Waiting On You

“Thinking will not overcome fear, but action will.” – W. Clement Stone

Your dreams and goals are waiting on you to take action. I am convinced that nothing positive happens in life without action – a conscious decision to move forward toward your goals in spite of fear.

Fear intimidates us and it will continue to do so until we decide to step forward and impose our will on life. The thought of failure is often far worse than the actual event.

“There are risks and costs to action. But they are far less than the long range risks of comfortable inaction.” – John F. Kennedy

12 years ago – 3 years post military – I had allowed myself to become overweight…really overweight. At the height of the scale, I weighed 235 pounds which was about 50 pounds more than what I should have weighed. I felt terrible…awful. I had stopped exercising but kept overeating for 3 years. Traveling for work, stress, and a love for junk food had taken their toll on my body and my sanity.

One Sunday, I was sitting on the couch and began to really hate what I had allowed to happen. I was more than just miserable, I was downright angry. This would go on for months until one Sunday I decided that I was not going to let this define who I was any longer. I felt like crap and I decided that I didn’t want to feel like crap anymore. It was time to take action, so I did.

“Vision is not enough, it must be combined with venture. It is not enough to stare up the steps, we must step up the stairs.” ~ Vaclav Havel

That Monday I showed up at the local YMCA, signed up for a membership, and committed to myself that this was the beginning of a transformation. That one decision altered the course of my life. I went back the next day, and the next, and the next for months and then years. I started eating better and busting my ass in the gym 5-6 days per week. I took up running, then endurance running. Activity is contagious, unfortunately so is laziness.

Over the next 18 months, I dropped over 60 pounds and found myself in the best shape of my life.Was it easy? Hell no. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but I did it and that’s the point. I could have sat on the couch with a bag of chips and a beer and continued to feel sorry for myself…and 18 months later I would have still been fat and miserable.

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Those lazy desires and bad food habits still lurk beneath the surface. Those habits never totally go away, but the more right choices I make, the easier it becomes to win the battle.

Deciding to take action (mostly without the slightest of plans) was the trigger to changing from the person that I loathed, into the person that I knew I could and should be. This wasn’t about image, it was about health, about feeling better, and about setting a better example for my kids.

“I know that I have the ability to achieve the object of my Definite Purpose in life, therefore, I demand of myself persistent, continuous action toward its attainment, and I here and now promise to render such action.” ~ Napoleon Hill

12 years later, I am still with the healthy and fit lifestyle. It has never been about a diet with me, it has always been about a different lifestyle. Action starts the wheel of success turning and good, consistent habits keep it spinning. Whether it’s fitness, business, or relationships, they all require daily action followed by good habits.

So whatever it is that is holding you back, make a choice to take action. Don’t worry about where that choice may lead, just take the step. One step in the right direction could change your life. Believe me.

30,000 Feet of Perspective

3 months ago, my brother asked me to run a 100 kilometer trail race with him near our birthplace in Louisiana. I hem hawed around for a month or so, unwilling to commit. I had just completed two marathons within a month of each other after spending the majority of the summer and fall training, but 100 kilometers? 62.1 miles?! That was a different story altogether. I am usually not one to shy away from seemingly impossible tasks, but this one was different. In the past, I have set difficult goals but they were goals that were mostly doable and even if I missed, I had the confidence that I would at least get close to accomplishing them.

This one though…this was one of those things that seemed so far outside of my realm of possibility, that it actually posed a more serious opportunity to fail and fail big. I had never run anything more than a 50 kilometer race (31 miles) and this was double that distance and even more daunting, probably15-20 hours of non-stop movement on my feet. Do I have the willpower to do this? Am I physically and mentally capable of covering 62 miles of trail? Is my life insurance paid up? Actually, that was my wife’s question.

After a lot of debate and even more questions of my sanity, I decided to commit and at least give it a shot. What’s the worst thing that could happen? Death, actually. Death could happen. My brother calmed that fear though assuring me that I would pass out first. Thanks bro. My brother is a much more experienced trail and ultra-runner, so I would need to lean on him for that experience and knowledge if I had even a chance of succeeding at this challenge.

Fast-forward a couple of months, and I am on a plane headed to Texas – then Louisiana via car to the Kisatchie National Forest. What the hell was I thinking? Seriously! The race is 36 hours away and I have no idea how this will turn out. I consider myself to be a determined and strong-willed person who is in more than decent running shape, but the doubts are swirling.

This is life though, right? We prepare the best we can for it, but in reality we have no idea what tomorrow holds. If the future brings obstacles that require determination and discipline to overcome, how will we react? I will tell you how; by giving it everything we’ve got and refusing to quit. That’s big talk from 30,000 feet up, but in 36 hours, it will be time to step up and put my will to the ultimate test.

Stay tuned…

Get Off of the Fence

I should (fill in the blank) but I’ll wait until tomorrow. If you’ve said this today, or even in the last week, you’re fence-sitting. Why? What are you waiting on? The perfect day, better weather, the right mood, greener grass? How has that worked out for you in the past?

If you don’t like where you are, you have two choices – accept it and live with it or take action and change it. No one is coming to save you from your circumstance. You won’t wake up tomorrow with a different life if you go to bed tonight with the same fears.

“The world is more malleable than you think and it’s waiting for you to hammer it into shape.” – Bono

Too many of us are under this grand illusion that successful living just happens; one day we just wake up and the life we want will magically take shape. It won’t. Nothing positive happens without action. Nothing.

“The best way to predict the future is to create it.” — Unknown

We only have so many years on this beautiful planet and the more time we spend wishing, hoping, and fence-sitting, the less time we have to see and do and live. We sit on the fence because we are afraid to fail. What’s so bad about trying something and failing? Every single person who has found success has failed…many times.

“Success seems to be connected with action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes but don’t quit.” – Conrad Hilton

So get on with it. Get off of the fence and start doing. Experience a different life. Don’t die with your bucket list unchecked. Take pictures, talk to strangers, see new places, climb mountains, swim in the ocean, start a business, ask for the promotion, work hard and do epic stuff.

Stop trying to figure it all out before you try something. Step out and take the first step. Try hard things and fail at them. Action is contagious and it feels good to exert influence on the world around you.

“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The fence will always be there, but our time is limited. We get one shot at this thing; don’t waste it. Get off of the fence and start living.

Endurance Runners: Why They Do It

Endurance Runners: A special breed of men and women who push themselves to their physical and mental limits, and then push even harder.

They drive themselves to the brink of complete exhaustion and then go even further. They train to endure, to outlast; not the competition but themselves. Long after most would have quit, they continue on with an unquenchable thirst for more. More pain, more agony, more suffering. It is in this pain that they discover who they really are.

Their tanks are never empty. They always have more. When they run out of strength, they are able to dig deeper than most to find that little extra drop of determined courage to continue. Their minds are unharnessed by the limitations of mortality and their hearts are free from the strain and pressure of societal conformity. The quest to find meaning in their existence stretches far beyond fatigue. In fact, fatigue is only the starting point.

Everyone understands fatigue, but most never tap into the innermost recesses of their spirit to discover the inner grit and determination to push past fatigue.
If they were to venture into this abyss of mental and physical anguish, they too would understand that life is more rewarding when we explore these dark and remote corners of our soul.

For them, there is no end…no finish line. There’s only more to challenge and discover.

“The cure for the pain is in the pain” – Rumi

Most people wait for the feelings of fear, sorrow and misery to find them (and it does find all of us), but endurance runners seek them out. They know that the only way to beat them is to face them head on.

When you ask, “why do you put yourself through this?”, you’ll often hear them say “I can’t explain it to you”. They’re not saying this to be pretentious…no, endurance runners are far from egotistical.

They’re saying it because they know that the only way you’d ever understand it would be by putting yourself in those same dark and lonely places of the soul and fighting your way out. There are important lessons to be learned in the pain of life. Don’t wait for it to find you. Seek to find it, understand it, fight through it and learn from it.

Stop Letting Emotions Dictate Your Life

The ability to overcome negative feelings and forge ahead in order to accomplish an important task is one of the most overlooked aspects of developing a strong mental attitude. Too often, we wake up in a funk and allow that feeling to persist throughout the day. It affects our mood, our mindset, and causes us to perform at a subpar level.

Perhaps we don’t wake up with a bad attitude, but then someone cuts us off in traffic, sends us a nasty email, gives us a backhanded compliment, or we get an extra helping of projects and boom…frowny face syndrome sets in.

If we are not able to shake off those negative emotions and move on with our day, it leads to lost productivity and the tragic waste of an otherwise, perfectly good day. Too many of us let our emotions control us; we let them dictate our lives. String too many of those days together and you have a real grump who’s constantly waiting for the sky to fall.

“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life. It goes on.”    – Robert Frost

Learn to identify those temporary emotions for what they really are; brief sensations that can signal anything from fear or concern to outright anger. While some of these emotions can be good, as in telling you to run from that dog that just broke away from his owner, we weren’t meant to hold on to them. Acknowledge the emotion, react if necessary and then move on (assuming the dog didn’t catch you).

Learning to focus on the bigger picture of the day without getting bogged down in the ranges of emotion that sweep through our bodies on a daily basis is the key to maintaining mental focus. We need to stop being reactive to our emotions and start being proactive with our actions…in other words, don’t let your emotions dictate actions.

“Any person capable of angering you becomes your master.”        —Epictetus

Understand your emotions for what they are and learn to recognize that they are temporary. Don’t allow them to make permanent decisions on your behalf.

Know that our feelings and emotions often lie to us. Just because we have a feeling about something or someone does not necessarily make it a reality.

Shift your focus to the task at hand and move forward. When you do, these feelings will take a back seat and eventually return to the nothingness from which they came.

Take back your life and pursue your goals with constant forward action everyday. Relentless forward progress accomplishes great things as long as you are in the drivers’ seat.