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Secrets of Long Distance Runners: How to Make It In a Competitive World

Running, for me, began in 1999. The sour memories of high school gym class were still fresh in my mind when I took up the activity. And to this day, anytime I walk into a gym I’m reminded of how much I disliked P.E. (read: painful experience).

Running seemed like an easy alternative. It was free, after all. And my love of the outdoors made it a natural fit. But I was quickly humbled. As easy as it was to start running, continuing to run proved more challenging.

I could barely run a quarter mile without my chest heaving and my legs throbbing in agony. Rather than duck out, however, I stuck with it. In roughly two weeks’ time I began to get acclimated to the sensation. My legs grew stronger; my endurance picked up.

Now I can run over 10 miles at a stretch, and the feeling it gives me can only be described as exhilarating.

I soon learned an important lesson from my newfound passion: Business, like running, requires making significant changes that are at once painful, daunting, and tiresome – yet hopefully, also rewarding.

No Pain, No Gain

No one is immune to the everyday roadblocks that keep us from reaching our potential. Whether it’s assuming people know more than they do, rather than asking them and listening, or spending too much time researching and planning and not enough time acting, the feelings are the same.

We feel pain.

But rolling with that pain could turn out to be the best response. One of the most difficult patterns for leaders to break is simply being able to let go. Control can be relinquished and responsibilities shared. Fires aren’t fought alone.

At first, overcoming this mental block is effortful. It requires a concerted effort and an understanding that not everything needs your immediate attention, or maybe even attention at all.

The ones who succeed at overcoming their block are the ones who persevere – who can accept the challenge as long-term, systematic, and incremental. And they are the ones who, at the finish line, enjoy less stress, greater profits, and flourishing companies.

Change Your Focus

Most people don’t achieve the success they want because they lose sight of their ultimate goal. But sometimes it also helps to have concrete intermediary goals.

I didn’t begin running to lose weight. I did it to stay active. But “active” is an amorphous goal, so I focused on lengthening my runs. This was concrete, something I could measure.

In the end tenacity, not utility, became my motivation.

Changing your perspective on your business can empower you. It can remind you that you are the engine that drives your staff’s improvement. You are a facilitator, not some receptacle for stress.

The earlier you accept that fact – that pain will be present, and you must acknowledge it – the rewards have no choice but to outpace the setbacks, and you’ll finally be able to bask in the success you worked so hard to achieve.

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About the author, David Shriner-Cahn

David is the podcast host and community builder behind Smashing the Plateau, an online platform offering resources, accountability, and camaraderie to high-performing professionals who are making the leap from the corporate career track to entrepreneurial business ownership.

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