Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Endure Your Way To Success

I am often asked why I spend so much time training. Perhaps you are one of those that look at my various updates and wonder, wonder why. It is almost impossible for me to explain, but as the saying goes: "if you can't explain it, you don't understand it". I will try to explain.

Honestly, the reasons are many. But this is a vague response and not really an answer. So, I'd like to discuss at this time, why I do it. Why I get up at 4:00 am to exercise. Why I put my body and mind through the rigorous routine (although there's nothing routine about it) that is a marathon or Ironman training.

I do this simply put, because in this I find success. Such that in other arenas I may not be so apt to achieve.  While I may not gain the sort of victory as defined by others' idea of what it should look like, in my mind I find my own kind of triumph.

I started running some ten years ago and shortly thereafter I became a triathlete which brought me to the world of long distance, endurance events. I have completed 14 full marathons, an unimaginable number of half marathons, two 140.6 distance triathlons (one of which had a bonus 4 miles to boot), eight 70.3 distance triathlons and umpteen shorter distance events combined. Therefore I can say with certainty that swimming, cycling and running, does in fact yield a certain level of personal achievement.

Some folks may think or have been lead to believe that this is not reachable to them. They are wrong. Through the sport(s) I have met folks from all walks of life; doctors, lawyers, CEOs, CFOs, Bankers, Managers, Entrepreneurs, Parents, Preachers and Teachers, etc. The level of prosperity that these sports bring is not limited to profession or vocation. Its available for each and everyone, as long as they're willing to go work for it. It will not be handed to you, it will require effort, commitment, perseverance, grit and lots of determination.

This life style gives you purpose and meaning, some sort of happiness and contentment that goes far beyond financial and professional boundaries.

And more importantly, as endurance athletes, we bring this kind of success to our personal and professional life. Let me share with you some ways in which this can happen:

For the purpose of this post, I define an "Endurance Athlete" as a runner, cyclist, swimmer, duathlete or triathlete.

1). Endurance Athletes UNDERSTAND the importance of GOAL SETTING.  Nothing significant is ever achieved without first setting a goal. We set goals all the time. Our workouts are goal oriented; swim this far at this pace, ride this long at this speed, run this distance in this time, etc. Races are based on time goals.

2). Endurance Athletes MEASURE progress. We are obsessed with gadgets. Why? Because they measure stuff, mostly our performance and our progress.

3). Endurance Athletes VALUE time. Ever wonder why we show up to a race on time? Because we can't miss the gun. Some longer distance events have cut-off times. Can you imagine missing the cut-off because you showed up late? Yeah, me neither. I have been trying to turn several business associates of mine into runners, if for nothing else, but for this.

One second can shatter your dreams. One second. Imagine if you will, crossing the finish line at an Ironman distance and the clock reading 17:00:01

4). Endurance Athletes are highly DISCIPLINED. Training for a long distance event requires discipline. Some longer events require months upon months of consistency, sacrifice and effort. All of these hinge upon one characteristic; self-discipline.

5). Endurance Athletes know how to OVERCOME obstacles. Through the years, we have learned, sometimes the hard way, that we will have obstacles we must overcome; injuries and illness, fatigue ~ mental and physical, etc. Through the course of races, we will be faced with many obstacles, we must be and more often than not, are ready to overcome these in order to reach our goal.

6). Endurance Athletes are PATIENT. We value the process. We understand that in order to make things happen we must be patient. Training is a progression of hundreds of events all put together to take us to the finish line. There are no, nor can there be, any shortcuts. Patience is non-negotiable.

7). Endurance Athletes, for the most part, know that competing with others is NOT the most important thing. Competition is healthy and fun. But we must keep it in perspective. Competition cannot be the most important thing. We mostly compete with ourselves. We try to beat our "best" time. We understand that unhealthy competition can lead to jealousy and this can be disastrous for this will eventually divert our efforts and make us do what we otherwise know we shouldn't do. But please don't get me wrong, once the starting gun goes off, it's game time.

8). Endurance Athletes BUILD networks. Look around an endurance athlete and you will find a network of friends. We swim, ride and run together. For miles and hours at a time. Through this interaction, we build relationships, relationships necessary to achieve success.

9). Endurance Athletes know how to BUDGET. We know how to budget our time, our races and our finances. With so many options, we learn to make sure we get the biggest bang for our buck.

10). Endurance Athletes understand the power of LEVERAGE. We truly understand and learn to use the power of teamwork. Very few people can claim that the cross the finish line by themselves. Its almost impossible.

11). Endurance Athletes view failure DIFFERENTLY. We understand that failure is temporary and that in order to succeed, sometimes come up short, and we treat it as such. Of all the races I have done, getting close to 100 of them, I failed to finish once. Although I was devastated at the time, I learned plenty from this experience, lessons that would have gone to the wayside had this not happened to me.

In my professional life, I coach businesses in the art of leadership. I teach skills that relate to most, if not all of the above mentioned characteristics. I teach clients how to apply these to the workplace. Recently I was discussing with one of my clients his interviewing and hiring process and retention strategies, specifically for management positions.

I encouraged him (and this is what prompted me to write this post) to add to the qualification requirements of future candidates that of an "athlete", specifically if possible, an endurance athlete.

Can you imagine having someone in your team that already possesses all the above qualities? Yeah, how amazing would that be?

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