I initially decided to train for a half marathon with two purposes: As a daily constant reminder that my professional and personal journey in life is a marathon not a sprint and to train with a higher purpose-to run for those who can’t. My race was dedicated to family, friends and colleagues whose lives have been touched by cancer. My iPod playlist was fueled with songs shared by them. (Email me if you would like a copy.) In 2001 I lost both my father and one of my former lacrosse players to cancer. That year the V Foundation for cancer research became the charity my family supports. I have donated to the V Foundation in honor of the families I ran for. I encourage everyone to do the same: http://www.jimmyv.org/support-us/ways-to-give.html
Below are 13 insights from my half Marathon Run
1. The starting line bears a remarkable resemblance to a traffic jam in Beijing.
Insight: I made the mistake of being in the middle of the pack at the starting line. The congestion and varying paces of the runners surrounding me didn’t allow me to start my race at my pace. Had I run a 5K leading up to Oct. 3rd I could have more effectively planned to avoid this disruption. In business how are you running your race? Have you done sufficient market research in advance of launching a new initiative? Do you have a detailed backup strategy?
2. There is a difference between cosmetic fitness and athleticism. A shaved chest and bulging biceps do not help you run hills with chicken legs. (That guy got passed by a set of smirking triplets going uphill)
Insight: Appearance can be deceiving so don’t be intimidated by what you see. What you see often isn’t really what you get. Sizing up the competition in any setting doesn’t do you any good. Size yourself up because ultimately in business and life you are your own best competition.
3. I found it simultaneously humorous & motivating to pass people decked out head to toe in really expensive gear. (As I chugged along in my cotton t-shirt, lacrosse shorts, tube socks & 7 year old running shoes.)
Insight: Value substance over style; there is a disturbing trend particularly by our youth today towards style being a priority over substance. What you think your business may lack in can be made up for with work ethic, creativity and hustle. Remember substance never goes out of style.
4. Got passed by an Elvis impersonator during mile #5. Bet he felt the same way I did in #3. (Only about passing people not in costumes)
Insight: Have fun; inject your personality interests and humor into your craft whatever that may be. Most of all don’t take yourself too seriously. Businesses that do this enjoy a distinct competitive advantage in the marketplace.
5. You’re either really important or really idiotic to be wearing a blue tooth during a race. Got my answer when I heard the gentleman’s “I’m too sexy” musical ringtone go off.
Insight: Know when to disconnect. Those who spend all their time in the tyranny of the urgent inevitably never allow themselves to enjoy the ride. I encourage you to channel your inner-Ferris Bueller. Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while you could miss it.
6. Sound fundamentals & persistence make up for a lot in running & life.
Insight: We are like buildings under construction without a solid foundation at our base. Nothing of significance can be subsequently built. Mastering the basic fundamentals of running a race and running a business are not different at all. Both involve flawless execution of certain core competencies. Each display a resilience and persistence which do not allow adversity to be viewed as a dead end. Adversity is merely feedback or a detour on your road to success.
7. More people would take up running if they made beer flavored Gatorade & pizza flavored Power Bars.
Insight: If it were easy everyone would be doing it. Most things worthwhile in business and life involve hardship and challenge. We do not go through life untested. What we do with the tests that are placed before us determine our trajectory and direction.
8. If you’re texting during a race you just need to get over yourself….I think I hear your couch calling you.
Insight: Just like balance when you run a healthy work-life balance is one of the most important qualities you can have. Leaders promoting a healthy work-life balance for employees will do wonders for your organization’s growth.
9. Cowbells are an acceptable form of cheering, but the US needs to pass an ordinance against Vuvuzelas.
Insight: Focus–maintain the ability to filter out noise in your life. Noise can take a number of forms. There are the traditional interruptions in the work place. Then there are the energy vampires as mentor Jon Gordon refers to them: critics, media competitors, and other toxic individuals you come in contact with. In America cowbells are universally recognized as a form of cheering at almost all sporting events; vuvuzelas on the other hand are just unpleasant noise. Utilize a filtering mechanism to eliminate the vuvuzelas in your life. Otherwise, they will bleed you dry of your emotional energy.
10. How many of you can say you ever had a topless beer swilling fat man wearing a Viking helmet cheer for you while you were doing anything? (This made any permanent damage the race may have done to my body all worthwhile.)
Insight: Everyone needs a cheering section and support system: personally and professionally. My beer swilling friend reminded me of the African proverb-” If you want to go fast go alone. If you want to go far go together.” Whether it is a half marathon or a business you are running without support you certainly won’t go far. Have a cheering section and be someone else’s you’ll both go far together!
11. Crooked lines don?t send a good message. The DOT driver had to have been either half asleep or half drunk when painting some of the lines on the roads from Portland to Falmouth, ME.
Insight: It is important to take pride in your work, no matter what the task. Your work is in essence your signature. How you do what you do is a reflection of the true you. I firmly believe that how you do anything is how you do everything. Excellence is a habit and so is negligence. We are all in the first impression business so attention to detail is among the most important qualities you can possess. Good attention to detail never takes a break.
12. Everyone should have a coach.
Insight: My goal for the race was clear: follow my coach’s 5 month training program, stay healthy, and finish the race strong. Without my coach I may have been under prepared or more likely (knowing my personality) over trained and risked injury. A good coach makes a world of difference- they know when to push when to pull back. They know when to reassure you and they know how to hold you accountable. Having a good coach is a competitive edge that can be the difference between finishing a race and bowing out.
13. Mission Impossible theme song played on my iPod right at mile #13 (No idea how it got on there, somebody has a twisted sense of humor.)
Insight: Finish Strong and don’t let outside influences control the messages you receive. Deliberately fill the emotional tank of those around you with positive thoughts affirmations and feedback. It is the energy reserve we operate with on a daily basis as well as the reserves we call upon in trying times. The strength at which you end an event is of even greater importance than how you start. What does last mile excellence look like to you on a typical work day? Embrace it and use it to your advantage.
None of what we do would be possible without those who have served and currently serve our country, protecting our freedom. They have each earned our respect and admiration.Every time I see a soldier I make it a point to acknowledge their commitment by verbally saying to them that I appreciate what they do. If you think I’m preaching and not practicing please take note of the following: There was a soldier taking pictures of all the runners on mile #12 on the right hand side of the road. I was running on the left. I crossed over to the far side of the road slowed to a jog and thanked her for serving our country.