3 Vital Keys to Success

Last Friday we traveled to Michigan to enjoy a weekend with some of our dear friends over Labor Day.  One of things on the agenda, along with tackling a do-it-yourselfer house project, boating, swimming and eating bad stuff, was a 5k race that my friend’s oldest daughter ran in.

This race was called the Running with the Cows 5K.  It’s an event hosted by a family who owns a large dairy farm (they milk 1,400 cows 3 times a day…that’s big in my book.  I grew up on a farm where we milked 20…) and who is passionate about sharing their knowledge of dairy farming to help farmers in northern Ugandan produce a quality milk product to improve nutrition and build business.  I love supporting people who have a passion to use their lives to live transcendently and make a difference in this world! 

So anyhow, after we arrived around 8:30 am and I was hanging out waiting for the race to begin, I thought to myself, “You might as well run!  You’re here.  Make the most of it.”  So I did.  And, even though it was ugly, I finished!  

I’m so glad that I decided to run because the process of running the race reminded me of 3 principles that I believe are a vital part of living life well.  Here they are:

  1. Don’t Just watch life, jump in with both feet and live it!  It would have been the easy comfortable thing for me to just hang out, drink coffee and watch the race, but I would have missed out on being part of the race!  I would have missed the chance to support a great cause.  I would have missed the chance to experience the deep satisfaction of finishing something that was difficult, but really worthwhile.  As Vidal Sassoon once said, “The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.”
     
  2. Run your race, not someone else’s.  I noticed that when I kept my eyes facing forward on the course in front of me, I did well.  But when I took my eyes off of my course and began to look at others who were way ahead of me on a distant hill to my left, I became discouraged and a bit overwhelmed with how much of the course that was left.  As former President Teddy Roosevelt once wrote, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”  

    There is a race that you are supposed to run, that only you can run, a calling in this life that you were meant to fulfill that no one else can.  Focus on what that unique and irreplaceable contribution is that you were meant to make.
     
  3. It’s no better to be the tortoise or the hare.  Stay with me on this one.  You remember that story that we learned when we were kids, right?  The hare was faster and should have easily won the race...BUT he became distracted and the tortoise, because he was steady and focused ended up winning.  The moral of the story:  It’s better to be steady and focused because the race isn’t to the fast, but to the steady.  Tell that to Jamaican sprinter, Usain Bolt!  

    My point is, if you are a rabbit, be the best rabbit you can be.  If you are a turtle, understand how your strengths of steadiness and consistency can best be utilized…but don’t try to be a rabbit!  You’ll just get discouraged.

    So what in the world does this have to do with the 5k?  Glad you asked.  During the race I kept trading places with a girl whose pace wasn’t fast, but it was very steady (she was the tortoise).  I, on the other hand would run past her, then walk for a while and yield the lead back (I was the hare).  The whole race was that way.  

    What I realized though, was that I probably run the way I do because of my personality more than anything.  In the DISC personality profile, I am a high “I”.  Which means my core tendency is to approach life with bursts of energy and focus really well in small spurts, but then I can have a tendency to get bored and distracted if I have to focus on any one thing for an extended period of time.  Some of you know exactly what I'm talking about.

    So, for example, when I am working in my office, in order for me to work effectively, I have to schedule short periodic breaks into my work schedule, to give my mind periodic opportunities to recharge for another burst of energy.  This is vital form me in order to be able to work productively throughout an entire day.  I also have to start each day with a clear understanding of what my top priorities are or I can fritter my time away doing a thousand little, but not very important tasks.

    My guess is this girl who kept trading places with me during the race was an “S”.  She was steady, stable, and consistent.  That has some tremendous strengths…and like my personality style, it has some caution points as well (obviously...she finished before I did!).  I’ll discuss the DISC in a future email and you’ll have the opportunity to find out your core personality style.  This is one of my favorite activities that I like to do with my clients.  It is a HUGE eye opener for most people.

    Bottom line?  One of the keys to living your life well is to understand what your core personality is and to live in alignment with it, leveraging the unique strengths of your style while limiting and being aware of the caution points and limitations of your style.

It's amazing what you can learn while running in a cow pasture!

Bill