If you'd asked me 10 years ago to run a mile, I would have groaned knowing I'd be out of breath before getting off my couch. I wouldn't have had a blog called Pace: Life is a Marathon, and I certainly wouldn't have been able to say I ran and completed four world major marathons. Back then I couldn't see the forest though the trees. I couldn't even see the trees, or my own feet! I was overweight and losing control of everything in my life. When I started running again after years of inactivity, I found that it gave me a great sense of satisfaction. I wasn't fast but I finished. I made every step count.
What got me through this? Endurance. Plain and simple, when you put a relentless focus on something and go the distance, you can and will achieve.
When you want it bad enough, it happens.
The ability to go see the distance, go the distance, and finish the race is the single most important skill in a leader's toolbox today.
As I applied it to my career, there were a lot of times I didn't know "why" things happened. The ability to look at the bigger picture and give things a longer term lens helped me cope through stages in my career when I wasn't sure.
I remember my 2nd night living in Denmark on a short term international assignment. I had just come "home" after 3 hours at the pub with the Brits. The only American and the only female, I was homesick and longed for my bed back home. My husband, Mark, then fiancé would tell me "This is going to make sense one day so just go with it."
And when I do look back, the days were dark, long, cold and it snowed, a lot. I was out of my element, a lot. However, the ability to adapt to the journey and create a path was very hard but rewarding.
Endurance builds character.
Going for the long-term is something that many people and organizations struggle with today. In a world so full of change and disruption it's not easy to stay the course.
In 2012 I set out to run my fourth of six world major marathons in Berlin. I trained and got all the way to Berlin and didn't make it to the start line. Plagued with a foot injury, I held back and watched my best friend skate her way to a finish in the Inline Skating event. My ego was a little bruised, but I was determined to go back home, train smart and get my foot back to normal.
It paid off. In 2013, I returned to Berlin and finished strong.
Endurance keeps you moving forward.
Life and work throw us curveballs. Whether it's an illness, a loss in job, a failed relationship or the myriad of other things that happen, endurance is what keeps us moving forward. And some days, there won't be a song in your heart, but we sing anyway. We don't feel like getting up and moving, but we do. Endurance is what drives us forward.
Five ways to build endurance.
1. Define your goals clearly
2. Be disciplined and follow a routine. In running we call this "training".
3. Pace yourself. This means don't try and run a marathon if you've not run a mile.
4. Adopt an attitude that you can and will succeed.
5. Learn from your experience, and get better.
What ways are you building endurance?