Tag Archives: commitment

Stay, Damn it!

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One of the things that we’re learning in my leadership class is the concept of “stay.” Stay means having something that it’s important to you (your “stake”) and sticking with it through the highs and lows. Through the uncertainty and difficulty. It means keeping your focus when everyone around you knowingly or unknowingly seeks to divert you.

I’ve found the concept of “stay” useful in my runs. Yesterday, for example, I was only a half mile into my planned four mile run and I wanted to stop. But I was determined not to quit. I reminded myself that the first mile is the hardest, and told myself to stay with it. By Mile 2 I was feeling great. Then I hit another low just before the three-mile mark. It was hotter than I expected, I was getting tired. I wanted to walk the rest of the way home. “Stay,”  I told myself again. I slowed a bit, I tinkered with my breathing rate, adjusted my gait, and was back in the groove for the last mile.

“Stay” also comes in handy for the final miles of a long run.  For sticking with a training schedule, and yes, in those final 6.2 miles of a marathon.

What tricks do you use to “stay” when the going gets tough?

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A Runner’s Evolution

Today’s blog is borrowed from John Bingham’s No Need for Speed which I read recently. If you’re a beginning runner, especially if you worry about being slow, I definitely recommend Bingham’s books. I especially like this quote:

“As I set new goals, conquered new fears, and overcame new doubts, I became a new person. I was no longer the person who sat inside on cold mornings. I was not the person for whom comfort was the sole objective. I wasn’t the person who was controlled by the circumstances of my life…. What happens when we untie the ‘nots’ in our lives is that we can see beyond today and begin to imagine a different tomorrow. As you see the obvious changes in your body, you also begin to see the less obvious changes in your soul. When you untie the ‘nots,’ when you become fully engaged in the process of becoming a better athlete, you can’t help becoming a better person. You find, without realizing it, that you’re NOT afraid to change, learn and grow. You learn to look past all the things that you can’t be to those few that you can. As you learn to accept your limitations as an athlete, you’re less afraid to accept other limitations in your life. Your unique combination of talent and motivations, discipline and dedication, become the tools with which you build the person you most want to be.”

In my experience, new runners go through stages of evolution — that affect both the body and the mind. Pushing through old limitations, testing boundaries, and taking on new challenges. Standing shivering and expectant at the starting line waiting to find out what is possible on the journey to the finish. And knowing that the person who finishes the race, may not be the same person who started it.

What else has changed in your life since you started running?

Throw Yourself

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This feels like an appropriate Seth Godin quote to share as I head off to my first of four leadership retreats and literally and metaphorically “throw myself” out into the open with a group of 25 strangers, facing some very real fears:

“Leadership is scarce because few people are willing to go through the discomfort required to lead.

The scarcity makes leadership valuable. If everyone tries to lead all the time, not much happens. It’s discomfort that creates the leverage that makes leadership worthwhile.

In other words, if everyone could do it, they would, and it wouldn’t be worth much.

It’s uncomfortable to stand up in front of strangers.
It’s uncomfortable to propose an idea that might fail.
It’s uncomfortable to challenge the status quo.
It’s uncomfortable to resist the urge to settle.

When you identify the discomfort, you’ve found the place where a leader is needed.

If you’re not uncomfortable in your work as a leader, it’s almost certain you’re not reaching your potential as a leader.

-Seth Godin, Tribes

And special thanks to the friend who sent me this photo and inspiration the other day:

“The little guy is coming out of his shell to conquer the world armed with all the instincts he was born with.  He’ll (she’ll?) finish crawling out of the egg, scurry around a little, get oriented, then head out to the ocean to start an amazing journey.  Just made me think of you as you embark on the first retreat.”

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First Marathon Pep Talk

b16cb3a55884437a9244e95674feb760 This one is for all you first-timers…and is adapted from a message sent to one of my clients running Boston. 

First, you’re completely and totally physically ready for this race.

Did you hear me?  Read that again… (I’ll wait).

OK.  Now, your head is going to play all kinds of games with you over the next couple of days. Doubts. Fears. Inadequacies. Phantom aches and pains. Worries that you’re getting fat and out of shape in this final week with less running.  All of that is completely normal.  But remember, you’ve put in the miles and the time to train. If you’ve put in 75% of your planned training, you’re ready. You’ve totally got this.

In these final days, the most important thing you can do is to prepare your mind for the race. Because there’s going to come a point where your body wants to quit and your head needs to take charge and get you to the finish line. If you hit “the wall” (and you may not) there is going to come a point where you will question your sanity and swear you will never run again.  Ever. A point where every cell in your body screams for you to stop, sit down and give it up.  At that point your head needs to take over and tell your feet “right, left, right, left…” or perhaps imagine that a cougar is chasing you.  So here are a few things to focus on in the next few days.

Visualize the Finish.  Take a few minutes each day to imagine yourself running the final stretch in front of the grandstands. What will that be like? Who will you see? See it. Hear it. Smell it. The applause. You’re tired, but you’re smiling.  You’re getting your space blanket.  Your medal.  Your water bottle. You’ve done it!  You can’t believe it.  You’re a marathoner. Own that moment for a few minutes!  Let it sink in.

Mantra. Do you have one? Something you can repeat to yourself when you’re bored out of your skull. Or when things get really hard on those final hills. Just a few words that remind you of what you need.  Mine was “Strength. Power. Tenacity. Kick Ass” Over and over. And I wrote it on my forearm so that I would see it and remind myself. And yes, I used it!

Mentally Prep for the Course. Do as much as you can to get familiar with the course. Plan out your strategy for each 5-6 mile segment.  And start off slow!

Cheering. Is your name on your bib? Is it big enough to read at a distance? If not, I think you should seriously consider defacing your running shirt by writing your name in big black letters on the front and something like “Marathon Virgin” or “Jane’s First Marathon” on the back. It helps so much to have people cheering you by name from the sidelines and as they pass. And if nothing else, you can give the people behind you a chuckle.

Self-care.  Take care of yourself this weekend. It’s all about being as ready as you can for the big day. Sleep. Eat well. Stay off your feet as much as possible. Don’t spend too much time at the marathon expo — especially if you go the day before.

Be confident. I know this is your first marathon and that you didn’t “qualify” to run Boston. There are qualifying runners, charity runners, bandit runners, runners who had a friend… and runners who won a lottery.  But when the starting gun goes off, no one cares how you got there, everyone crosses the same finish line, and there are people who qualified who are going to have a bad day and finish behind you.

No matter how this race goes down for you, you are going to remember this day for the rest of your life. The tears, the pain, the sights and sounds, and the utter joy of crossing the finish line. It will all become a bit of a blur and (as I am told about delivering a child), the pain will fade and the pride will be… forever.

You’ve totally got this!

Readers:  Please share any other positive advice you can give first timers in the comments section! 

The Power of Perspectives

One of the things that’s been incredibly useful about coach training is understanding the power of choosing the perspective that you will take regarding a specific situation or set of facts. We really can choose to see the glass half full or half empty… or we can banish the glass entirely and replace it with an overflowing bucket. The choice is ours.

I’ve had a couple of hard weeks at work and have been in a bit of a funk post toe surgery.  I’ve decided to call that place “Wallow.” Wallow was a cold and dark place full of self-pity and self-inflicted misery. There was no exercise, no progress on important goals, and everything just felt more difficult than it needed to be. It wasn’t depression, I just felt mired in mud.

Yesterday I decided that Wallow wasn’t serving me very well. So I waged an eviction and decided to shift to the perspective of “Half Full.” Nothing actually changed in my life. The facts were still the same. But Half Full looked at the same set of facts and chose to see them differently – my toe was starting to heal, I really hadn’t gained any weight from not exercising, a huge project at work was behind me, the weather was improving, and my schedule in the next two weeks would give the freedom to begin making progress again.

That was a helpful change of perspective which put me in a better frame of mind, but it still wasn’t moving me forward. So with the help of friend from my coaching class, I moved to a new perspective we called “Running Free.” And I came up with 30 specific things that I’m going to do in the next 2 weeks to begin reclaiming my time, making progress again on the things that matter to me, and asking for support along the way–which I often don’t like to do. Some of these are small and some are pretty big.  But I’m excited to be moving in a positive direction again.  Also helpful is the fact that I’m accountable. The list is written down and it has been shared. I’ve got eight of them done and my list next to my computer as a reminder. I’ve promised to update her next weekend — and then the weekend after that.  Gotta get busy — time’s a-wastin’!

Running Free is lighter, brighter and full of possibility. I’m not actually running again and won’t be for a while, but I’m not going to sit around and feel sorry for myself because of it.  I’ve chosen a different path.

Is there a place in your life where you’re stuck or wallowing?  What new perspective might you find?

Guest Musings

This week I thought I’d take a break from writing and just offer up a few quotes and snips  that I’ve gathered in the past few weeks that have gotten me thinking:

“At times you have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition.  What you’ll discover will be wonderful.  What you’ll discover is yourself.”   -Alan Alda

“To be sincerely loyal to yourself is to allow yourself the freedom to grow, change and challenge who you are and what you think at any given moment in time.  The only thing you ever are for sure is unsure, and this means you’re growing, and not stagnant or imprisoned by old ways of thinking.” – Marc and Angel Hack Life

“As we let our light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same.  And as we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” – Nelson Mandela

“I doesn’t take as much as we think to step outside our comfort zone, it only takes a willingness.” – Mike Robbins

“Perfection, as it’s revered and pursued in our culture, is an unhealthy lie. A myth. A human construct. A marketing concept. In many cases, it’s a story told by people who want to manipulate your mindset and behavior to buy what they’re selling. And while it means different things to different people, the pursuit of it rarely leads to anything more positive than anxiety, insecurity, self-doubt and misery.” – Craig Harper

Do any of these resonate with you?   How so?

A Force… Of Nature

With a winter storm bearing down on the Northeast yesterday, I walked into the gym and it was overflowing with people, with every treadmill taken, and it stayed that way all morning – and up until the early storm closing at 1 pm. Seeing all those folks there got me thinking about the difference between motivation and commitment.

Those at the gym were the committed… the people who took time out of preparing for the storm to make sure they got their workouts in – knowing that it was unlikely that they would be able to get to the gym on Saturday during the blizzard. They had planned ahead, making themselves and their workouts a priority, even as the snow began to fall outside.

So often I hear people say “I’m just not motivated enough to get in shape or lose weight [or change whatever habits they’d like to change].” But it’s not really about motivation. Motivation is what happens when you see that picture of yourself looking unacceptable. Or when you realize that “enough is enough” and something needs to change. Motivation happens in the moment. Motivation is that resolution that you set on January 1st, pledging that this will be the year of the “new you.” Motivation is exciting – it gets you started, but it won’t get you the finish line.

That’s because motivation is transient. One day you wake up and you just don’t FEEL motivated anymore. Maybe you’re tired, or you’re stressed, or you feel crappy, or sorry for yourself. Your motivation needle drops to zero and before you know it, you’re back to your old ways. Not exercising. Digging into the freezer for that pint of Ben and Jerry’s. And probably feeling miserable about yourself for “just not being motivated enough to reach your goal.” Again. Damn. And the cycle repeats.

In those dark moments when motivation fails you, what you really NEED to summon is your commitment. Commitment is a powerful force that takes a stand for you and your priorities today, tomorrow, and the next day. Commitment is rooted in the why behind what you wanted to change. To be healthy, to be fit, to be happy, to start that business. It’s hard to put yourself and your priorities first. Somewhere along the way so many of us get taught that it’s “selfish” to put yourself first. But if we don’t take care of ourselves we can’t truly care for others.

Commitment is focus. It means putting yourself at the top of your to do list, blocking out time in your schedule for your workout, and saying no to people who will sabotage your efforts. Commitment is a mindset that you have a new and healthier habit now.

Motivation happens in the moment. Commitment happens everyday.

Live your commitment.