A+

On a recent coaching call, my client John expressed frustration at falling into “same old same old” behaviours. He had set some action steps on our call the previous week and had failed to follow through on them. When I asked him what happened he said, “I just don’t feel motivated around this.” (Motivated, shmotivated)

We talked a bit more about feelings, and how they can’t always be trusted. If we waited to “feel like” doing most things, we wouldn’t get very much done at all. (But we would get lots of sleep, get caught up on a bunch of Netflix series, and eat a lot of junk food!)

I remembered some Powerpoint slide pictures I had used in some workshops a few years back.

“John, since I can’t show you the pictures right now, I’m going to do my best to explain them to you. Picture a well traveled walking trail in the woods – the dirt and brush patted down from hundreds or thousands of foot steps. It’s super easy to walk along because it’s flat and wide.

Now picture trying to walk off the trail and through the woods – stepping over branches, hacking away at small trees and brush trying to forge a way through.

The first path is kinda what your brain looks like when you follow a habit. Your brain makes shortcuts when you repeat a thought or behaviour. But when you try to change it, it’s like forging your way through the bush. So it makes sense that we fall into old habits. It’s so much easier and more inviting to walk the easy path.

BUT, if you continue walking on the new path even though it’s more challenging…it will eventually become patted down and easy to travel. And the old trail will become overgrown.”

John really liked the analogy so at the end of the call, as part of his homework for the week, I told him to find a picture that represents each of the paths so he would have a visual reminder. A few days later I received this picture in an email. (Yes, he had it printed and framed!)

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If coaching homework were graded, I would give him an A+ 🙂

 

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3:59.4

Everything is impossible until it’s possible.

Until May 6, 1954 running a mile in under four minutes was considered impossible. Runners had chased the goal seriously since at least 1886 but the elusive 4-minutes had always beaten them. It became commonly accepted that it was physically impossible.

But one windy day in England – May 6, 1954 – Roger Bannister did in fact break the “4-minute mile barrier”.  His time? 3:59.4.

But get this…what happened once the feat was no longer impossible? Forty six days later, John Landy broke the record with a time of 3:57.9 and within the next three years, sixteen other runners had broken the 4-minute mile barrier.

As it turns out, the 4-minute mile barrier was not a physical one, but a psychological one.

Everything is impossible until it’s possible.

JOX VINTAGE ORIGINAL 70's MENS RUNNING SHOES

Some really great stuff

“I hate quotations. Tell me what you know,” said Ralph Waldo Emerson. (See what I did there?)

I must say that I disagree with Mr. Emerson. I love quotations. Some inspire me, some challenge me, and some help me find the right words when I just can’t seem to find them on my own. Funnily enough I have often quoted Ralph Waldo Emerson himself. And why wouldn’t I? He said some really great stuff (but likely never used the phrase “great stuff” in his speaking or writing…which is kinda my point).

But I digress.

I want to share one of my favourite quotes from the first deaf-blind person to earn a bachelor of arts degree, Helen Keller. Helen is quoted as saying, “So much has been given to me, I have no time to ponder that which has been denied.”

Talk about a glass half full philosophy! No sight. No hearing. And yet no time to ponder that which has been denied. Amazing.

When I slip into self-pity or jealousy, I often recite Helen Keller’s quote to help me reframe – to remind myself of all that I have to be thankful for (it’s a long list).

What if we borrowed Helen’s lens on life? What would the impact be?

What would happen if we focused our time & energy on the things that we
DO have rather than focusing on those things we DON’T? (Things: our relationships, skills, passions, talents, accomplishments, resources etc.)

As humans, we are quick to see what’s not working in our lives…what we still need to work on….how far we have to go.

What is already “working” in your life?

What do you have? What has been “given to you” that you can be thankful for?

I sincerely hope that you discover, rediscover or remind yourself of all that you have, and all that you are.

And that your mind is filled with so many of these things…you would have no time to ponder that which has been denied.

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Failure can feel good

I had an interesting thought on the drive home from the gym the other day.I realized that I had experienced both success and failure in the same workout.

It was testing week at the gym and we were measuring our progress in both strength and cardio conditioning. This particular day we tested our 1 rep max for bench press and for back squats.

We did bench press first and I happily lifted 5 lbs more than the last time we tested (a few months ago). Hitting a  new personal best is a great feeling.  And, normally, I would stop there. I would take my success and “quit while I’m ahead or end on a high note”. This would increase my odds of setting a new PR the next time around (or so I have told myself).

 But this time, with some encouragement from my workout partner, and a recent decision to  try to “fail more often” I decided to keep going.
I couldn’t make the next lift. Half way up my arms stopping moving. I failed.

But oddly enough, I felt really good about it. Glad I had broken out of my normal pattern.

Instead of quitting when I hit a personal best, I went for it.

Who knew that failure could actually feel good?

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Becoming, Doing

“They” say, we become what we consistently do. I don’t actually know who “they” are. But I believe they’re right on this one. And that’s the primary reason I am writing this today.

I want to be someone who shares what I learn. I actually LOVE sharing what I learn.

I get excited about it – like “talk loudly, lift my eyebrows and use lots of hand gestures” kind of excited. And I’ve had a nagging sense for awhile that I want to write things down. To download so to speak.

So, if you think about it, it’s actually kind of impressive that I have managed to put it off for so long. (Is there an award for that sort of thing?)

But, we become what we consistently do.
So, I guess it’s time for me to break my undefeated record of NOT writing.

One. Day. At. A. Time.

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Photo by J. Kelly Brito on Unsplash

42.2

A few weeks ago, I ran my fifth full marathon. (For those of you who don’t know, a marathon is 42.2 kilometers or 26.2 miles).

A marathon is a test of physical strength and endurance not only during the race itself but also in the weeks and months leading up to the event. I’ve learned a lot during these times about how the training experience mirrors other aspects of my life. During a long run, I often battle the desire to quit. My muscles are screaming; I’m hot, tired, and thirsty, and I wonder why I’m doing it in the first place.

Similarly, in the process of establishing my own business and following my dreams, I have often fought the desire to quit. The bills are “screaming”. I’m overwhelmed, confused, and afraid. And I wonder why I ever thought this was a good idea.

But my training has taught me that endurance pays off….that there are times when my immediate goal may be to simply put one foot in front of the other. It’s taught me that I CAN submit my “feelings” to my “will” and that I have a choice with every step I take  -quit or keep going. I feel like quitting but I choose to keep going. And every step I manage to take brings me one step closer to my goal.

Shortly after crossing the finish line I realize what I just accomplished. And I’m grateful.

Grateful for all the mornings that I didn’t hit the snooze button.

Grateful for the three hour training runs I didn’t skip.

Grateful for not listening to all the reasons I “couldn’t”, and for the many hills I had to climb.

The very things that make the journey so difficult – the things I have to climb over, push through or leave behind – are the things that make me stronger and prepare me for what is yet to come.

 

(I originally wrote this 10 years ago. I have since completed 3 more full marathons. In my last, I wore a full monkey costume to raise money for charity and because I am crazy).

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Me and my dad.

How I see it

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about opinions, assumptions, biases and why it can be so dang difficult to seriously consider a different point of view (never mind actually changing one’s mind about something).
 
One quick scroll through my Facebook newsfeed gives me a pretty clear picture of how people “dig their heels in” to protect their ideas and opinions on a matter.  And, how NO amount of facts or data can change someone’s mind IF they aren’t willing to consider it. (I suspect a few hot topics come to mind?)
 
Ugh. I find it discouraging and disheartening. 
 
I did some quick reading on the topic and discovered that, “facts by themselves are meaningless. They are ones and zeroes to your mental computer, raw blank data that only take on meaning when run through the software of your feelings.”  Yep, even facts and rational arguments get filtered through our perceptions. (And I must say, some people’s filters could use a good cleaning. But that’s just my opinion. 😉 )
 
“I would rather have a mind opened by wonder than one that is closed by belief.” Gerry Spence
 
Amen. So how do I do that?
 
Well, I think it’s important to acknowledge that we run EVERYTHING through our filters and biases…ALL THE TIME! We can’t change something unless we are aware of it. And, our filters actually change the message we are hearing! (This is such an important thing to learn for effective communication in relationships.)  
 
And I also think it’s important to notice our posture.
Is my back turned toward an idea? Are my arms crossed? 
Am I actually listening to understand or am I only seeking to defend my case? 
 
It’s been over a decade since I read the book, “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”.
But one piece of wisdom rings in my mind more than any other.  
 
Seek first to understand and then to be understood. 
 
Just imagine what could happen if we did. 
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Quote from: Why Changing Somebody’s Mind, or Yours, Is Hard to Do by David Ropeik on psychologytoday.com