Back in the late 1990s, I became interested in running a marathon. Completing one such race, just once, was high on my bucket list. I would eventually run 12 more during a period of about six years. I became addicted to running, Runner’s World, running books, and the life lessons they provided. Here are three of them for your business:
All Too Often, Success is a Product of What Anyone Can Do
In his 1976 book The Long Run Solution, Runner’s World editor and author, Joe Henderson suggested that becoming truly accomplished at running (or at anything, for that matter) doesn’t typically require us to perform superhuman feats. More often than not, success and happiness find those who have the discipline to do the everyday things, the things anyone can do that most of us never will.
This concept struck a chord with me, and I never forgot it. Think about it. How consistent are you about doing the little everyday things that anyone can do – things could make such a big difference for your organization, yet you somehow let yourself and your organization slide by without doing them.
Keep Putting One Foot in Front of the Other
Simple enough, right? It makes perfect sense that if I want to go from here to there on foot that I just have to keep going. Oftentimes, we don’t. We get discouraged because the destination (goal) seems so far away. Left to our own devices, we either quit, or distract ourselves with a different, often times lesser goal.
Let me share a personal story. More than 15 years ago my teenage daughters asked if we could climb a peak in Colorado. Of course, standing on the peak is one thing, getting there is quite another.
At the start, the girls were quite enthusiastic. Yet, if you’ve ever climbed a mountain, you know that in addition to the physical challenge, there’s a psychological one. Because of the tendency to fix your eyes on the peak, it’s easy to climb for 30 minutes and feel as if you’re not making any progress. Fixating on any goal that continues to look unattainable can be quite discouraging. After about ninety minutes, the girls were ready to turn back.
But before we did, I suggested that rather than stare at the summit, they take note of where we were, climb for 15 more minutes, and reassess. If they wanted to quit then, they could. They reluctantly agreed. After 15 minutes, the summit didn’t look any closer, but when I asked them to locate the bush we used to mark our start position, they couldn’t believe their progress. So much so, that they felt a surge in their mental and physical energy. It was here that they learned there’s nothing like the view from the top.
Declare Victory as Often as Possible
Sometimes, on long run days or even during a few races, if I were not feeling 100%, I would stop and walk for awhile, run until I couldn’t run anymore, and walk again. I’d repeat the process until I reached the end of my run. This is how most people who are determined to finish do so when they’re just having one of those days.
A fellow runner told me that this can happen to anyone, but that I was thinking about it all wrong. He said that if you have to stop and walk, that’s fine, but when you start running again, don’t run until you can’t go another step. When you do that, you’re engaging in a mental exercise of repeated failure. Instead, when you’re ready to start running again, look ahead of you and identify a marker. Set that as your goal. Run to it and declare victory. Start walking again, and then identify another marker. Run to that and call it a win. He advised that declaring victory, rather than succumbing to repeated defeats, would help me finish more quickly and with a healthier attitude. It put me in control of the run instead of allowing the run to control me. It works brilliantly, and it will work for your employees, too.
Running Your Business: Prepare by doing the things anyone can do (that most of your competitors never will) each and every day. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. Worthy goals take time and effort, so don’t allow you or your team to get discouraged. Set short-term goals that afford your team the opportunity to celebrate victory as often as possible. You’ll not only achieve your goal, you’ll enjoy it so much better every step of the way.
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