In the early 19th century, when boxing was quite popular, one who wished to challenge a boxer would throw his hat into the ring. This was probably necessitated by the crowds and noise at such events; you'd be missed if you simply tried to shout out a challenge or push your way through the crowd and into the ring. Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt used it in 1912: "My hat's in the ring", he said, meaning that he had entered the presidential race.

Throw your hat in the ring: the act of making a definite, time-bounded, external declaration of what you intend to take on or accomplish.

While coaching my friend Jerry Bishop through her first 30-day challenge she asked,

“What's your next accomplishment you are going after?”

I had recently completed my first Tough Mudder, a series of breakthrough speaking engagements, and written The (unofficial) Tough Mudder Song. But I had not thrown my hat into another ring for something new, specific, and time lined. I had been thinking about writing a song for my mother. Thinking about it for almost 3 years- first for her 70th birthday, then on subsequent Mother’s Days and birthdays, and then on my parents 50th wedding anniversary...

"Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now". -J. W. von Goethe

Here is my response to Jerry:

“I am taking on writing and recording a song for my mother and posting it on her facebook page on Sunday.”

Mother’s Day was less than 3 days away. I literally created and completed more in 3 days than the previous 3 years combined. The completed video of Ode to my Mother was on her facebook page on Mother’s Day and she loved it. Without Jerry asking me this question and my subsequent willingness to throw my hat in the ring it is likely this song would still be rolling around in my head next Mother’s Day.

This is the power of Level Four (L4) Integrity. L4 combines the best of L3 with powerful external motivation. It is when you have an empowering future which gives meaning, purpose, passion and intensity to your DC’s (daily commitments) NOW. I first wrote about this in The Tough Mudder Goal-setting Formula. The following is an excerpt:

Champion athletes visualize winning in advance. Self-help books tell us to write our own eulogy. The late great comedian George Burns actually booked himself to play the London Palladium as a 100th Birthday celebration. Perhaps you’ve had the experience of being extraordinarily effective the week before a vacation. These are all ways of creating our future in advance. Our future affects our present.

Consider today creating an inspiring, definite future for yourself- one that will give you meaning, purpose and passion right now. Do you want to:
• Play the guitar? Sing? Do stand-up comedy? Book an open mic night.
• Lose weight? Register for a run, hire a trainer, buy the clothes you will fit into.
• Take a vacation? Call the hotel and give them a non-refundable deposit for a specific date.
• Start a business? Get the business card printed.
• Increase your sales? Register for a sales seminar, hire a coach, book a celebration date now for 3 months out.
• Write a book? Design the cover and look at it daily.

I leave you with the question Jerry asked me: “What's your next accomplishment you are going after?” And of course a challenge, Throw your hat in the ring!

Author's Bio: 

Doug Grady is President of High Achievers Network. For over 17 years, Doug has been engaging audiences from coast to coast with his wit and wisdom. Exciting, entertaining and enlightening are words invariably used to describe his unique seminars and workshops. He has been privileged to share the platform with legends Brian Tracy, Tom Hopkins, Tony Robbins, and Dr. Denis Waitley. As a business owner, professional speaker and musician, Doug is a jack of many trades and a master of one: helping you master yours. The companies he has trained include AFLAC, BNI, MetLife, and Sprint.

"Doug Grady gives you practical, proven ideas and methods you can use immediately, and he presents them in a fast-moving, entertaining and enjoyable style." -Brian Tracy, Author, Maximum Achievement

"Doug Grady has real world information that will make you listen, make you laugh, make you think, and make you money." -Jeffrey Gitomer, Author, The Sales Bible