For many years the only tool that I used to measure my fitness was my scale. My entire definition of success was based on whether the number on the scale was lower than it was the last time I weighed. As someone whose weight fluctuates wildly even from day to day, this single measurement yielded much frustration and discouragement. Often even when I would do everything right, my weight would not budge and I would quit whatever latest weight loss fad or fitness program I had started.
As I’ve gotten older (and fatter) I’ve realized that I have got to focus on a bigger picture. I made the decision that I would watch the scale but EVEN IF my weight did not go down, I was going to remain committed to improving my physical fitness. I now have a lengthy list of criteria that measure my success -- how my clothes fit, if I am able to increase the mileage I run or bike, how I feel, and whether I exercised 3 - 5 days a week whether I wanted to or not. EVEN IF I never see the number I hope for on the scale, I will keep going because I have learned to change how I measure success.
Likewise, the single factor that I used to measure my success in my career previously was my income. It wasn’t that I was overly obsessed with money but I am a very competitive person. My line of work is sales and in sales, income is how you keep score. If my career success was measured by income alone, then the "pinnacle" of my career just so happens to be the time in my life when I was most unhappy.
We recently photographed a hotel virtual tour. The owners had several weeks to prepare for the photo shoot and when we arrived, they had chosen their very best rooms for us to shoot. They sent their head housekeeper with us to make sure everything was absolutely perfect. After we delivered the pictures and virtual tour, they wrote back and complained that the pictures made the bed skirt look wrinkled in one of the rooms.
Really, you think it was the camera that did that?
Do you ever wonder where all the hours go? Do you ever get to the end of your day and feel like you have not accomplished anything? Have you ever started a diet or exercise program and become frustrated because you aren’t seeing results?
We’ve all been there, in fact we may go through periods where we feel that way every day. In exercise, there is a concept called the Borg Perceived Exertion Scale which rates the level of physical exertion that is perceived by the person and compares it to the actual exertion as measured by things such as heart rate, calories burned, etc.
The challenge is that often what we perceive to be our level of exertion is not really accurate. Have you ever been to the gym and seen someone who walks around the gym flirting and chatting and never seems to do any actual exercise? You can imagine though that this person goes home and says that they worked out for two hours! If you’ve ever worked in an office environment, you’ve probably seen the same thing! If you have ADHD like I do, you've probably DONE the same thing.
I saw a cartoon on Facebook that said, “If you want me to go running with you, I'm going to need some motivation...Like a clown chasing us with a bloody knife and margaritas waiting on us at the finish line”. This was posted by a friend of mine who swears she could never run a race with me but now I realize that with the proper motivation, I could have her out on the road with me as I train for my half marathon.
When things get tough, it’s extremely important to understand the WHY of what you are doing if you want to find the WILL to continue...
I struggle to find balance in my life so I had the brilliant idea last week that since I had so much to get done, I would set a daily agenda and outline what needed to be done during which hours to successful run our virtual tour business as well as my personal life. Now this may work well for some people but it backfired for me. I had this great calendar set up last week that told me when I would blog and when I would eat and when I would make cold calls and when I would sleep. By the end of the week, I felt like a complete and total failure because I did not stick to the schedule AT ALL!! In retrospect, I actually accomplished a great deal last week but because I did not do it in the hours I had planned to, I felt defeated.
Mark Twain is credited with the quote “Do the thing you fear the most and the death of fear is certain” but it was my mentor and business partner who drilled that saying into my mind and made it become a part of my life....
As I sit on my deck overlooking the Mississippi River, there is an American eagle flying overhead. With several large eagle’s nests near our house, it’s not uncommon to see as many as 7 or 8 eagles at a time. There are two huge trees on either side of our house and the eagles often sit in their branches and survey the water below. These birds are a beauty to behold and watching them from just a few feet away on my deck has given me a deeper appreciation for how majestic and complex they are.
There is a well known scripture in the Bible that speaks of “mounting up with wings like eagles.” If you have never seen an eagle “mount up” then you may think this only refers to the eagle floating effortlessly on the wind. In fact, some versions translate the word Hebrew word for mount as “soar with wings like eagles” and that’s probably because most people have only seen an eagle that is already in flight.
But take a look at this slow motion video of an eagle mounting up and the Scripture takes on a different meaning. I’ve seen this many times up close because the eagles don’t like it when I come too close on the deck. There is no way to describe the sound of the power behind those wings as these giant birds take off. The look of determination and extreme focus in their eyes is awe inspiring and really gives new understanding to what it means to “MOUNT with wings like eagles”.
True success rarely happens overnight whether in nature or business. I’ve seen the eagle’s nest with the babies in it - not quite ready to take flight and dependent on their parents for their basic needs. I’ve seen the babies that have recently left the nest and don’t yet have the beautiful white head and tail -- they really don’t stand out much from any other bird of prey.
So often the same thing happens in our every day lives. We see a small business owner whose business seems to run itself, we see an athlete who breaks records running a marathon and doesn’t seem to break a sweat, we see people whose marriages look like a perpetual honeymoon. We compare ourselves to them and think that they must have some special gift we don’t. What we often don’t see in these cases is what these people looked like in the beginning...before they reached a level where the wind picked them up and allowed them to soar effortlessly.
I’ve been there -- When I started running, I could barely run for 60 seconds straight and yet I am now six weeks away from running a half marathon. When we started in virtual tour photography, we couldn’t GIVE our tours away and now we have a thriving national virtual tour business and much of our business comes from referrals and repeat business. The reason that so many people don’t stick to a new venture is that they lack that determination and focus that the eagle has when he first takes off. They assume it was going to be easy at first or on the other hand, they see how hard they have to work in the beginning and assume that it’s always going to be that hard.
What I have never seen is an eagle turn around and come back to the tree and say, “This is too hard”. That is because the eagle knows instinctively that by putting in the initial effort necessary to mount up then eventually he will catch the updrafts and be able to soar to heights that other birds couldn’t even imagine.
If you’ve ever seen a NASCAR Race or watched a bicycle race, you might be familiar with the term “Drafting”. Drafting is a strategy to use the aerodynamics of the racer in front significantly expend the effort and energy of the riders behind him. Scientists have demonstrated that a racer riding in another’s slipstream will expend 30 to 40% less energy than the rider in front.
Drafting can be done cooperatively or it can be done competitively. In competitive drafting, the racer behind the leader stays in the slipstream of the leader to conserve his own energy and also to force the leader to expend more energy. There is no give and take here. Even though the rider in front gets a physical and possibly psychological benefit from having someone inches from his front tire, the bottom line is that the rider in the front has to work the hardest.
To truly understand the beauty of drafting, watch a professional bike race like the Tour de France. This three week bicycle race across the mountains of the Alps and Pyrenees is truly an epic event which pushes professional cyclists to their very limits and it is an amazing demonstration of the power of collaboration and teamwork...
In the Biblical creation story, it says that God looked at everything he had made and was pleased so on the seventh day he rested. In the top ten list of rules He later gave to Moses, number 4 was to honor a day of rest every week. If the God of the universe thought rest was so important and even rested himself then why do we look at it as a dreaded four letter word? One of the hardest lessons for me to learn as a beginner athlete and as a small business owner is that REST is a requirement - not an option.
Either I will choose to rest or my body will shut down and force me to rest!
You may have heard it said that the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” but perhaps it’s time to rethink that definition.
Sometimes the only way to see results IS to do the same thing over and over and over again. In fact in many cases, the definition of insanity is expecting results without doing the same things over and over again. This applies to my life right now more than ever as I train for my first half marathon and work to take our national virtual tour company to the next level.