Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Amazing Lessons Learned During My First Triathlon

Recently I made the choice – yep, a choice – to train for and participate in my first ever triathlon. The race consisted of three efforts right in a row - a 7-mile kayak paddle down the Conemaugh river, a 14-mile bike ride (some of which was up and down steep dirt trails) and a 3.1-mile run. WHY you might ask? Not really sure except that I have always wanted to attempt something this epic to push myself beyond my present capabilities. To see if I could do it! To strive to be amazing…

So while on training rides with my training partners Dave, Dale and Susan, I was reminded that our lives are really so much like a long bike ride. Do you see that, too? Just as on the road or trail, our lives have up hill climbs, down hill glides and long stretches of flat road. How we choose to handle these three types of “roads” on our life’s journey is really what makes all the difference in the world. But for me, no matter what the road looks like, I always tell myself to just keep pedaling.

Most of your life is spent living each day one day at a time without too much fanfare or challenge. These are the kind of days that when someone asks you how your day went, you tell them it was GOOD. These are your flat road days, in bicycling terms. You pedal just fast enough to stay moving and to keep from falling over. Don’t want to be like Artie Johnson on the tricycle from the show Laugh In (dear God, how old do you have to be to remember that!?!). Pedaling fast enough to stay aloft keeps moving you forward, allows you to reach new places and keeps you moving along the path to your goals. On these days, just make sure you keep pedaling. Coasting is your enemy. Coasting makes you slow down on a flat road. Coasting makes it harder to start pedaling again, to start working on your goals again. When you cease pedaling, stopping becomes a possible option. So don’t coast – ever! Just keep pedaling.

On great days, things are going your way and life feels a little easier. You hit every green light, you found everything on sale, you got a promotion, and your presentation to the big boss went off fantastically. Woohoo! What a great day! So how about you just coast down that hill that day and take it easy. Well, that’s one option. But coasting won’t build muscle or stamina or drive in your mind and your heart. Coasting won’t make you stronger; it will only tend to make you feel better for a short while. As crazy as it sounds, you need to pedal hard on these great days even though you are going down hill. If you pedal going down hill, you will separate yourself from the pack and make it increasingly harder for them to catch you. Can you think of one or two ways you could just keep pedaling on the days or times that things are just going great for you? Ya just gotta keep pedaling.

Lastly, you have your up hill days. You are late for work, behind on a project, a supplier misses a shipment, car breaks down, budget gets cut – you can imagine what these days feel like, right? Going up hill sucks and it really takes it out of you. But the up hill days and up hill sections of the road are the times that make us stronger, more confident and ready to take on more. When you perform well on the up hill days, this is also when you can break away from the pack. Pedaling up hill requires you to dig down deep, often times deeper than you thought you were capable. Its hard, you sweat, you’re tired. But man, does it feel good when you reach the top, especially when you reach the top ahead of everyone else. Doesn’t it feel good for you? That’s when you throw your arms in the air in victory like Lance Armstrong. You have won! And you won because you just kept pedaling hard.

You have control over more things in your life than you give yourself credit for. Choosing your attitude each and every day is critical to success. And selecting an attitude that inspires you to just keep pedaling – no matter what – makes you pull away from the pack. And you can’t win if you are mired back in the pack. So I encourage you to just keep pedaling.

So, what is your hill to climb? What do you want to overcome so that you can just keep pedaling? What goals are you ready to make yours and publicly commit to today? I would love to partner with you on this ride to make your journey successful. I will be your drafting partner helping along the whole race. We can make it the Tour de You!

And see here’s the thing, I finished that triathlon at my target time because I just kept paddling, pedaling and running without ever stopping and by using the goal as my motivation. In fact, my pedaling time was in the top 20% of all competitors and overall I finished 42nd out of 93 participants. I know where I can pedal harder next time, and that is the beauty of trying – not only to you achieve great things but you also learn valuable lessons.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

5 Lessons Learned from Mrs. Claus



In last year’s holiday season newsletter, I wrote about the Seven Lessons I Learned From Santa Claus. It highlighted some meaningful ways to live a successful life. And, it was fun!

This year, I am gonna follow the theme but with a twist. I am going to take a look at lessons to be learned from the other North polian … err, North poleite … umm,  North poler… ah, whatever. The other lovable character we know who is always dressed in red … Mrs. Claus.

Trivia question: Anyone know the first name of Mrs. Claus? If you don’t know, I’ll tell ya at the end of the newsletter.

Santa and his team have been bringing Christmas cheer to billions of people every year for a long time. How does he make the whole thing work? And what lessons can we learn from his spousal unit, who has been by his side for hundreds of years?

Well, I think I’ve got part of their magic figured out. At least I think I do…

See, here’s the thing. Sometimes the best lessons in life come from the most unusual of circumstances. And I think we can agree that everything that surrounds the Claus clan is unusual by our mortal standards. Giving yourself permission to explore the true magical takeaways from Santa and the misses could change your life.

So let’s explore five lessons learned from Mrs. Claus at the workshop way up on top of the world.

Being in The Spotlight Isn’t Necessary. Sometimes working behind the scenes is more rewarding and effective than being the main player in the spotlight. Supporting those around you and the goals at hand can be where the real power lies. And it’s one jolly good way to build trust and confidence with all on the team, including the big guy.

Everyone Needs an Accountability Partner. No matter who you are or what your role is in business or in life, you are not successful solely because of yourself. Tiger Woods is surrounded by coaches. The astronauts in the International Space Station have the folks in Houston. And, Archie Bunker had Edith. Mrs. Claus helps Santa stay on schedule, she is in charge of managing the naughty and nice list and she ensures that St. Nick is always looking his Christmas best. He needs her and he wouldn’t be who he is without Mrs. Claus. She keeps him on track and on task.

If the Mrs. Ain’t Happy, Ain’t Nobody Happy. See, legend has it that Mrs. Claus is the factory manager for the elves at the North Pole. And if she is not having a good time and feeling like she makes a difference, there will be many unhappy little folks around the world when they don’t get what was requested of Santa. Mrs. Claus is a great example of what happens when a leader (Santa, in this case) ensures the team knows the plan and the expectations. A leader’s success is built on the backs of those that support them. Treat the team with respect and gratitude, and the results will be amazing.

Joy Comes From Seeing Others Succeed. She is so giving and so supportive and then sooo happy when that fat dude flies away and leaves her to enjoy some solitude for a night. Ya know, that incessant Ho Ho Ho’ing’s gotta get old after a while. Her job is done for another year and she can smile because she knows her efforts directly aided in making Santa a raving success. That feels good and in my experience it lasts a long time. Helping others to achieve their goals and your collective aspirations sometimes should be reward enough.

Ladies Dig Short Stocky Guys with Long Beards. It’s a great look if I say so myself. Not everyone can pull it off, but dang it’s a good look. Not everyone could be Mrs. Claus and the lesson to be learned here is that there is a mate out there for everyone. Whether it’s a soul mate, a business partner or a coach, staying open minded and not settling is a recipe for success. And, by the way, for those who haven’t seen me in a while, I am a short stocky guy with a long beard. LOL!!

I’ve strapped on the Santa suit dozens of times in my life for the enjoyment of thousands of children. Every time it is a special experience. And guess what, I wouldn’t be so jolly without my Mrs. Claus by my side.

Look around you this holiday season and notice the lessons to be learned. Embrace the true magic and miracles of Christmas and honor them in your life. And share those newfound joys with anyone who will listen. Santa is watching, so make him proud.

So, do you know the first name of Mrs. Claus yet? Well, if not, here it is for you. Her official full name is Mrs. Jessica Mary Claus. See, ya learned somethin’ new today. Ole Jessie Claus!

Your life becomes amazing when you do. And your life is happening right here, right now. Make it amazing – I dare ya!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

GOOOOAAAALLLL!!


Goal setting – what a powerful process! The process itself lets you decide where you want to go in your life. Goal setting requires clarity and motivation. 

When most people talk about clarity, they describe it as if they were writing their goals down on paper. But when you just write your goals down, you are missing an important factor – motivation! Having clarity in your goals and in your life gives you direction. Think about how that will change your life!

When setting goals with clarity, you not only have to know what you want to do but why you want to do it. Knowing why is often the most important part of the equation! And goals don’t need to be achieved in one big step.  Goal progression is often how we get there. 

So, I’d like you to ask yourself two things: What does this goal mean to me and how is it going to change my life? As you think of a goal in your mind, ask yourself these two questions. Clarity in your goals and in your life gives you direction. It allows you to move forward 100% towards your goals and towards leading the life you want to live. And clarity will motivate you – does that make sense to you?

But, how do you motivate yourself? When no one else can hear you, what do you say to yourself? What messages do you give yourself that no one else can hear? Are they positive, or are they negative? Only you will know. If they are negative, STOP! Make them positive.

Your unconscious mind listens intently to your internal dialogue. Is that leading you towards your goals? Is what you say to yourself something you would share with another person? Would you be motivating them if you told them the same things you’ve told yourself? You should be motivating yourself the way you would motivate another person.

Right now, define your goals. Gain your clarity. Choose a direction and lead that life you want to live. Direct yourself towards your goals. 

Your life is happening right now. Why not make it amazing. I dare ya!

Thanks and until next time, go ahead and Dare to be Amazing!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

But I Don't Wanna Grow Up


Do you remember when you were a kid and you thought you could do anything? I do. When I was a kid I wanted to be a pilot, an astronaut and a paramedic. And I was certain I was capable of being any or all of them. Why wouldn’t I be?

Kids dream big because they can, because they have never been introduced to Doctor Failure. Young people truly believe they can be and achieve anything in the world.

Wouldn’t it be great if everyone could be like that his or her entire life? Now that would be amazing.

Somehow adults too often lose their ability to dream (big or small) – it’s too risky! Failure sucks and who wants to be labeled a loser? Shooting for the stars is for daredevils and they can have it.

But see, here’s the thing. There are two ways to view this topic. It’s a battle of being critical versus being curious. You can either find every reason why you shouldn’t try something new or take a risk. Or you can be curious about what it would take and how it would feel to accomplish something way cool. It’s a choice … and the amazing thing is that it is your choice. Yep, your choice.

Goals and desires come in all shapes and sizes. As a society we tend to only celebrate the great and ginormous achievements. That’s not OK with me. Every achievement, if it is meaningful to you, must be celebrated. You gotta celebrate! Revel in how it feels and let everyone know!

Like Francesca Battistelli sings in her hit, “It’s your life … whatcha gonna do? The world is watching you. Everyday, the choices you make say what you are and who your heart beats for. 
This is your opportunity to let your life be one that lights the way … to live the way that you believe.”

Want proof? Think of the person that you know that is the happiest person you have ever met. Guess what? They continue to dream every day and look for opportunities to celebrate, even the smallest of things. See what I mean?

You don’t have to be a special athlete or anything to be amazing. Write a book or a letter to the editor! Call an old friend! Ask someone out on a date! Open that bottle of wine you have been saving “for a special occasion.” Go to Disney World. Learn to ballroom dance. Sign up for an IMPROV course. Take a pottery class. Rent a canoe for a day at Moraine State Park and paddle til ya puke! OK, maybe not until you puke, but you know what I mean. PEOPLE, JUST GET SOME MOTION STARTED!

So what opportunities will you go after? And just as important, why?

When you cultivate an attitude of curiosity, doors open and adventures begin; questions lead to new possibilities. It’s really very cool …

So, here is your homework. Today – yes, today – take 5 minutes and write down one goal. One goal that is intentional, purposeful and meaningful. A goal that once you achieve it, not only will it be amazing but it will also make you feel amazing! Do it – write it down and then commit to it. Hang in on your fridge or your bathroom mirror as a reminder. And … share it with anyone who will listen.

Because, guess what? YOU ARE AMAZING!

Your life is happening right here, right now. Make it amazing – I dare ya!

Monday, September 9, 2013

If You’re Not Sweating, You’re Not Getting


“Hi sweetie, did you have a good workout”

“Umm, ya know, I’m not really sure …”

“Whadya mean you’re not sure?”

“Well, I worked out for over an hour but I hardly broke a sweat.”

“Guess what, pal? You just wasted an hour … sucks to be you!”


Leadership and business and life are a lot like a fitness workout. The best results are achieved when you really test your limits and from pushing yourself (or your team) to take one more step towards AMAZING.

The treadmill is an incredible metaphor for how you conduct yourself. Belt speed and belt incline control how hard your workout will be on the treadmill. Moderate speed and no incline will whittle away the time, but is unlikely to make you stronger or faster. Crank up the incline and it gets harder. Add some belt speed and a walk turns into a jog or a run.

Oooh, I can smell the sweat already. The sweet aroma of progress and pushing your limits. The nectar of success!!

For me, it’s an incredible high to bask in the glow of having done a workout where I pushed the limits of strength and endurance. I may not have thought that while I was gutting through it, but afterwards – damn that feels good! A wet t-shirt after the workout is a signal of progress.

See, here’s the thing. If you’re not sweating – and I mean dripping, smelly, can’t stand yourself anymore wet – you’re not getting. Not getting ahead…not getting results…and not getting that oh so important motivation to achieve your goals. You’ve got to sweat to move your performance, your strength and your results to the next higher level.

It is hard. It hurts to push. You might be sore for days. But the cool thing is that every time you feel a twinge of pain you know it is the result of pushing hard to become stronger and better. No pain … no gain certainly has a meaning here.

Select the settings on the treadmill that make you comfortable and you are unlikely to sweat. And consequently becoming stronger, faster and more capable is likely out of reach.

Without giving it all you’ve got and sweatin’ it out – well, you’re just doin’ time, man. You are just doin’ time …

You’ve got to sweat to get!

Success in achieving your desired objectives will not come from being comfortable every day. Your limits of performance have to be tested.

So, it is your decision. How bad do you want to get ahead? What would you make possible for yourself or your team if you decided to sweat just a little…or just a lot more?

You are in control of the speed and incline buttons on your own personal treadmills. Reach out and push the buttons my friend. See what’s possible!

What is one thing you can do today…TODAY…to up the speed, increase the incline and seek out the limits of performance for you and/or your team?

What would make you sweat more so you can get more?

Try it – I have every confidence that you will like the results. And, I know you will feel better all day because of it. Commit to pushing yourself a little more each day and you will sweat yourself to success!

I’m going for a run – see you all later. I’m not coming back until I’ve got a mean sweat goin’!

Your life is happening right here, right now. Make it amazing!
  
If you would like to talk about how to create a more impactful business, leadership or life workout for you or your team, gimme a call or drop me an email. Let’s find ways to test the limits of performance together.
  
Thanks, and until next time, go ahead and Dare to be Amazing! What have you got to lose?