Last summer I wrote a series on lessons we all can learn from marathon training. (You can find it in the archives.) This series responds to requests for an update.
Each week, my training culminates in an aggressive weekend run. My latest was epic: a marathon time just 30 seconds over the “impossible” two hour mark; 28 total miles at a 4:36 pace; plus another slow (5:18 pace) four miles tacked on at the end, just because. My body is now doing on the AMT/Open Stride machine what it was doing on the elliptical machine last February.
Compare that to the day before, when my family went to Copper Mountain to celebrate my daughter’s birthday. We rode the American Eagle chairlift up, and they hiked from there to the 12,441’ summit while I rode back down and shuffled around base village with my cane.
When do we stop believing, stop doing the “fake it till you make it” shuffle, stop taking the placebo, and just give up?
It’s not just a question for me and my marathon training; it’s a decision all of us inevitably face every time we try to create something new and big and exciting – hang our shingle, change jobs, launch a business, start an artistic project…. Hope, vision, and inspiration are strong fuel, and we run on them a long ways, but one day we hit one too many walls and run out of emotional gas, not to mention money. Now what? Do we accept our fate and go back where we came from? And what about this awful mess we’ve made of our lives in the meantime?
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could learn when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em before things get ugly?
Jonathan Fields, a lawyer turned serial entrepreneur, author, producer, blogger, and coach, wrote a book about this: Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance. It’s the best I’ve read on the subject, and can’t recommend it highly enough. Besides his usual insights, he serves up scores of internal and external strategies for deciding when to hit the eject button or not.
Three of his self-examination questions caught my eye over the weekend. “In light of the information and experiences you’ve had along the journey to date, does [your] original motive still hold true? Are you still equally or even more determined to make it happen? And given what you now know, do you believe you can make it happen?”
Yes, yes, and yes.
The creative journey always takes us places we didn’t expect. It’s by turns unnerving, threatening, unreasonable, unsafe, and just plain weird. And – what’s completely exasperating about it – creativity never gets stuck or quits; it just runs on like the Energizer Bunny. Which means if anybody’s going to wake up and end the dream, it’s up to us.
Guess I’m not ready to do that yet. Instead, I’m looking into new ways to take my training to a whole new level. How about you?