(Reprinted with permission)
My marathon journey started in 2011 after I read Jack Canfield’s The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be. Canfield’s first principle is that you must take 100 percent responsibility for your life. While it sounds easy in theory, it is hard in execution because we generally make excuses instead of taking ownership over things we can control.
In addition, Canfield wrote about the importance of keeping your commitments as a key to success. For me, my lack of exercise was the biggest area of my life for which I made excuses but actually had absolute control over. I wanted to commit to something outside of my comfort zone and to me there was nothing scarier than running the NYC marathon.
Over the past three years, I have run more than 1,000 miles and finished three marathons all because I stopped making excuses and kept a commitment. Below are five things that I learned during my training that can easily be applied to any area in your business.
1. Keep Your Commitment
In business you can’t let difficult challenges prevent you from following through with a plan. In fact, you must use the hardship you face as the driving force to see the commitment through. It does not make the process any easier but it does help give clarity to hitting your end goal.
Running my first marathon, I had knee injuries that almost stopped me in my tracks. My second, I needed emergency surgery on an unrelated matter that took four weeks to recover and set me far behind in training. This year has fortunately been filled with good news, including the birth of our third child, but the sleepless nights have not helped support a stellar training program. In addition to the injuries and family responsibilities, my role in owning a 30-person online continuing-education business would fill my entire day (and then some) if I let it.
The commitment I made to myself – and not wanting to break that promise – is what got me through these hard times. Sometimes success can be that simple.
2. Clear Goal + Good Plan = Strong Mental Toughness
Too often in business we have to contend will all three parts of the equation without any guidance. No clear goal, no real plan to get you there, and lots of toughness along the way. Many entrepreneurs grow their businesses by using their gut and intuition but get stuck when they hit adversity.
What’s great about the marathon is you have a clear goal of 26.2 miles and a proven training schedule to hit it. Therefore, the main thing you have left to contend with during training is the adversity you face week in and week out. Since I did not have to put any additional thought into the goal or plan, I was able to focus all my energy on being mentally tough to keep up with the 30-mile (or more) weeks and life challenges that got in the way.
It made me realize that the stronger my convictions are in my business goals and belief in my plan to get there, the more mentally tough I will become in business.
3. Have the Right Mindset
As business owners, we focus on outside challenges like raising money, managing a team, and acquiring new customers. While all of these issues are important and need to be addressed, they do not hold a candle to the internal challenges that we face on a daily basis as an entrepreneur: stress, self-doubt, negativity, loss of focus, blaming others, and fear of failure.
If you have the right mindset and a positive attitude, there is no outside force that can stop you in your journey to success. When training for the marathon, I turned to inspirational speeches and videos that I could listen to while I ran. Without these speeches playing in a loop, it would have been hard for me to get through some of the tougher moments. The same type of inspirational experience-sharing must be applied to business. It allows you to get the 10,000-foot view and work on the business instead of in it.
4. Run Through The Wall
In business we come up against walls all the time. They key to overcoming them is having the right partner or mentor to help see you through challenges. During my training, I was told that after mile 20, marathon runners hit the same kind of wall. For me it happened at mile 23 of my first marathon; my feet were burning and my legs had shooting pains. All the signals in my body were telling me to stop running. Trust me, that is all I wanted to do. I was lucky enough to have a more experienced running partner who kept pushing me for an additional 30 minutes. He motivated me and kept my focus on the finish line instead of the pain. It is no different in business: We all can benefit from other people’s expertise to get through the “pain” and hit our big goals.
5. Experience New Things
Too often in life we get caught up in a daily routine. As entrepreneurs, though, it is in our DNA to shake it up and learn new things. I did not expect that in training for the marathon I would also encounter so many new adventures. I ran over many bridges in NYC (and there are plenty!), through almost every neighborhood, and was able to fall into the runners’ zone and have a deep focus for hours on end. I readjusted my schedule to wake up every morning at 5:30am. I read new books that inspired me, met new people, and took part in over a dozen races.
I used to be someone who never ran more than four miles at a time, but at 34 years old, I now project myself as a “marathon runner” to the outside world. Now “the sky is the limit.” The question is what will you do to shake things up in your life and business? It is never too late to try something new!
All opinions, advice, and experiences of guest bloggers/columnists are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions, practices or experiences of Solo Practice University®.