September 19, 2017

3 Things Endurance Sports Can Teach You About Leadership

A Guest Post by Joel Runyon

I used to think endurance racing was torture. Go run a marathon? Yea right. An Ironman? Ha. 100 mile race? You’ve got to be kidding me.

Then I actually tried it. And I realized: endurance racing, while it’s one of the hardest things you can do, is also one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. It has a ton of life lesson that happen as a result and as more and more CEOs and organizational leaders pick up the sport, I can’t help but reflect on how much endurance sports can teach you about leadership.

#1 How To Pick Hard Goals

It’s hard to pick easy goals when you set out to do endurance sports. Almost everything you do is something you’ve never done before – something beyond your limits. But once you start to do them, you realize that your limits are static – in fact, they actually stretch. So you get used to picking hard goals, things you’ve never done before and barely imagined that you could accomplish.

As a leader, you won’t get very far by setting easy goals. Easy goals tend to make you lazy, apathetic out of work as soon as you run across someone who’s a little hungrier than you are. The big goals, the impossible goals, the ones that you’re almost scared to say out loud: those are the ones worth setting. Those goals are the ones that inspire people to get behind you and want to join you. The hard goals are the ones worth doing.

#2 The Value of Delayed Gratification

It’s hard to get up every saturday and go for a six hour bike ride. It’s hard to decide to put 6 months of hard work in for 1 day. It’s hard to eat the same diet for long periods of time. Sometimes you just want a beer, ya know?

Endurance racing teaches you’re training for something much bigger than what’s going to make you happy today. You’re planning on completing a big goal and you know you’re going to need some discipline to get there.

As a leader it’s easy to do whatever seems good for the present moment, but the true test is when you  can make the good long-term decisions and build for the future. Sometimes the employee needs to let go. Sometimes you need to do an reorganization. As a leader, you don’t have any easy decisions to make, but endurance training can help you make the hardest ones when you have a clear vision of what you’re building.

#3 The Fun Part of Pain

Any endurance athlete will tell you they hate the pain that comes with the sport, but they love it. The agony of traversing 70.3 or 140.6 miles is turned into elation as you cross that finish line. You did it. And it was totally worth it. So you do it over and over and over again.

The pain is part of the fun.

Being a leader is hard. you have to set vision, take responsibility, stay late and do the work that no one else wants to do. But it’s so worth it. Getting a team to coalesce around an idea, pushing forward in the face of adversity and making it happen is painful, tough and sometimes you want to quit. But, when you finish, and it’s done and you see what your team has accomplished, you can’t wait to go and sign up for it all over again.

Want to get started in endurance sports? Run your first triathlon in 3 months with Impossible TRI (affiliate link)

Joel Runyon writes about pushing your limits through endurance activities and doing impossible things at the Blog of Impossible Things and Impossible HQ. He just released Impossible TRI to help you run your first triathlon in 3 months. Follow Joel on twitter.

One Million Enduring Acts of Kindness

Seems Like a Good Idea To Me

 

Today I met Bob Votruba. Bob has a bus (pictured above, out my front window). Bob also has a dog named Bogart, which happens to be a Boston Terrier (like my Dog Harold).

The interesting thing about Bob is that he is on a quest. His quest is to inspire people to perform One Million Acts of Kindness in their lifetime. For those of you with a math background, that’s 50 acts of kindness a day for 55 years (To be exact, it’s actually 1,003,750 if you don’t count leap year. I better get going).

Image that. Fifty acts of kindness a day for 55 years. If that’s not an act of endurance, I don’t know what is.

The Big Goal, Broken Down

One Million of anything is a huge undertaking. For most of us, it just seems impossible. That’s why breaking it down to a more manageable task is the best way to go. Fifty-five acts of kindness a day seems a little more manageable. Let’s do the math:

  • 55 Acts a Day

  • 2.29 acts an Hour (Well, that’s not fair, since we sleep at least 8 hours a day).

  • 4.58 acts an Hour (if we are actively being kind 12 hours a day. That’s doable).

  • 0.07 acts a Minute (Okay, that’s a bit extreme but I can’t help the math geek in me).

Okay, so 4.58 acts an hour. For good measure, we will round that to 5. So that’s one act every ~8 minutes. That seems doable.

The Power of Focusing on the Incremental

Bob (and Bogart’s) goal is a huge undertaking. Some would say it’s even impossible but by focusing on the incremental, Bob has broken down his goal into a manageable chucks — just like an endurance athlete breaks down a race into manageable parts and an endurance leader inspires their supporters to fulfill their goals, incrementally.

Really, One Million Acts of Kindness

Yeah, really. I get the sense that Bob will not stop until his message of kindness is spread throughout the world. That’s true dedication and commitment.

He may never achieve his goals but he certainly will change a lot of peoples attitudes and behaviors. Even if he reaches a small percentage of humanity, he has made a huge impact.

Everyday, people like Bob endure through the struggles of life and find meaning in simple acts of kindness. These are the true endurance leaders. They don’t stop no matter the setbacks, challenges or obstacles.

Good luck Bob (and Bogart). You have inspired me to at least give it a shot.

Harold and I writing this post. Any misspellings is all him!

Taming Dangerous Minds: An Interview with Ashley Plushnik

When I was 20, I hardly wanted to change the world. If memory serves me correctly, I was too busy studying, working and partying to care much about anyone else.

Not everyone at 20 had my attitude.

Meet Ashely Plushnik, a 20 year old education major who is a literacy tutor for inner city kids. To say that Ashely is changing the world might be an overstatement but she is certainly changing the world for her kids.

A native of Battle Creek, Michigan, Ashely could have pursued math and science (she attended a well regarded magnet high school for just that) but instead, she chose teaching.

Ashely’s story resonates with me because of my own experience with great teachers.

My younger brother Paul was one of those “troubled” kids who went to special classes because he was a “problem.”

His teachers gave up on him. Everyone told him he would always be behind and never amount to anything — except one.

LouAnne Johnson was a presence. Even though I never met her personally, she used to call our house to check up on Paul regularly.

Her dedication made an impact on my brother and all of her students. She even wrote a book about her experiences. That book turned into a movie. Maybe you have seen it, Dangerous Minds starring Michelle Pfeiffer.

Ashely reminds me of Ms. Johnson — strong willed, caring and not willing to give up — exactly what an endurance leader should be.

I sat down with Ashely to talk with her about how she stays motivated, how she motivates her kids (and others) and why she chooses such a difficult job.

 

Jarie Bolander: What draws you to teaching?

 

Ashley Plushnik: I just like to help kids. I think it stems from my experiences in grammar and middle school where the teachers I had were no help at all. Thankfully, I was self-motivated but the students who struggled just fell behind.

 

JB: Was that your experience in High School as well?

 

AP: Actually, no. I went to a magnet school for math and science and that was totally different. Teachers cared about you and pushed you to be the best you could be. They set high expectations from day one.

It was at the magnet school that I realized success in school had a lot to do with caring teachers.

 

JB: What was the ah ha moment when you knew you wanted to teach?

 

AP: I think it was my first year as a literacy tutor. The first 6 months were total hell. I cried everyday because kids where throwing chairs, being disruptive and not listening too me. I was really discouraged. When you are discouraged, it usually means you are doing something wrong. So I sought out some advice.

It turns out I was just too much of a push over. I did not demand respect or give them boundaries. I cared a lot but not enough to teach them how to be successful. I realized I needed to give them attention, structure, discipline and set some real boundaries.

Once I did that, things turned around. The class focused and started to excel. Now, I learned that those boundaries need to be set early, within the first two weeks, or the year will be a struggle. It’s a struggle to begin with but that makes it more of one.

 

JB: It sounds like these kids are a handful. What’s their background?

 

AP: Most are from the inner city projects. They are in an environment of poverty, drugs and gangs. Most come in with the attitude that I’ll be dead by 18. This coming from a second grader. It’s sad.

They generally come from homes where mom and/or dad have either dropped out or can’t read. So, their expectations are pretty low.

Traditionally, when they come to school, they don’t get the attention they need either. Most people just don’t want to invest in what they think is a losing cause. That’s the saddest thing of all.

All these kids really need is attention and direction. They have so much potential and it’s just squandered.

In fact, the only reason I got this school was because I didn’t know any better. My fellow literacy tutors did some research and picked the private schools and left me with the inner city schools. It actually turned out to be a blessing.

 

JB: Doesn’t sound like a blessing to me. How do you motivate someone that comes from such a bleak environment?

 

AP: First, you set high expectations from day one. You earn their trust. You hangout in their neighborhood. You get to know their parents. You show you care.

It’s actually pretty simple but takes a lot of patience and hard work.

The kids respond to leading by example. If you say be on time and then your late, they will be late. If you say I’ll show up to your event and then don’t show up, that sends the wrong message.

You want them to do as you do and always keep it positive.

 

JB: So, lead by example and be positive but how do you stay positive and keep them positive with all the struggles they are going through?

 

AP: Being positive is just a mindset. When a bad situation takes place, you just turn it around and ask for the positive outcome. If someone does not know the answer, you ask someone else. Then you go back and ask “So, what’s the answer?” Then, they can answer.

Even situations where a kid does something bad can be positive. For example, some kid hits another kid. You have to explain why being hit is not right by asking if they would want to be hit. The answer is always no. So you use that. Turn it around and have them understand that hitting is bad because they don’t want to be hit.

Then, they must ask for forgiveness from the person they hit. Not from me, mind you. I was not harmed but the other kid was. That way, they see that you can deal with a difficult situation in a positive way.

Leading by example is another one. It’s just not me that leads. The kids lead by teaching others. Some just naturally want to help. So you use that to your advantage. You tell them to help other children, even in other grades. It shows them that they can have an impact and that others want and need their help.

 

JB: There must be problem kids that just make you crazy.

 

AP: Of course, there are challenging kids but you have to adjust your approach to what the kid needs. It’s like individual intervention for 20 students.

I do put them in groups but in the end, you need to know what makes each kid tick and how to motivate them.

 

JB: Have you been able to make an impact on these kids?

 

AP: Certainly. Their reading scores have improved dramatically as well as their attitudes. Some come in below their grade level and most leave 1-2 grade levels above. It’s amazing watching them finally get it.

 

JB: That’s impressive. For the rest of us, who don’t have to deal with these challenging circumstances, how would you recommend we take on challenges? It’s pretty clear that, in this environment, you have overcome a tremendous amount.

 

AP: I just try and stop making excuses and just do something. Put the whining on hold and deal with what you have. You will make mistakes. Lots and lots of them but that’s fine. Make them and move on.

It’s important to adjust, adapt and overcome the obstacles in your way. If you let it get to you, you will be defeated.

Look for the little wins. Those will inspire you to keep doing.

When you get discouraged, ask for help. You will be amazed as to who will help you out.

 

JB: Ashley, thanks so much for telling your story. It’s great to see someone making a difference.

 

AP: Your welcome.

 

Ashley is a true endurance leader. She takes on challenges and overcomes them by adapting to her environment, staying positive and not giving up.

We can learn a lot from Ashley and the teachers like her. It’s inspiring to see people make an impact and stay positive in the process.

 

Take-a-way: All it take is a little bit of dedication and hard work to achieve your goals and inspire others to achieve theirs.

52 Marathons in 52 Weeks: On the Road With Endorphin Dude

Myself (left) and Endorphin Dude

Tony Nguyen is one of my heros. He embodies the essence of an endurance leader. His alter ego, Endorphin Dude, is by far the most powerful super hero of them all. His super power – endurance. His mission – saving the world, one couch potato at a time. Even though Tony is not a traditional corporate leader, he embodies all the traits of an endurance leader. He inspires people to join his causes, he’s creative in his approach, he leverages technology to communicate and monitor his progress, he has maneuvered around obstacles, stayed positive in the face of setbacks, goes at a pace that suits his skills and has built momentum largely by having a clear goal. I sat down with Tony, mid way through his Titanium Challenge (52 marathons in 52 weeks), to get a sense of what it’s like to run all those marathons, raise money for charity and to finally figure out, who makes those great capes.

 

Jarie Bolander: Thanks Tony for sitting down with me to chat about your amazing journey into endurance athletics and how that makes you a great role model as an endurance leader.

 

Tony Nguyen: Not a problem. Anything I can do to get the word out about being healthy and my journey back from the brink of illness.

 

JB: How did you get into endurance athletics?

 

TN: Kinda by accident. I had a wake up call. It really started back in 2001 when I was first diagnosed with type-2 diabetes. However, I was in denial. I didn’t take care of myself and before I knew it, was gaining more and more weight and seeing my doctor prescribe more and more meds. In my mind, I thought, “I can eat whatever I want because these pills and insulin shots will keep me in check.” Talk about denial!  My health continued to go downhill, and one afternoon in 2009, I came home from work and thought I was having a heart attack. Thankfully, it was just stress that lead to this heart attack scare.  This was my wake up call.

 

 

JB: So, what did you end up doing?

 

TN: I’ll never forget that look in my dog’s eyes as she barked at me when I was on the floor.  My dog Chewbacca, a daschund chihuahua mix also known as “The Chiweenie”, saw that I was in danger, and it really felt like she was growling in order to get help. After things settled, I took The Chiweenie for a walk around the block.  That short walk turned into two blocks the next day and before I knew it, I was walking 4 to 5 miles. The mileage started to pile up and next thing I know, I’m taking multi-mile urban hikes all around San Francisco with my dog.

 

JB: How did you transition from walking to running?

 

TN: I attended the 2009 San Francisco Marathon to cheer on some friends running the race. It was awe inspiring to see all the people running and cheering everyone on. I wanted to be part of that and wanted to get healthier.

 

JB: Did you get a coach?

 

TN: Yeah, I did. My college buddy Charles, a life long runner, offered to be my coach. The first couple of runs really sucked. I couldn’t run more than a mile. It was really discouraging but Charles stuck with me and I found ways to motivate myself.

 

JB: What were those motivational techniques?

 

TN: I turned training into something like a video game. I would make each mile an adventure. I would see how far I could get before sundown or to the next level of the game. All of these things made the hurt go away and the experience fun, which helped since I could not take Chewbacca running with me.

During a race, I would just focus on the mile markers. Each one is like an energy pill — kinda like Pacman. I feel like Pacman on the course, gobbling up wafers, eating up all the fruit and nabbing that energy pill at every mile marker. Aside from that, I always think about not being fat again. No more Fat Tony. Ever. That’s what gets me through it

 

JB: Okay, so, how did your first marathon go?

 

TN: Well, the first one I did was the 2010 San Francisco Marathon. But before that, I ran a bunch of half marathons to get tuned up. That’s where Endorphin Dude came about.

 

JB: What do you mean by that?

 

TN: One of the half marathons I ran was on Halloween and I needed a costume. So, I decided to put on a cape, which actually was a beach towel that was more fashionable than functional. During that Halloween run, I started to feel “runners” high and that switched something within me. It was such an exhilarating experience that I wanted to feel more.

 

JB: So the towel was the first race as Endorphin Dude. Is that when you picked the name?

 

TN: No. I would show up to all these races and people would say, “hey there’s the cape guy. I didn’t like that, so I had custom head bands made with my moniker on it and, with the cape, became Endorphin Dude. It also helps that “ENDORPHIN DUDE” is printed in bold letters across my chest. Nobody calls me Cape Guy anymore.

 

JB: Do you still wear the towel as a cape?

 

TN: Not any more. It’s actually a kinda funny story. I have a sponsor that makes custom capes for me. Image that! The fat kid who was always picked last in PE is a sponsored endurance athlete. I laugh every time I think about it.

All of my capes are made by http://www.powercapes.com“>Power Capes. The unique thing about my capes is that they are children’s size. Adult capes are hard to run in and I would end up tripping over them. Oh, I did have a utility belt but it was really hard to run it.

 

JB: So, why do you think Endorphin Dude resonates with so many people?

 

TN: I think it has to do with me having fun and showing that running can be more than just pain and suffering. Runners are really wonderful people and I feed off that great energy. I have never met an evil runner. Everyone has been so supportive and always smiling when I run by.

I think the other thing is that people like the fact that I do my own thing. I’m not going to qualify the Boston Marathon any time in the near future or anything like that but I do finish and if I can finish, anyone can.

 

JB: Getting back to your 1st Marathon, how did that go?

 

TN: It was a life changing experience in more ways than one. I was so nervous that I did not sleep two days before. I was really freaking out. My coach was really supportive. He gave me the best advice. He said, “It’s OK to walk. Just put one foot in front of the other and keep on going”. That really calmed me down because I did not want to fail.

On race day, I felt good. I started out strong. I felt great and was having a blast.

By mile 14, I started to cramp. I even fell. It was kinda discouraging but I kept thinking that I need to save the world. Just one more mile. Get one more jolt of energy. Make it to the next mile marker. I can do it. That motivated me to continue on.

What was truly transformational was passing the 280 freeway exit onto Mariposa Street. That was the exit I would take to work everyday. The exit that Fat Tony, overweight and with diabetes, would drive down everyday. Now, I was running past it. No more Fat Tony. Fat Tony was officially dead.

 

JB: That’s a powerful story. What mile was that at?

 

TN: Like mile 22 or 23. I don’t know exactly but I can tell you that I will never forget the feeling of liberation and accomplishment that I made it that far. It was really emotional.

 

JB: It sounds emotional but it also sounds like a fond memory of a new you. Was that the point where you knew that running and Endorphin Dude would be something special.

TN: Yeah, that was the moment I committed to saving the world, one couch potato at a time.

 

JB: So, tell me about this Titanium Challenge. Sounds kinda crazy?

 

TN: The Titanium challenge is 52 marathons in 52 weeks. It came about for two reasons. One, my running club, http://www.marathonmaniacs.com/“>Marathon Maniacs has a Titanium level, which is the highest level you can get and two, I wanted to raise money for Chewbacca’s furry friends.

 

JB: Chewbacca’s friends. Who are Chewbacca’s friends?

 

TN: Chewbacca, my dog, is a rescue. I’m raising money to help all rescue dogs. Specifically, I’m raising money for the Peninsula Humane Society. You can see my http://www.endorphindude.com/“>blog for more details. Anyway, wanted to help animals in need. Chewy literally saved my life and if I can encourage people to adopt a rescue dog and walk, I’ve done my job. Remember, I’m saving the world, one couch potato at a time.

 

JB: Sounds like a great cause but 52 marathons, in 52 weeks, is pretty intense. How will you get that done?

 

TN: Well, you have to remember, that all I have to do is finish. No personal records or anything like that. I just have to finish. That means, I can take my time and set my pace. I do have to make the cutoff time but sometimes, the race directors let me start early, especially if it’s a longer endurance event, like a 50k or 24 hour race.

I can also double up on races. I did that a couple of months ago. It worked out pretty well.

 

JB: So, how many have you done so far?

 

TN: A total of 36. I’m a little behind but confident I can make it up. I have been hurt for a couple of weeks and that has put a hamper on my running. It’s a little frustrating but I know that I can do it. Chewbacca furry friends are depending on me.

 

JB: Truly inspiring. You are a true inspiration.

 

TN: Thanks. I’m always happy to talk about my journey and how being healthy is now a way of life for me. It’s funny, I remember way back when I crossed the finish line of my first half marathon — I was on cloud 9, 10, 11, 12, and 13.1.  I really do feel like I’ve added 13.1 years to my life when I run these halves, but I gotta tell you, when I run the full marathon, I am immortal!

 

Tony is a true endurance leader. He has overcome his limitations, pushed past obstacles, endured pain and setbacks to achieve his goals. He has inspired others to follow his lead and get healthy. What’s great about Tony is that he has a great attitude. He sets his own pace and motivates himself by the little wins. He’s practical in that he knows his limitations but he also pushes himself to be better.

If you take away one thing from Endorphin Dude it’s this: You are competing against yourself. The resistance and negativity are within you and the first step is to recognize that so you can defeat it.

7 Leadership Mantras Honed By Endurance Athletes

Staying leadership sharp takes dedication, tenacity, endurance and desire. These are the same traits that endurance athletes use to hone their athletic and mental skills every day.

That’s way endurance athletes can teach you valuable lessons on how to lead. Whether you are a community leader, entrepreneur, freelancers, or mid-level manger, endurance athletes demonstrate that by following a few simple mantras, anyone, at any skill level, can successfully finish the race.

By Enduring, We Conquer

Endurance athletes are unique. So unique that they have inadvertently unlocked the secrets to being an effective leader. The endurance athlete leads everyday, no matter rain or shine, by practicing and competing. They get the job done by training hard and finishing the race.

Endurance leaders take the endurance athletes example and expand it to all sorts of leadership situations. Whether you lead a single person web startup, are a freelancer, an entrepreneur, the president of your local neighborhood association or manager of a small team, endurance leadership can help you sustainability create value.

Endurance athletes experience a tremendous amount while competing. They can get cramps, fall down, get sunburned, dehydrated, hit the wall or have mechanical and even mental breakdowns. All of these situations have analogies to what a leader goes through everyday. Now, you can benefit from their blood, sweat, tears and broken toe nails.

Mantra #1: You Are The Company You Keep

Endurance athletes share a common bond. They know what it’s like to be injured or not feel like training. They get the hardships, the doubts and the drive to finish. It can also be a lonely experience and that’s why a lot of people join teams. Team In Training is just such a team.

Team In Training raises money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. It’s a wonderful program that takes beginners and seasoned athletes on an exploration into endurance athletics while raising money for a wonderful cause (over $1 billion raised so far).

The great thing about TNT is the people. Some of these people are cancer survivors who are called Honorees — whose ordeals battling and conquering cancer are an inspiration.

There is nothing more motivating than seeing an honoree show up to practice, sometimes in the middle of chemotherapy, to tell you directly that every mile you run, every yard you swim and every kilometer you bike, keeps them motivated to get better. After hearing survival story after survival story, your own pain just seems so miniscule.

Endurance athletes know that people are important. So important that the company they keep not only outwardly represents them but also influences their decisions and attitudes. Surround yourself with great people and your are bound to become great.

Endurance leaders understand the power of people as well because it’s the people that believe in the vision, execute the plans and follow-up to ensure tasks are getting done.

 

Takeaway: Surround yourself with top quality, motivated and enthusiastic people.

 

Mantra #2: Embrace New Things

Endurance athletes use creativity to mix up their training routine and solve nagging problems. Cliff Bar is a great example of a creative solution to a nagging problem — fuel for your endurance event in a compact, tasty and easy to digest form.

It’s really hard to eat and exercise. Before Cliff bar, you would have to eat these nasty meal replacement bars that got it all wrong. Way too much fat, hard to digest (meal replacement bars usually fill you up) and tasted awful — cardboard awful. Thankfully, Cliff Bar saved the day and you can now fuel yourself and not gag while doing so.

Creativity is a skill most leaders don’t flex or even consider important. Everyday, a leader needs to be creative in how they attack a problem, strike a deal or motivate the people around them. Creativity takes many forms and the endurance leader uses creativity to zig and zag around the competition, close an important deal or just get through a tough meeting.

Harnessing your creativity can be as simple as understanding that you cannot do all the work, outsourcing your next project or free thinking about non-traditional solutions to your problems — like easy to digest and tasty fuel.

 

Takeaway: Look for solutions in the least expected places and embrace new ways of solving problems.

 

Mantra #3: Technology Along Does Not Win Races

Technology is a wonderful thing but it cannot be used in a vacuum. An endurance leader embraces technology but does not fear it nor do they get seduced by the latest trend.

Triathletes make similar decisions on the choice of their equipment. They may buy the most expensive carbon-fiber, ultra light weight road bike but in the end, they still have to peddle it.

Most of us cringe when we think about the pace of innovation and the astronomical amount of choices to host your blog, stay connected with friends, play a video game or do your companies books. The best technology is never a strategic advantage unless you know how to deploy and use it.

 

Takeaway: Learn about new technology before buying or deploying it

 

Mantra #4: Seize The Opportunity In Front of You

When competing, endurance athletes have opportunity after opportunity to make a move or seize a small advantage. It might be in your transition from the swim to the run or maybe giving that extra little bit on the big hill assent.

Most of us wait for the perfect moment to grasp the brass ring. Until that happens, we make excuses about how every obstacle is in our way. Endurance leaders recognize those obstacles as the opportunity. By solving the problems in front of you, more opportunities are created.

Seizing these opportunities gives you practice in making decisions and getting things done. These small opportunities prepare you for the big opportunities.

 

Takeaway: Solve the problem in front of you

 

Mantra #5: Sometimes, Even Tough Guys Walk

Escape from the Rock is the down home version of televised, Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon. I say down home because most outsiders don’t know about it and it’s a low key production. Part of both races is the wicked sand ladder. To say that the sand ladder is an endurance test, is like saying the SAT’s are just a pop quiz. It’s a grueling climb up the side of a sandy hill and they even have wood planks to assist you. Yeah, it’s that bad.

The sand ladder humbles all who climb it. It’s not that you don’t want to charge up the thing — you can’t. It’s too steep, slippery from the sand and uneven. At the sand ladder, everyone is equal — even the toughest guy.

At some point, all of us have felt beaten down, been injured or just failed. It’s just part of existing. The endurance leader understands that setbacks will happen and adjusts to either slow down or play another day. For the endurance athlete, setbacks happen due to injury or just plain fatigue. Some days, you just can’t hit your personal best, ride in the rain or even do that open water swim.

Endurance leaders embrace the journey and know when it’s time to slow down or cancel a project they still have a positive attitude. Quitting can be a demeaning and depressing state but sometimes necessary. As most endurance athletes know, it’s better to stop than risk injury.

 

Takeaway: Don’t be afraid to adjust your strategy or stop going down the wrong path.

 

Mantra #6: Take Your Time But Hurry Up

Most new endurance athletes make the same basic mistakes — overtraining and setting too aggressive a pace. These two mistakes end up making them frustrated and not able to perform well on race day. Just like I did on my 1st marathon — over trained and set a way too wicked a pace. Most endurance athletes come to understand that pace is important because they must maximize their training benefit without being exhausted for race day.

For leaders, pace sets the tone and tenor of your leadership. Too often, leaders race out ahead and end up burning the team out or going down the wrong path. A wise leader understands that you need to take your time to get things done right but hurry up so you can still be relevant.

Leaders can fall into this same trap by not understanding how to push themselves and their team for maximum productivity and efficiency. The myth about the more hours you work, the more successful you will will become, is misguided. It’s not about how much you work but what you get done when you work that matters.

 

Takeaway: Set a sustainable pace that you and your team can handle.

 

Mantra #7: Just Keep Moving

My good friend Tony (Endorphin Dude) has a great mantra — just keep moving. He takes on marathon after marathon with the attitude that all he has to do is finish. No personal bests. No world records — just finish. That’s a powerful motivator since most of us want to be the best, finish first and beat the competition.

All of those ideas are noble things to aspire to but sometimes, you just have to keep moving to push through a barrier or blockage. Like when Tony fell at his 1st marathon. He walked it off, calmed himself and kept moving.

Even tough seasoned athletes find that exhaustion makes them weak. It can sap your motivation and momentum. Combating this exhaustion takes the realization that if you just keep moving, even at a slower pace, you can continue on and breakthrough tough times.

All too often, leaders give up when they feel frustrated or encounter an obstacle. When you do this, you lose the momentum you worked so hard to build up. When you keep moving, even a little bit, you keep that momentum going.

Momentum is a powerful force that once built, can take you far. Just think of the cyclist that finally cresses the hill and can now glide down the back side. That built up momentum allows them to rest, regroup and be ready to attack the next hill or challenge.

 

Takeaway: Even if you hit a barrier, just keep pushing until you can’t push anymore.

 

The First Step is to Start

Each one of these secrets is part of the endurance athletes mosaic of skills, attitudes and traits that motivate them to get up every morning to train and compete. Now, you can apply these same mosaic of skills to your organization or business.

Endurance leaders know how to push through adversity while still maintaining their focus on what’s important. They build value at a sustainable pace by harnessing the resources around them in creative and innovative ways.

BTW, I did finish my second marathon. No bonking. No walking. I even sprinted at the end. It felt great. I finally conquered the beast.