Incessant Focus on What I Want

PU052714_FlatironsYesterday I ran with my running coach, Joe Grant and my client, Scott Richards to the top of Green Mountain above the Flatirons in Boulder.  It was an epic run, with an early start, golden hues on the majestic rocks above us, and a scene straight out of Monty Python as an angry grouse chased us up the trail, pecking at my legs.  I finished the run after 2700′ of climbing… feeling elated, and was so excited for our adventure through the San Juans in July and my Leadville 100 run in August.

Then this afternoon I went out for a 3 hour run to back up yesterday’s strong effort.  It sucked.  I shuffled along, legs aching, body sore, and my mind wandering.  After the three hours were up, I hobbled home asking myself “How on earth am I going to run 100 miles when my legs are screaming after 14 or so today?”  This evening as I’ve been typing up my pacing plan for the race I’ve been hit with the stark reality that 100 miles will be a long trip no matter how you look at it.  My doubts have been creeping in, causing a twinge of early race anxiety.

And then I shifted my attention.  In two recent conversations with new clients that are contemplating leaving their jobs and starting their own companies, they’ve shared how they are paralyzed by fear.  Fear of the unknown, of looking silly for chasing their dream, fear of failure.

My counsel to each of them, and countless other clients, is to recognize the doubts and the fears.  Know that’s just the inner critic encouraging you to play small.  Acknowledge it, say “No thank you, I don’t need your input now” and re-focus on what you do want.  What you really want.

I’ve shared how I enjoy rock climbing.  Not because I am an adrenaline junkie – in fact, I’m scared of heights.  But rather because it is the perfect example of how if you focus on what you don’t want (the hundreds of feet of air under your feet, missing a hold and plummeting down), you are far more likely to have just that happen.  However, when I’m up on a rock, my focus narrows down to only one thing – the next move.  There is no place for any other concerns in life.  My focus becomes so intense on making the next move successfully and purposefully.

And so it is with anything in life.  When we get laser focused on what we do want (in life, our relationships, our careers, etc.) then we increase our likelihood of achieving it exponentially.

So how am I doing that with my upcoming 100 miler?  Focusing on the next workout.  On eating well with each meal to fuel my body.  On getting ample rest to rebuild torn muscles and recover quickly.  And rather than focusing on how bad it will hurt at miles 60, 70 and beyond (heck, who am I kidding?  miles 30, 40, 50…), I am instead focusing on how I want to feel – adventurous, grateful for the opportunity to even be a part of this grand race.  And excited for my time with friends and family who will be there to support me.

So I’ll share the simple question I’ve been asking myself as I reframe my upcoming challenge:  “What is it that you really want to happen?”   And “What specifically must you do right now to move toward the vision of what you want?”

For a great read on mindset and overcoming your inner critic, check out “Positive Intelligence” by Shirzad Chamine.  It’s destined to be a classic.