If you need some motivation and inspiration — have a read: “Few of us embrace change, and most of us are wired to resist *externally-inflicted change.* Getting pushed out of our comfort zones is by definition unsettling and causes us to feel anxious, uneasy and out of control. So in my attempt to reclaim power over my own destiny in the midst of a political and leadership upheaval in my workplace, I decided to prove to myself that I can do something really hard, and way out of my comfort zone. That turned out to be running a marathon. The *self-imposed challenge* was so far from my wheelhouse, repertoire and experience that I told myself — if I can do this, I can literally do anything.” change challenge leadership motivation inspiration covid19 coronavirus comfortzone goalsetting
I am not an athlete. I didn’t play competitive sports in high school or college and you’d much more easily find me on the academic decathlon or debate teams. So four summers ago, when I ran the San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon, my family and friends were more than surprised. They were taken aback by my announcement because prior to registering for the marathon, I hadn’t even attempted a 5K, I wasn’t going to the gym, and the only “regular” exercise I was getting was running after three kids for a decade — arguably a serious regiment of its very own kind.
So why did I do it? A better question: Why would I do that to myself? At the time, changes in the university landscape had pushed me out of educator-land to entrepreneur-land when I didn’t sign up for the adventure, buy a ticket, update my passport or learn the language I’d need in a new territory. I was firmly established and highly rooted in my identity as “college professor” and hadn’t yet resolved to upend that career and transition to “corporate trainer.” I had traveled to the land of training, keynoting, facilitating and coaching — always complacently knowing I’d get to travel right back to my comfortably situated home at the university.
Few of us embrace change, and most of us are wired to resist and fear *externally-inflicted change.* Getting pushed out of our comfort zones is by definition unsettling and causes us to feel anxious, uneasy and out of control. So in my attempt to reclaim power over my own destiny in the midst of a political and leadership upheaval in my workplace, I decided to prove to myself that I can do something really hard, and way out of my comfort zone. That turned out to be running a marathon. The *self-imposed challenge* was so far from my wheelhouse, repertoire and experience that I told myself — if I can do this, I can literally do anything. I can build my own business and create a roster of clients when for twenty years I was accustomed to being a salaried employee with built-in customers.
Something I never understood but was so curious about for years, whenever I’d hear people talking about running a marathon, was that completing the 26.2 miles was more about psychological fitness than physical prowess. How could that be? I always wondered how the mind over matter mindset could play out in what to me seemed like a far-reaching, and at the time, impossible goal. And yet — it was defined, measurable, time-based and I could somewhat visualize it. So I signed up, told my family about it over dinner, and set out to incrementally work up towards it for the next five months. I didn’t join a training team or change my diet or read expert advice. I just put on running shoes and worked up from one lap around my street, to 5 laps, to a mile, to two, to running at the park, the school track and the beach. And eventually it was showtime, and I told myself that 50% was showing up, and the other 50% was making it over the finish line.
The entire experience was a mind-game. It was about my self-talk. When everyone at the start-line passed me up, I told myself “slow and steady wins the race.” When I got to the 20th mile, I told myself I was just starting out and I’d practiced 6.2 miles at home. I saved the playlist I prepared for that last stretch. When a runner started crying at mile 21 and told me her legs couldn’t carry her any longer, I told her (and myself) we were done and simply going to collect our medals.
When I crossed the finish line, I dedicated the accomplishment to my future-self. And today — during the #covid19 #coronavirus climate, I am once again, as many of us are, forced to face challenge, overcome obstacles and get ourselves into the best psychological shape to meet new demands and stretch ourselves to gain new learning and create new commitments. I ran the marathon for days like these. My medal serves as a reminder of what I don’t think I can – but will – do! And if you’ve decided to enter the race and feel like you don’t have all it takes to keep going instead of shut down, I’ll be right there to let you know we’re going to push through and collect our medals.
Lee Broekman is a communication coach and trainer with a mission to make the world a better place, one communicator at a time. Her company Organic Communication works with high level leaders and trains decision makers in top organizations to communicate, collaborate and innovate naturally and effectively. Delivering programs in concentrated bursts, with high intensity and elevated engagement, Lee turns powerful content into actionable, applicable tools. Her recent book, Stop Blocking, Start Connecting: 8 Key Skills of Successful Communicators, is available on Amazon.