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What's in my Ruck?

Prioritizing Self-Care and Personal Growth

by Colleen Barry


I had the great pleasure of spending some quiet time by a hotel fireplace in Vermont with two of my amazing colleagues, Kristine Newell and Jim Miller. Kristine is the Senior Vice President at Premier Sotheby's International Realty, one of the largest Sotheby's International Franchises in the United States. She's also the newly-published author of "The Habit of Grateful". Jim is the Executive Vice President and Designated Broker of Jameson Sotheby's International Realty's Chicago offices. He also has a successful coaching business and very popular podcast called "Ask Jim Miller."

We sat by the fire and discussed a number of professional and personal topics, ranging from the challenges of parenting to personal fitness routines. We discussed what motivates us and Jim talked about how habits can drive us past the mark where motivation ends.

I was telling them that I was rucking every morning with 25 pounds in my rucksack. The discussion wandered into what motivates people to prioritize their health and fitness -- what is it that drives someone to push themselves to new heights?

Kristine turned to me and said, "Alright, Colleen, what's in your ruck?"

I said, "This morning it was 25 pounds."

She responded, "No. I mean WHAT is in your ruck?"

Her question about what was motivating me stymied me. I hadn't really thought about why I was pushing myself with a weighted rucksack every morning, other than my desire to be more fit. The weighted ruck certainly seemed to have symbolism in it.

I drove home from that event thinking about it. I continued to think as I prepared for bed, and the next morning as I strapped the weighted rucksack to my back.

I went through the list of the big things of what might be in my ruck:

  • Is it the company I lead?
  • Is it my marriage?
  • Is it parenthood or my son?
  • Is it my own childhood?
  • Is it old fears or new ones?

None of those rang the epiphany bell… until I said these words in my head:

I’m in the ruck.

That rang the bell.

I think I’ve long put everyone else in my ruck… sometimes carrying more than I should. I was always trying to support others in my life. In fact, supporting others was the main driver in what had become a very successful career! It was time I put myself in there.

So, I think the weight in my ruck is a commitment to myself — making myself a priority and doing it first thing in the morning. Pushing myself to grow through challenge.

When my morning walk ends, I get back to the house and I take out the weight plate and I exchange it for my laptop. Then I make my family breakfast.

But, I put myself first.

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