It takes resiliency to overcome obstacles and go against the grain.
I was talking with a co-worker of mine today and it struck me how much resiliency plays a role in our lives as athletes and fitness-minded professionals to other areas of our lives.
He and I were on a military deployment team together. He has totally changed his life by making the commitment to get fit.
The result? He has lost 50 pounds and is healthier then ever.
He is attending military schooling trying to make himself more competitive.
When is the right time?
He brought up the fact that he wants to pursue a graduate degree (keep in mind he is still working a full time job but wants to do this on top of it). The supervisor's response?
“Well you don't have time for that”.
Well, when is the best time? What I urge for you to do is to live you dream, live your life, go after your goals now.
Because tomorrow your going to be 80 and at the end of your days what really matters is that you took the courage to follow your heart, not conform to what someone else wanted for you.
They may mean well. They may feel as though what they are doing is right but at the end of the day it is not their lives, it is yours.
You have to decide for yourself the path you are going to take.
Bosses are not always supportive and it isn't just supervisors. It can be friends, relatives or teammates. There are going to be times when people just don't get you.
There will label you as ‘not a team player', not smart enough, not ‘talented' enough. Who gives a damn what they say. Who's life is it? Your life or theirs?
You have to commit not only to your athletics but all aspects of the way you live. You have one shot in this life. One chance. You had better start living, today!
What would you rather do. Spend your energy and time trying to achieve someone else's objective or make your focus razor sharp toward your own aspirations.
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We spend our lives as if we have endless time yet how much of it is spent trying to live up to other's expectations of us?
We try to please bosses, peers, friends undermining ourselves and for what?
What is insanity?
It is defined as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
If you are serious about your fitness and athletic goals, you are going to have to tell those who care about you that, without question, you are going to commit to this weight loss goal, this race, this objective.
Time and family are the two most precious gifts you have. You will be attacked for saying ‘no' to what others feel you should do.
Seth Godin, in his book, linchpin, could not possibly state how I feel more then this,
Discomfort brings engagement and change. Discomfort means you're doing something that others were unlikely to do, because they're hiding out in the comfortable zone. When your uncomfortable actions lead to success, the organization rewards you and brings you back for more.
The good news
There will be people that walk into your life that do care, love and support what you do.
Cherish them, especially supervisors who have a lot of power that they do not need to use in the first place to support what you do, if willing.
Remember as an employee, the job always comes first. Your goals and aspirations come on your own time.
I remember very well when I missed the 2008 USA Olympic Trials standard time of 2.22.00, my bosses response,
If you want to keep running, it will be on your own time, your place of duty is here in the office.
I couldn't believe it (granted I was a junior Non-Commissioner Officer at the rank of SGT at the time, not holding the rank of Captain that I currently am at).
One, I knew where my place of duty was and didn't need to be told where to go. I was a 32 years old at the time.
My heart will always be with the junior Soldiers and Non-Commissioned Officers. It is where I started, they are not payed enough and deserve far more respect then they receive.
It was the way it was said. You can understand why two months later it was such a good feeling to know that that same boss found out I had broken 2.20.00.
I had run a personal best time of 1.07.06 for the half-marathon a couple months prior and flew to Chicago to compete in the 2007 Chicago Marathon.
It was, unfortunately, held on the hottest day in the history of the race with starting temps at 76 degrees. I failed miserably.
I thought having run a 1.07 half-marathon, a 2.22.00 marathon was surely in sight. I remember running by a bank at mile two and it read '82 degrees' on the sign.
It turned out to be a very bad day. I hit the half at 1.11.22 and was completely shot. The Army payed my way to Chicago and in the Army WCAP program, quitting is not an option.
I practically walked and jogged the last 14 miles of the race and finished in 2.51.51, far from what I needed to qualify.
We have become close friends (my boss at the time) and he has told me, “I wish our Soldier-athletes had the heart and attention to excellence you have”.
These are not your average athletes, their world-class so it meant a lot to hear that and most importantly, he remembers my work as a Soldier and the attention I had to give to be a respectable athlete as well, in such a high powered, elite military unit.
I tell the story because it is crucial you hold to your guns and follow your passion.
You only have one time up to bat this in this life. If you want to get in better shape, lose weight or run a personal best. You have to follow your heart.
People will always tell you what they expect of you, if you are an employee you should understand this very well.
Are you going to live in accordance to what someone else wants for you, their expectations, or commit and take hold of your own life?
If you have a boss that supports your hunger and zest to set the example in your life, consider yourself fortunate, because it doesn't always happen.
There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures.”— William Shakespeare
What you have to remember as an athlete and professional is this. It is your life.
If you spend every waking hour trying to please the boss, do what your colleagues say you should do to ‘further your career' and not follow your own heart, you will regret it.
You will be 90 tomorrow and question why you spent all that time living down your aspirations and expectations and tried to live up to their's.
Who's ‘career' is it anyways?
Corporate America has a way of forcing it's expectations on us all and yet what happens? We listen to it, never question, do as we are told.
I have wasted much of my time doing what I should be doing, following the straight path and not spending enough time listening to what my heart was telling me, playing it safe.
There has to come a time when you follow your own path and stop spending your time trying to live up to someone else's goals for you.
My heart told me to ‘keep training' when I failed at the 2007 Chicago Marathon but a beautiful thing happened.
I got fired up about the goal I set for myself and earned something I dreamed about doing, earning an Olympic Trials standard.
Two months later I took a 2.51.51 failure and ran the best race of my life running 2.19.35.
No one is going to care about your goal more then you.
It will not fall in your lap and no one is going to care if you are out on the roads at 2am with not enough light to see in front of you.
It doesn't matter.
The choice is yours but you know what is beautiful about it? No one can take that away from you. It is your choice to make.
If you devote 40 minutes a day running, focusing your energy on losing weight, that is 40 minutes you just gave to yourself. You are in control, not a boss, not your peers or friends.
You cannot rest on talent.
I have known far more talented runners than me, who haven't run as fast as I have in other distances. I wish I could have run as fast as them at distances shorter then the marathon.
I have worked and trained with athletes who have run sub 13.40 5000m times and sub 50 minute 10-mile times who have never run under 2.20 for the marathon, even sub-2.25.
Be persistent and most importantly, honest with yourself
You and I are not guaranteed tomorrow.
If we are blessed enough to live a full life what I want for you, what I want for myself, is the knowledge that I did overcome obstacles, took risks.
You followed your heart and were willing to risk, willing to fail, willing to say ‘no' to something you didn't believe in.
You will have not existed, but truly lived, if you did this with the predicaments you faced. This is my wish for you.
If you are in a current predicament where you are at a cross roads of being told you need to do this to be considered a ‘good person', ‘good employee', ‘good leader'.
Ask yourself this question.
Does this tasking, this job or assignment that this person feels I should do in order to be a ‘good' whatever, fall in line with something I desire and truly want or is it something they want for me?
There will be times when people think they are doing you a service by telling you what they think you should or shouldn't do.
What matters is if you follow your own intuition and heart.
You only have one life.
What amount of time are you devoting to it or are you giving your time to someone else's goals?
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