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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 October 15, 2019

    How to Plan Your Life Goals and Actually Achieve Them in 7 Simple Steps

    How to Plan Your Life Goals and Actually Achieve Them in 7 Simple Steps

    Where do you want to be 5 years from now, 10 years from now, or even this time next year? These places are your goal destinations and although you might know that you don’t want to be standing still in the same place as you are now, it’s not always easy to identify what your real goals are.

    Many people think that setting a goal destination is having a dream that is there in the far distant future but will never be attained. This proves to be a self-fulfilling prophesy because of two things:

    Firstly, that the goal isn’t specifically defined enough in the first place; and secondly, it remains a remote dream waiting for action which is never taken.

    Defining your goal destination is something that you need to take some time to think carefully about. The following steps on how to plan your life goals should get you started on a journey to your destination:

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    1. Make a list of your goal destinations

    Goal destinations are the things that are important to you. Another word for them would be ambitions, but ambitions sound like something which outside of your grasp, whereas goal destinations are certainly achievable if you are willing to put in the effort working towards them.

    So what do you really want to do with your life? What are the main things that you would like to accomplish with your life? What is it that you would really regret not doing if you suddenly found you had a limited amount of time left on the earth?

    Each of these things is a goal. Define each goal destination in one sentence.

    If any of these goals is a stepping stone to another one of the goals, take it off this list as it isn’t a goal destination.

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    2. Think about the time frame to have the goal accomplished

    This is where the 5 year, 10 year, next year plan comes into it.

    Some goals will have a “shelf life” because of age, health, finance, etc, whereas others will be up to you as to when you would like to achieve them by.

    3. Write down your goals clearly

    Write each goal destination at the top of a new piece of paper.

    For each goal, write down what is it that you need and don’t have now that will allow you achieve that goal. This could be some kind of education, career change, finance, a new skill, etc. Any “stepping stone” goals you removed will fit into this exercise. If any of these smaller “goals” have sub-goals, go through the same process with these so that you have precise action points to work with.

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    4. Write down what you need to do for each goal

    Under each item listed, write down the things that you will need to do in order to complete each of the steps required to complete the goal. 

    These items will become a check-list. They are a tangible way of checking how you are progressing towards reaching your goal destinations. A record of your success!

    5. Write down your timeframe with specific and realistic dates

    Using the time frames you created, on each goal destination sheet write down the year in which you will complete the goal by.

    For any goal which has no fixed completion date, think about when you would like to have accomplished it by and use that as your destination date.

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    Work within the time frames for each goal destination, make a note of realistic dates by which you will complete each of the small steps.

    6. Schedule your to-dos

    Now take an overview of all your goal destinations and make a schedule of what you need to do this week, this month, this year – in order to progress along the road towards your goal destinations.

    Write these action points on a schedule so that you have definite dates on which to do things.

    7. Review your progress

    At the end of the year, review what you have done this year, mark things off the check-lists for each goal destination and write up the schedule with the action points you need for the next year.

    Although it may take you several years to, for example, get the promotion you desire because you first need to get the MBA which means getting a job with more money to allow you to finance a part-time degree course, you will ultimately be successful in achieving your goal destination because you have planned out not only what you want, but how to get it, and have been pro-active towards achieving it.

    Featured photo credit: Debby Hudson via unsplash.com

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