Give It Up!

I know that this is not what you are used to me saying.  I know I am usually the one pushing you forward and encouraging you to keep going.

Today, I’m changing my tune a bit to both keep you on your toes and to lighten your load.

Sometimes to keep moving forward you need to look over what is going on in your world.  So let’s examine a few things that might be worth giving up.

I hear all the time that in order to be successful it is a hard road that requires sacrifice and pain. This thought is the basis of the statement that “if it were easy it wouldn’t be worth it.”

I’m here to challenge all this.

First off – if we buy into the notion that whatever we’re working on is hard, we look for ways to prove this.  If you are trying to lose weight and you tell yourself how much stuff you can’t have and how hard it is to stay on track – how do you think you feel about your eating plan?  Then, top it off with what everyone refers to as a “cheat meal” and then feel wonderful about that!

If you’ve been reading my work for any amount of time you know how powerful I feel language is.  I believe this is where many people can benefit from a change of mindset and it will make a huge difference in how it goes for them.

If you work on creating a positive atmosphere around what you are doing I guarantee you that it will make even the hardest tasks more pleasant and easier.

For example – when setting out for a long run, I can choose to think about the miles, the heat and the effort the whole thing is going to take me.  Instead in order to get a good run in, I think of the fact I’m doing meditation at the same time, how good I will feel when I’m done, how accomplished I will feel and how strong I am becoming.  I’m not telling myself anything that is not true however I’m just focusing on all the benefits of my run instead of all the challenges.

Status Quo

The other thing that deserves review is this idea of change.  This is a natural progression in life.  Why are we so against change?

I encourage you to give up on the notion that life should be the same all the time.  If we didn’t have ups and downs how boring would life be? [Raise Your Hands And Scream-Aug 2012]  Think of the blooms we would not see if seeds never broke their shells and sprouted their first leaves!  Think of the life you would live if you never grew up and never changed.

Give Up The Story

Finally, the last thing I want you to give up today is the notion that your dream life can’t come true. Please give up the thought that your dreams are too big, you’re too old or that your time is past or whatever is holding you back from chasing that spark that lights you up.

Look, if you are still breathing – even if you’re on life support – it ain’t over til it’s over!

When you give up all the stuff above, you make space for all the greatness that you can possibly hold, and if your arms get full, think about what else you can give up that is not allowing for great stuff to come into your life.

Focus on the benefits you reap from chasing what you truly desire.  Focus on the life that you wish to live and what you look, feel and act like when you are living that life.

Remember that change happens, it is not something to be feared or forced it is natural, doesn’t have to be scary and brings beautiful things like butterflies and blooms. Sometimes there is a spot during this that it feels like life is in chaos however it will pass and just understand it is a temporary part of change.  If you fight it less it will carry you along.

And last but not least, step into your dreams bit by bit.  Nothing is too big or crazy – look, we’ve got people sending cars to the moon and a guy who created the pool noodle.  So get crazy, creative and dream anything you want then take a small step towards it.

Look, you’re going to give up things along the road of life, let’s make them things that have been weighing you down or holding you back from living your dreams, not the dream itself.

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Becoming Limitless

**Warning this process can become addictive**

Fear is paralyzing at times. It causes us to remain in a place not necessarily of comfort but of familiarity. The old statement “the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know.”

However fear stifles growth if you let it. It shuts down the very essence of living because as the saying goes, “if you’re not living, you’re dying.” I don’t know about you, but I’m not ready to be dying.

I have no desire to live a predictable life where outcomes and results are safe or guaranteed, so I live life in a manner that scares most people (mostly my poor father).  I move to places I’ve never been and don’t know anyone, I take risks like starting my own business and I dream big, like building an island retreat center.

I am constantly taking steps in the direction of my fear because although I’m not a thrill-seeker, I do like the feeling of overcoming my fear.  In the case of fear, the end justifies the means for me.

Most of what I do on a regular basis is something I hear others say they could “never do” – but I thoroughly disagree. I think everyone has the capacity to live the life I do however for some, it’s not what floats their boat, and for others they just haven’t mustered the courage to take the chance to try.

Here is the thing though. I did not wake up one day with the courage to do these “crazy” things and dream as big as I do. As a matter of fact, I was a child who was scared of the dark and had many fears that required an unimaginable amount of stuffed animals for comfort and a feeling of security while I was growing up.

I made little strides over time. My mother was not entirely gentle on pushing me through some of it, but it worked just the same. Sometimes the fear of your mother being mad is way bigger than whatever bogyman you think exists! Regardless of how, my mother was intent on raising me as a capable young woman and stretched me to do things I was afraid to do. Through the process I began to cultivate courage.

As I got older, I put myself into circumstances that were a bit difficult to say the least. I found that I was able to overcome incredible odds because I just had to. I learned that even if I thought something was not possible, I should try anyway.  Sometimes things turned out the way I hoped…and sometimes not, but I always learned something from the experience.

I found that my boundaries and limits were really not as clear as I thought. I continued to push them both figuratively and litterally. I started small and continued to expand as I had successes.

I can still remember the feeling of crossing the finish line of my first 5k race. Having been a two pack-a-day smoker for over ten years, this was not only an unthinkable achievement, but a goal I never would have even considered just years before.

Today I’m a marathoner.

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So this is where the warning comes in. I have found that once you start realizing that limits are self perceived, you may start looking for your next challenge. Each time I overcome a challenge or overtake fear, I think, well if I can do that, what else can I do?

Today I encourage you to take those baby steps to stretch your courage just a bit.  To work at something you feel might just be a bit out of reach for you.  You will be amazed at the feeling you get just by trying and as you build successes.

As you begin to expand your vision of what is possible for you, you may find yourself looking for the next big thing just out of reach, and the next, and the next. You get the point.

I’ll just remind you, you’ve been warned!

I can’t wait to hear where your newfound courage takes you!
-E

 

The Key to Success

Just Show Up!

The key to success: Show up and don’t give up. This is it. It is that simple, don’t complicate it by thinking too much!

I have been a runner for almost 10 years. I have challenged myself many times along the way, and at times I have just complacently run along at a pace and distance that were comfortable for me.

I just recently ran my second marathon, I felt better prepared for it than my first because I had one experience under my belt. Although I had read the elevation map this time the hills still took me by surprise. I had read about how flat and fast a course this was, however neglected to remember it was still going to be over 26 miles of running! Of course I knew it intellectually, but I forgot how that feels in the moment.

The First Battle Is Your Mind

 I had a lot of time to think over the seemingly endless miles. There were many times where I was tired or sore and I thought about how much easier it would be if I just stopped. I began to try to figure out how would I get back to the start line to get in my car. Then almost immediately I dismissed the crazy idea; I started a marathon, I would finish it. What helped me through this was that I began to realize how far I had already run and how little was in front of me. I remembered the stories about how many people quit when they are right about to get to where they envisioned. At that point, there was no decision to make but to see it through.

Nope, I don't think so!

I started to see how much my life was like this marathon. I know it’s cliché, “Life is like a marathon” but it’s cliché for a reason. I have been going through my life and career as a 5k runner, occasionally throwing in a 10k. All these races were fine and even a little challenging as I sought to better myself through time and distance, but was I all that I could and wanted to be? Was there something more?

Becoming a Marathoner

Recently I left the corporate world (my 5k & 10k world) and became an entrepreneur (a marathoner). I get up before the sun to line up with many other great people seeking the feeling of self-powered accomplishment. We tackle hills together, some walk, some power up, and some just keep their pace slowly cresting the top. There is almost always a point along the course, or as an entrepreneur, where you question why you are doing this, is it worth it? There is most often a little pain along the way, but we keep moving forward, either slowing our pace or walking if need be. We each face our own challenges along the course, those known and unknown. We have to remind ourselves from time to time how far we’ve come so we don’t give up. The key to those of us that succeed is we just don’t stop, we keep moving forward because for us, there really is no choice but to see it through.

The Success Medal

I believe if we each live our lives as marathoners on our own course, regardless of the distance chosen, we will almost undoubtedly receive our medals. We prepare the best we can, read the maps and signs before we embark while understanding there will likely be unforeseen challenges and obstacles along the way. We power through, slow or walk if we need to but we keep moving forward. Some will get to stand on the podium, but we each receive our medal for our efforts and persistence.

In life success is our medal, some may have a faster pace than others, everyone has their own form and style, but if we just show up to the starting line and don’t give up, we can earn our medal. Where are you on your own course?

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10 things I learned running my 1st marathon

I had the most fabulous opportunity to spend a weekend with a dear friend who had recently been declared cancer free.  He gathered a group of the most inspirational and beautiful spirited people to create Team Choose Joy and together we ran the Austin Marathon raising funds for LiveStrong.

I’m always looking for reasons to celebrate, and being declared cancer-free is one of the most celebratory occasions I can imagine!  Often people gather and celebrate a life once it has passed; so rarely do we celebrate a life being lived.  It was wonderful to be able to celebrate Sean’s successful treatment and the all the effort and energy he put towards his treatment and ultimate triumph over the disease.  The amazing people running in support of Sean were all living strong and wonderfully fulfilling and purposeful lives and many, I later found out, are fighting their own battles – but nothing was stopping them.

I have learned so much from runners, they never cease to amaze me, and once again, I learned a tremendous amount as I tackled this new goal with many more experienced runners by my side.

Here are a few lessons I learned along the route of my first marathon:

  1. Just show up – making the commitment to be there – ready or not is the most important part.
  2. Just keep moving.  Start out with a goal time and pace if you wish, but no matter what, keep moving in the direction of your goal.  Eventually you will get there; maybe not as you expected but you will arrive at the destination as long as you don’t stop.
  3. Be open to the unexpected.  Plan for your race, however be open to new obstacles that you didn’t anticipate.  Throughout the course there are many variables and some are out of your control, do not let the unexpected throw off your race.
  4. Enjoy the encouragement and feedback from people along the way.  You will have to dig deep at some point and you will likely need their voice in your head to help pull you through those times.
  5. You can do almost anything you think you can do.  Remember though, if you let your confidence fade, you can also talk yourself out of what you are truly capable of accomplishing. This works for or against you, the choice is yours and it will make or break your results.
  6. Enjoy the process.  It might be your first or your 100th time doing this but each time will have something unique about it.  Be open to experiencing each time to its fullest.
  7. Rally the troops!  If you do things with a group of likeminded people the joy will exponentially raise (remember this goes for negativity too!)
  8. Trust the original idea, not the current discomfort.  Remember during times of doubt, at one time, you thought this would be a good idea.
  9. To every uphill there is a downhill and the trick is to manage your pace as best you can through both.  Also remember, sometimes the biggest uphill is right before you reach your goal!
  10. Above all, smile.  People are watching you and even as you struggle, you might be inspiring someone.

We each have our own battles along this road, but we are all running this race.  I encourage you to just show up each day and move forward at whatever pace you choose with joy and passion for the length of your course.

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Superheroes Among Us

On April 15, 2013, at approximately 2:50 pm two bombs were detonated at the finishing area of the Boston Marathon. People who were present described what they witnessed as if it were a scene out of a movie. Hundreds of people were maimed and lay in the streets calling out for help. Superman did not arrive, nor did Batman, or Robin or Wonderwoman…the bystanders rushed in to help the victims.

It is said that among the smoke and confusion no one looked to the sky for a superhero, they didn’t have to; ordinary citizens became superheroes that day. As the days have passed, we have watched closely and lovingly as the survivors mourn the loss of their family members, and those who were hospitalized begin to heal and leave the hospitals. We watch those who have lost limbs, or suffered grave injuries learn to walk all over again or develop methods to live their lives differently now. These people are revealing they are superheroes.

I have the absolute pleasure of living in Boston. Since that tragic Monday afternoon I have witnessed innumerable tributes to those injured, and activities to promote healing for all. It is clear to me that all who were affected by the cowardly act of senseless violence were not present on Boylston Street. The outpouring of support from all over the world speaks to the fact that all who were wounded that day did not bleed. People everywhere were deeply affected by this event and many wish to help the healing.

Not too long ago, I heard about three more superheroes from the UK; Kate Treleaven, Danny Bent and Jamie Hay. These three individuals from the UK have organized an event called One Run For Boston (onerunforboston.org). This is an epic relay with more than 1,000 ordinary citizens across the US running approximately 3,000 miles in 300+ segments. This is the largest superhero gathering I’ve ever had the honor to witness! Each day since June 7, 2013, at any moment of any day until June 30, 2013, there will be someone, or group of people, running their heart out to support the victims of the Boston Marathon tragedy.

I get misty-eyed with each post I read knowing full well how much these people are giving to right the wrong that was done that day; to overcome evil with such overwhelming love. My heart is filled with joy and hope by the superheroes I’ve come to know on this journey. It is amazing to find that there are so many of these individuals who simply are walking among us.

I know Superman is a fictional character, but I know that those who wish evil on ordinary citizens in Gotham City and beyond are unfortunately real. May we never need to call upon them, but have the comfort of knowing we are part of an amazing community filled with ordinary people who, when needed, have the capability to be superheroes.

Peace
reveal your superhero

A Bright Day

I sit here in my home office on a bright sunny day. There are news crews outside my window where days before police officers lined the streets with comrades in arms from SWAT, US Marshall, State Police, ATF and FBI (and probably others, I lost track). The suspected bombers of the Boston Marathon had a shoot out with officers a couple of nights ago, and subsequently the final bombing suspect was captured in my neighbor’s boat the following day.

Suffice it to say, it has been one heck of a week when a wonderful traditional day of triumph and accomplishment in Boston turned to devastation, sadness and fear. A show of solidarity and community has been received from across the world to our little city with intention to overcome evil and fear that was inflicted on us, and felt across the US. There has been a tremendous outpouring of love and support to all the victims, many of whom are runners, were left without legs – the most devastating injury a runner could have received. There is a steadfast commitment to those affected by this tragedy that they will not be alone as they struggle to regain their “footing.”

Upon the capture of the suspect, our “shelter in place” order, was lifted and we were allowed out of our house. My daughter and I immediately went outside to thank all of the officers as they left their positions. It was heartwarming the number of people for whom this is just their job, to put their lives on the line for those they do not know. As we thanked the various officers, they thanked us back, for I guess just staying out of their way so they could do their job – trust me, there was no way I was going to interfere! The officers smiled and told us, “You can have your neighborhood back now. Sleep well tonight”.

I sit here on this beautiful day, which is very reminiscent of Monday, April 15, trying to make sense of this all and find some direction to heal the devastation I feel and embrace the healing being sent to all of us in Boston. I watch as neighbors bring coffee and breakfast to the officers standing guard as the crime scene, which is my neighborhood, is still being processed. I watch all the videos I can of the tributes being held across the state honoring the victims of this tragedy, the first responders and the officials that kept this disaster from becoming worse. I am so encouraged by the London Marathon being raced today.

I am just sad, and waiting for the sadness to pass so I may rejoice in all the good that has come from this terrible course of events. This is truly a week I will never forget, try as I might. I hope when the news crews leave, and the attention to my neighborhood dulls I will be left with a great sense of what truly happened this week. A community was touched by a terrible event and a world came out to say we are One Boston, we are Boston Strong and no one will stand in our way of living our lives as we wish and deserve. Terror will come and go, but love will result.

I have never been more proud to be from Boston as I have been this week. We may win sports competitions, but that each one of us has responded to this tragedy with love is what truly makes us a city of champions. We have a long road before us, longer than 26.2, but I know we will never forget these people healing and will continue to be by their side every step of the way. Pray for our healing, there is much before us. Time for me to go for a run.

Peace

Good just isn’t good enough

I was listening to an old Tony Robbins audio I found online the other day as I often do when looking for an infusion of inspiration (I highly recommend it). Tony was talking about what results a good job produces. Now when he first asked the question, “What happens when you do a good job?” I immediately thought, well, good things. He let the thought linger for his audience and then responded “you get poor results.” Well, this kind of confused me, and he figured it would confuse his audience obviously because he went on to explain. If you do a good job at work, will you get promoted? Will you maintain your job even? Often times, the answer to those questions are no, and in this economy, even more so!

So the audio goes on to talk about doing a great job results in good results, one has to do an extraordinary job to get really good results. Tony went on to say that constantly keeping this in mind and not resting on your laurels, but pushing harder and better is necessary to be the person you are able to be.

The morning after I listened to the audio I went on to run a small local 5K race as I do from time to time. I was on pretty good pace and was going to be happy with my time based on my mile times. I got about a half mile away from the finish line and was very content to meet my goal time…then Tony showed up!

So here I am running my pace, and Tony pops into my head and says, sure, that would be a good time, so you’re ok with good? Oh man, that stung! No, I’m not ok with good, so of course I picked up my pace and finished with my best personal record for a 5k. Thanks Tony!

Since that day, I am often interrupted while in the process of something I’m doing now with my own voice saying, “Is this what you aspire to be? Is this extraordinary work, effort or product? Is this my best work, I mean my absolute best work for this moment in time?”

It is hard work to keep the motivation to continually push and strive to be a better person than I was yesterday, but I must say, I love the feeling that what I leave behind is my best work – whatever it is that I’m doing. It’s funny because I didn’t think I was “sitting on any laurels” but it turns out, I can do better at everything I’ve been doing. I just need to realize I was settling for doing a good job and I never asked the question – “Is doing good, good enough?”

Are you living a good life? Is a good life giving you the results you desire? Is there more effort you could make in one area that would produce great or extraordinary results? What personal record could you shatter today?