Lesson: It’s easy to be fearless when nothing bad happens but it’s easy to fear everything when something bad happens. Even though I had miles upon miles of successful rides, only a few bad experiences were enough to shake my confidence and give consideration to the thought “should I continue?” Perhaps because of financial investment to the race and time already spent training, quitting wasn’t an option. How often, though, do we shy away from opportunities to do even common work because the memory of painful reference points is fresh in your mind? When do we softly apply the brakes in false anticipation of a perceived threat? And when do we ignore the miles of success we’ve enjoyed when we fail to understand another’s fear following a setback? Committed To Accomplishment This year, perhaps more than any previous race, I felt a great sense of accomplishment coming across the finish line. It was a similar effort to previous years but my joy this year was about overcoming adversity. I knew in that moment that I was stronger as a result of the circumstances of this race. I could have quit after the first, second and third bike accidents which all happened about 2 weeks apart. It would have been easy to quit and very few would blame me for throwing in the towel. But the reality is that I had committed to a goal and the only way to regain my confidence was to start building positive experiences toward my goal. “To passionately persevere through adversity toward the realization of a goal”, this is the definition of ‘Grit’.
Lesson: Accomplishment brings confidence, and unexpectedly, an ability to have greater belief in others. Accomplishment comes with a significant portion of confidence and the greater the adversity to overcome, the greater the boost in confidence. But if we look closely and embrace it, we’ll find that our confidence is mixed with something else…. belief. This isn’t regular belief in self that can be interchanged with confidence, this is an outward belief in others. Once you see that you can do something, there is a voice inside that says others can do it too. This belief is beautiful because it allows you to start to see the potential in others. You can now motivate and inspire because you see the ability they may not see themselves. What if today’s leaders treated employees as people who “can” instead of those who “can’t”? Truly, the more I am able to accomplish, the less impressed I am with myself and the more impressed I am with the ability we have as humans to do great things both physically and mentally. Passionate About Life On race day, the gun goes off. It didn’t matter how prepared I was, how many miles I had logged, or how perfected my technique was or wasn’t. The race began and I, along with nearly 3000 athletes dove into the water and gave it all we had to make it to the finish. We collectively responded and reacted to the conditions of the day, a strong current during the swim, crippling headwinds on the bike and a crowded course for the run. What some gave wasn’t enough. For others, success was theirs. Largely it depended on the hours spent in training, eating right and putting forth a consistent effort. Most who didn’t finish on race day hadn’t paid the price in training.
Lesson: Finding success is a matter of habit. In the well-known book “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg, he explains a concept called ‘the habit loop’, which defines the way we establish habits in our lives (good or bad). The habit loop operates on three principles 1. A cue. This is something that acts as a trigger and usually invites thoughts or actions that signal it’s time to seek pleasure or avoid pain 2. A routine. This is the actions or thought processes we use to move us to a realization of a reward, either achieving pleasure or avoiding pain and 3. A reward. The realization of said pleasure or avoidance of pain. For example, when you smell a fresh batch of cookies you might receive a cue, that cue could tell you “there are fresh cookies that probably taste great” then your routine will lead you to find cookies. When you find them you will eat them. When habit loops are repeated over and over, they create a craving, and cravings repeatedly indulged lead to addiction. In this same way, experiencing adversity (cue) and exercising grit toward a goal (routine) will lead to accomplishment (reward). When this habit loop is repeated then we build our grit, and we become addicted to accomplishment. We no longer see challenges as insurmountable walls, rather, we see them as obstacles to be navigated as we hungrily pursue the accomplishment we crave.
On race day, the gun is going off. Will you be ready? Greer Method Complete Coaching provides one on one coaching for executives and business owners. Through expert coaches, habit locking technology, and proven processes we help leaders create, manage, and sustain personal and professional performance. Jared J. Greer is the founder of Greer Method Complete Coaching. He is an executive coach, 6-time Ironman finisher, marathoner, ultra-marathoner, husband, and father of four.