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Personal Development Lessons from a Marathon

Personal Development Lessons from a Marathon

Personal Development Lessons from a Marathon

    The Pleasure and the Pain

    I recently went along to the Melbourne Marathon, here in Australia, to watch some of my team (Fiona, Johnny and Mikey) punish themselves for 42.2 km’s (26 miles). Aaah the pleasure and the pain of it all. The agony and the ecstasy. They all finished and they all did great. Well done guys. I rode my pushbike to the course so I could pedal beside those crazy kids for a while to offer a little support, some momentary distraction from the pain and some timely encouragement. Gotta say, on my current list of things to do, running a marathon ain’t anywhere near the top. While the idea of completing a marathon kind of appeals to me (in theory), I don’t know that my 95 kilo (210 lb) body-builder-ish physique would enjoy the experience or get me over the line (in reality). Having said that, I must admit that I totally love watching them and being part of that incredible energy. Even as a cheer squad. If you can’t get inspired watching thousands of ordinary people doing extra-ordinary things, then you don’t have a heartbeat. A sea of humanity all moving in the same direction; both literally and metaphorically. Where else could you see such a massive cross-section of people all working to their absolute max and fearlessly and passionately exploring their potential to achieve a common and a personal goal?

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    A Feelgood Event

    Watching people explore their boundaries and discover their own version of ‘amazing’ gives me goosebumps. Ironically, when people are exhausted and in pain is often when we see them at their best. Their genuine selves. No bullshit, no acting, no ego, no lies, no meaningless dialogue. They don’t have the time or the energy for pointless crap. Despite the obvious physical pain, a marathon is a feelgood event. There is universal and unconditional encouragement, friendship, care, compassion and support. To see complete strangers (both runners and spectators) encouraging, supporting and helping people along their way is both uplifting and moving. If only mainstream society was a reflection of the Melbourne Marathon. Over the course of a couple of hours I saw thousands of people and witnessed no anger, no rudeness and no negativity. In fact, quite the opposite. I rode beside an old(er) guy for a while and apart from getting his sixty-something body through the distance, he seemed to be on a personal mission to encourage every other runner over the finish-line as well. He was constantly talking, cheering and even clapping for the runners going in the opposite direction (it was an out and back course).

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    The Runner Salad

    Elite athletes, high-performance running ‘machines’, Ethiopians who ran without actually touching the ground, hard-core guys in army boots and backpacks, a girl running in bare feet, a woman with her head fixed at forty five degrees, two old blokes wearing shiny running shorts from the eighties, young alpha-males who only started training three weeks ago, the guy with the tennis racquet (racket) and ball, the woman with the worst running technique in the world who appeared to be jogging on the spot, the chubby woman who will “finish no matter what”, the eleven year old kid with the backward light-weight headphones who sang as he ran, the hi-tech crew and the old-school brigade… they were all there. They all lined up side by side.

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    Much More than just ‘a Run’

    Being a born motivator, coach and encourager, I couldn’t help but get totally drawn into the moment; the emotions, the psychological battles, the physical pain, the barriers being broken down, the incredible stories being written, the fears being overcome, the courage, the discipline and even the lives being changed. I know that all sounds somewhat melodramatic but for many people, running a marathon (or achieving any significant goal for that matter) is indeed a life-changing, mind-altering experience. It has the potential to change the way people think, behave and achieve – in all areas of their life. For life. It re-defines their standards, their expectations and even their beliefs. They become stronger, more courageous and have a greater insight into, and understanding of, their own potential. It’s truly amazing what we can achieve when we stop talking ourselves into defeat and we find a way, rather than an excuse.

    Doing What Most Won’t

    When we persevere and do what most people won’t (not just in a marathon but with any challenge), we learn, we grow and we change. When we endure the discomfort, face the fear and work through the challenge, we become a better version of us. We get stronger. More courageous. More capable. We develop new skills. We see things differently and we start to produce better results in our world. Why do the vast majority of people who start the marathon complete it? Because they have prepared. They did the work. The got uncomfortable on a consistent basis over an extended period of time. They got fit and strong. They did what the majority wouldn’t. They did what needed to be done to produce an exceptional outcome in their world. Marathoner runners understand what it takes to succeed. They understand the concepts of discipline, self-control, over-coming fear, dealing with discomfort, determination and perseverance. They understand that, more often than not, success has almost nothing to do with potential, age or genetics and everything to do with attitude and hard work.

    Thanks and congratulations to all the brave runners who inspired me that day.

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    More by this author

    Craig Harper

    Leading presenter, writer and educator in the areas of high-performance, self-management, personal transformation and more

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    Last Updated on September 15, 2020

    7 Helpful Reminders When You Want to Make Big Life Changes

    7 Helpful Reminders When You Want to Make Big Life Changes

    Overcoming fear and making life changes is hard. It’s even harder when it’s a big change—breaking up with someone you love, leaving your old job, starting your own business, or hundreds of other difficult choices.

    Even if it’s obvious that making a big change will be beneficial, it can be tough. Our mind wants to stay where it’s comfortable, which means doing the same things we’ve always done[1].

    We worry: how do we know if we’re making the right decision? We wish we knew more. How do we make a decision without all of the necessary information?

    We feel stuck. How do we get past fear and move forward with that thing we want to do?

    Well, I certainly don’t have all the answers, but here are 7 things to remember when you want to move forward and make positive life changes.

    1. You’ll Never Have All the Information

    We often avoid making important decisions because we want more information before we make a tough call.

    Yes, it’s certainly true that you need to do your research, but if you’re waiting for the crystal clear answer to come to you, then you’re going to be waiting a long time. As humans, we are curious creatures, and our need for information can be paralyzing.

    Life is a series of guesses, mistakes, and revisions. Make the best decision you can at the time and continue to move forward. This also means learning to listen to and trust your intuition. Here’s how.

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    2. Have the Courage to Trust Yourself

    We make all sorts of excuses for not making important life changes, but the limiting belief that often underlies many of them is that we don’t trust ourselves to do the right thing.

    We think that if we get into a new situation, we won’t know what to do or how to react. We’re worried that the uncharted territory of the future will be too much for us to handle.

    Give yourself more credit than that.

    You’ve dealt with unexpected changes before, right? And when your car got a flat tire on the way to work, how did that end up? Or when you were unexpectedly dumped?

    In the end, you were fine.

    Humans are amazingly adaptable, and your whole life has been helping you develop skills to face unexpected challenges.

    Have enough courage to trust yourself. No matter what happens, you’ll figure out a way to make it work.

    3. What’s the Worst That Could Happen?

    Like jealousy, most of your fears are created in your own head.

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    When you actually sit down and think about the worst case scenario, you’ll realize that there are actually very few risks that you can’t recover from.

    Ask yourself, “What’s the worst that could happen?” Once you realize the worst isn’t that bad, you’ll be ready to crush it.

    When you’re preparing to make a big life change, write down all of the things you’re afraid of. Are you afraid of failing? Of looking silly? Of losing money? Of being unhappy?

    Then, address each fear by writing down ways you can overcome them. For example, if you’re afraid of losing money, can you take a few months to save up a safety net?

    4. It’s Just as Much About the Process as It Is About the Result

    We’re so wrapped up in results when we think about major life changes. We worry that if we start out towards a big goal, then we might not make it to the finish line.

    However, you’re allowed to change your mind. And failing will only help you learn what not to do next time.

    Furthermore, just because you don’t reach the final goal doesn’t mean you failed. You chose the goal in the first place, but you’re allowed to alter it if you find that the goal isn’t working out the way you hoped. Failure is not a destination, and neither is success.

    Enjoy the process of moving forward[2].

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    5. Continue to Pursue Opportunity

    If you’re on the fence about a big decision, then you might be worried about getting locked into a position that you can’t escape from.

    Think about it a different way. New choices rarely limit your options.

    In fact, new pursuits often open up even more opportunities. One of the best things about going after important goals with passion is that they open up chances and options that you never could have expected in the beginning.

    If you pursue the interesting opportunities that arise along the path to your goal, then you can be sure that you’ll always have choices.

    6. Effort Matters, So Use It

    It sounds simple, but one of the big reasons we don’t make life changes is because we don’t try. And we don’t try because then it’s easy to make excuses for why we don’t get what we want.

    Flunked that test? Are you stupid? “Of course I’m not stupid. I just didn’t study. I would have gotten an A if I actually studied.”

    Stuck in a job you hate? Why haven’t you found a new job yet? “Well, I haven’t really tried to get a new job. I could totally ace that interview if I wanted.”

    Why do we make excuses like these to ourselves? It’s because if we try and fail, then we just failed. But if we don’t try, we can chalk it up to laziness.

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    Get over it. Failure happens to everyone.

    And the funny thing is, if you actually try—because it’s pretty clear that most people aren’t trying—then you’ll win a lot more than you think.

    7. Start With Something Manageable

    You can’t climb Everest if you don’t try hiking beforehand.

    Maybe applying for your dream job seems intimidating right now. What can you start with today?

    Can you talk to someone who already has that position and see what they think makes them successful? Can you improve your skills so you meet one of the qualifications? Can you take a free online course to expand your resume?

    Maybe you’re not quite ready for a long-term relationship, but you know you want to start dating. Could you try asking out a mutual friend? Can you go out more with friends to practice your communication skills and meet new people?

    You don’t need to be a world changer today; you just need to make small life changes in your own world.

    More Tips to Help You Make Life Changes

    Featured photo credit: Victor Rodriguez via unsplash.com

    Reference

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