Friday, March 12, 2010

Not My Thing

Every Friday until November 7, 2010 you will find entries from a series written by Iris about her training to run the New York marathon in 2010. It is something she never aspired to do; she has never run a distance of more than two kilometers in her life. In this series she describes her adventures and how she works on her beliefs to transform her challenges and successes into one great experience.

The other day I received an email that contained the following sentence...
I realize that I forgot to mention your taking up running. I haven't been able to relate to this yet, because running is not my thing, but it has been great to see your handling of all your issues around it. Thanks for sharing that!
This sweet comment has kept me thoughtful ever since I read it. I think it has to do with the words "not my thing". It tickles me, because until January, I would have been the first to agree that "running is not my thing", or more generally, any activity that gets your heart rate over 120 and has nothing to do with dancing, is not my thing!

However, over the last two months I have proven to myself that running is my thing! I can enjoy and be passionate about something I always said I hated. And I can deal with set backs without going back to hating it.

Inflamed and Happy About It
Last week I had a great, great running week. On Sunday running home, I pushed myself to go a little faster than before. Three quarters of the way home, this feeling came up just above my ankle. I had never felt it before. It was not really painful, but something was clearly a little irritating. I told myself, "hmmm... maybe an extra rest day between now and my next run."

The next morning though, it was clearly pain.

The weirdest pain in the weirdest place! No idea why it happened, so I did a little research and determined that it was an inflammation due to the unevenness of the road surface. So I have to deal with it. I didn't do a lot of running this week; I only did some biking on a stationary bike. I also didn't do unhappiness around it. After my first surprised reaction, I learned a lot about inflammation and now I’m just eager to go back on the road when the inflammation is gone.

Running as a Tool for Personal Growth
So why do I tell you all this running stuff in the Belief Makers blog, every week, over and over. Because for me, it is not about the running, but instead, the power that we give to our beliefs and how beliefs can make or break what we do. By exploring our beliefs with something real and tangible, we can build endurance and strength in ways previously unknown to us. I am not only talking about our bodies but also about our minds.

For example, let's say that your biggest dream has always been to create your own company, but you also believe creating a company is just "not your thing". You might believe that you don't have the skills, the knowledge, or the attitude to be a leader. Perhaps you believe that you do not have the support you need from the people around you. Maybe you're just scared generally of not having a job.

If this is the case, then I promise you that you'll never create this business you are dreaming about. You are holding yourself back and you don't need anyone or anything else in your way to make it hard or challenging.

Until you make starting a business "your thing", you'll never start. You might even come to hate the idea of starting a business just as I hated the idea of starting to run.

Let's say you get past the starting challenge and you do start your company. You believe you have skills and knowledge and, with the help of others, you have been able to open your own little shop. But then things happen. Customers don't show up as quickly as you would have liked... People whom you thought would support you don't... Maybe someone offers you a job in which you would make much more money than you could ever make in this little business of yours.

What do you do? If you are still holding on to unhappiness fueling beliefs, you probably start to struggle with all the choices you have to make. However, if you have trained your beliefs with strength and endurance training, you will glide through these waters easily and safely. You'll know what you know, you'll know what to do, and you'll know that wherever you end up it will be OK.

It will be OK
I am not talking about unrealistic, pie-in-the-sky, artificial projections where you sit as a king on his thrown and everything in the world goes as you want it. I am talking about standing with two feet solidly on the ground, pursuing the fundamentals of your business in the present moment, and being the boss you want to be.

Maybe your goal is to see your product sold all over the world. Maybe your goal is to simply be a business owner who treats all the employees with respect and provides them the compensation they earn. Maybe you want to want to provide accessible and affordable support to people who otherwise would not be able to get it.

People who stay focused on their original intentions when starting their business can create the business they had in mind and grow it while navigating all the unforeseen challenges that come along the way. Your business can stand tall like a blooming flower in a summer garden as long as you decide that it's all OK.

What's Your Motivation?
Remember that it is easy to be distracted along the way. After running your business for a bit, your original intentions may have changed. Over the years, Mark has worked in many situations where he was brought in as a change agent. In some cases, the companies were heading down the road to closing their doors; in others, they simply wanted to make their business better.

Sometimes the business leaders would openly engage in new ways to approach their businesses. At other times, their actual motivations and intentions would get in the way of their stated intentions and motivations; making the business better was not always the highest priority.

Some people would be motivated by saving face and not want to acknowledge that they'd made mistakes. Others would be motivated by being in control and they wouldn't want to give up the control required to make the business more successful. Sometimes, people were simply motivated by cash and would prefer to sell the business rather than fixing the business.

While many business leaders will say that they want to run a successful company, one in which the employees shout from the rooftops, "come work here, this is the best job ever!", not everyone does.

As you operate your business, it's important to stay in touch with your intentions and motivations. Have they shifted over time? If they have, do you want to reinvigorate your original mission, or do you want to change it? Is everything still OK?

Back to Running
To me, running seems to be a little micro business on its own. Things go well. Things are challenging. I make progress quickly. I encounter challenges that slow me down. But as long as I hold on to my main intention to work towards the marathon in November, while being healthy and while working on my strength and endurance skills, no one and nothing can stop me!

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