Obstacle or Opportunity

Today is Election Day here in the United States. This is not a post about voting, although I sincerely hope you make the effort to go and vote.

Chilean Miner Edison Pena

The subject today is Edison Pena. Edison Pena is one of the Chilean miners who were rescued less than a month ago. I read last night that he was going to run in the New York Marathon on Sunday.

It seems that Edison earned the nickname “the runner” for jogging though one the mine’s tunnels, but he was eventually forced to stop after rocks began to fall along his route. Because of his running in the mine, the New York City Road Runners Club invited him to New York as a spectator for the race; however, he insisted on running in the 26.2-mile marathon.

Certainly, we all can see the obstacles to Edison Pena’s NY Marathon run. Just as we can all see the obstacles in our own lives. I suspect Edison Pena does not see the obstacles, he only sees the opportunity.

What opportunities are you missing because you only see the obstacles?

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How to Stop the Voices

“You’ll never be good at math.”

“You would find a guy if you just wore makeup.”

“You’ll never make friends if you don’t lose weight.”

“Only stupid/lazy/boring/(fill in the blank) people do that.”

Sentences like these might sound familiar to you.  They are often said in one form or another by often well meaning parents, teachers, coaches, and mentors.  All they end up doing is becoming the voices you hear that keep you from following your dreams and reaching your goals.

Why do we listen to this external validation?  Mostly because it usually comes from someone we love and respect, so they can’t be wrong.  (This is not true, in this instance at least, they are wrong.)  Also the need for external validation is strong, we care what people think about us.

There are things you can do to break free for the negative validation that is holding you back.

1.)  Learn to recognize when your mind is replaying negative comments and stop them.  Think of something positive that you have accomplished.  You can train your mind to stop replaying that negativity and turn it in to something positive.

2.)  Meditation can be a great way to introduce positive internal validation to your brain.  Repeating positive uplifting statements will cement them in your thinking and you will start to realize that anything is possible.

3.)  Surround yourself with people that are great encouragers, not discouragers.   Having cheerleaders that believe in you will go a long way to erasing the negativity of others.

By turning off the negative comments made by others and believing that you are fully capable of reaching your goals, no matter what they might be, you will find that it is easier to stick to your plan and even exceed your greatest expectations.

“It’s not who you are that holds you back, it’s who you think you’re not.” -Unknown

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Does Faster Make it Better?

No doubt, you know the story of the tortoise and the hare.

tortoiseandhare Just in case you missed childhood, here’s the recap – the forest animals have a race – hare gets so far ahead he takes a nap – tortoise keeps on plugging and by the time the hare awakens, the race has been lost. Great parable about how slow and steady can overcome fast and cocky. However, there is another lesson in this story. It has to do with finishing what you start.

Jenn is a triathlete.

triathlon_swim_bike_run_ovalFor whatever crazy reason this is of great appeal (yes, I am rolling my eyes). What kind of sane person wishes to swim miles, then bike miles followed by running? My first clue of insanity should have been when she hitched up with me, but I digress. The thing is that Jenn is the slowest runner on the planet (possibly, I exaggerate a bit). It may take every bit of the time limit but there will be a finish! A strong finish (last mile at the same pace as the first mile).

As the person who is standing on the side of the road all day waiting I sometime wonder, why not just stop. I have witnessed top athletes drop out of the race because they got a flat, or faced some other obstacle, which could be easily over come. The answer is always, finishing is it’s own reward.

Winning is not always about how quickly you reach your goal. In fact, in life, speed is not what matters most. It is just about reaching the goal. Sure finishing your Masters Degree in your 20’s would be great, but it is just as meaningful in your 30’s or later. Maybe learning another language would be easy when you are six, but you will be bi-lingual if you learn it at 60. Live your life at your pace. Reach for your goals.

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Keeping up with the Jonses

I have a friend, we’ll call her Becky, that participates in triathlons.  She is not young, overly fit or well off enough to afford all the expensive gear that you see at these events.  She will probably never win, or even place, in her age group.  But she doesn’t want to.  She enjoys the training, enjoys the racing and loves the sense of accomplishment she gets from knowing that she has done her best.  She could look around before the start of an event and see all the young hard bodies in the absolute best shape with no body fat.  She could notice all the expensive bikes with their computers and all the extra dodads that everyone has.  She could pay attention to others and get discouraged and maybe even feel inferior and just go home.

It can be so easy to get caught up in what other people are doing or what others have that you are frozen, unable to act, because you are worried that you will be compared to them and their lives.  But, when all is said and done, the only one that you have to compare yourself to is you.

Set your goals, reach for your dreams and don’t let anyone stand in your way.  You can look to others for inspiration, but don’t discount what you are doing because they are doing more.

At the end of the day, when you look in the mirror, if you know you did your best at moving toward your goals then you are a winner.  No matter what anyone else has done.

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The Power of NO

The first truly empowering word a child learns is ‘no’.  It is fun to watch them when they have learned the power of this word. They use it for everything. no no no no no Quickly the cute is gone and adults begin to curb a child’s use of no.

As adults, we are still curbing our use of the word no. Everywhere we look someone wants something from us. Our children, our spouse, our employer, even the dog, everyone wants some little piece of you. More often than not, you want to give, to take care of, and to over achieve.  It is not wrong to want to help, to nurture, to be the best you can be.

However, by saying yes are you are losing yourself to those around you. How often are you are saying yes, but know it is stretching you too thin? Are you doing so much for others that you have no time for you? Then it is time to revert to your terrible twos. Relearn the word no.

The word no can make you a better parent, partner and employee. Focus on what is important and say no to everything else. Your life will be better.

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What Will They Say About You

Unfortunately, we have been talking and thinking about death a lot this past week.  When remembering someone that has died, everyone has their stories and memories about how that person interated with them and touched their lives.

You do have some say in what others will say about you at your funeral.  Even though you won’t be there, it is never too late to begin acting the way you would like to be remembered.  In fact, thinking about who you are and who you want to be can be a great motivator.

Begin by writing a list of your accomplishments and then adding a list of the things you would still like to accomplish before you die.  Don’t hold back. 

Take stock of the person you are and imagine the person you would like to be.   One of the great things about this exercise is the opportunity to be brutally honest with yourself and who you are.  The point is to start where you are and grow.  It will do you no good to embelish or brag about yourself.

Once you have everything written down, you can even write it out as an obituary if you want and keep it in a safe place.  Take it out in six months to reevaluate and make sure you are on the right path.

You do not have to be at the mercy of fate.  You are the author of your own life.  Begin now to create the life you want to be remembered for.

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