and stitches in multiple places on her arms and legs.
The hospital did the necessary tests for diagnosis, attended to her injuries, and gave Edelston Peterson some medication to manage the pain, before sending her on her way. She had a bit of a rough night, but by Tuesday afternoon was reflective and understanding the need to prioritize her own care.
We talked about how this accident was a reminder—yet another reminder—of how short and fragile life is and why it is important to live life in a way that resonates with you. This was also the lesson we “relearned” in May of this year when ski racer and gravel bike racer Moriah Wilson, a close friend of Barbara’s daughter, was gunned down in Texas one week before her twenty-sixth birthday.
Because you never know how long you’ll be on planet Earth or how quickly your life can change, it’s important to:
DO WHAT YOU LOVE: don’t wait for an accident
There’s only one you. Only one person with our unique talents, developed skills, and interests. And few others that feel passionately about the exact combination of things that you do. Since this here is your shot at life on Earth, it is important to do exactly what you love. That may be mountain biking or competing in a sport or playing at the beach or lying in the sun or helping rescue animals or baking or anything at all.
Daniel Pink, in his book The Power of Regret: How Looking Backward Moves Us Forward, says that most people regret the things they didn’t do (missed opportunities and chances not taken) more than anything they’ve done. You have the opportunity not to be one of those people.
Follow your heart. Take chances. Do what you love.
SHOW LOVE TO OTHERS
It seems obvious to say that we should show love to other people, but how often do you actually do it? Odds are you have hundreds of people in our life, yet you show your love to only a select few. And sometimes it’s only to people who have had accidents or are sick or dying. Maybe it’s a learned behavior. For example, your parents or grandparents rarely said, “I love you” and figured you should just know. Or maybe you think your actions should speak louder than your words.
But sometimes actions can be difficult to interpret and words can sound hollow.
The best ways to show love is to tell people and to back it up by what you do—and not just to the select few but to humanity. The second pillar of being a whole champion is social responsibility, and that means caring for others.
We can show our love to others by saying hello to strangers we pass. Asking someone how they are and really waiting for the answer and expressing that we believe the other person matters.
We can also call people on the phone, maybe people whose voices we haven’t heard in all of our usual texts and e-mails and social media chats.
Love can be shown in all sorts of ways, in any scenario, at any time.
BE THE PERSON YOU’VE ALWAYS WANTED TO BE
In Atomic Habits, James Clear encourages readers to assume the habits of the person they strive to me. We think that’s a great idea but would also encourage people to actually behave exactly how they want to be. Don’t wait to become an activist or environmentalist or a recycler or someone who lives sustainability. BE that person. Start today.
If you wait and work slowly on habits to become that person, you may never get there as life is short and we aren’t promised a tomorrow.
Barbara Edelston Peterson wiped out doing what she loves: mountain biking. She started Whole Champion because she wanted to be the change she thought was needed in the world. She wanted to show more love and care for other humans and the planet. And ironically, she decided to do all of that years ago when she had a different kind of accident and fractured both of her heels.
Sometimes it takes an accident to force us to re-evaluate and make changes. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We can choose today to do what we love, be who we want, and to show love to others—to be Whole Champions.