Endurance - power of surviving an unpleasant or difficult process or situation without giving way. Resilience - the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness. No matter your facet in life, your occupation, your age, your educational level, your gender, your ethnicity, your spirituality, etc., having the ability to be resilient and endure the endless, difficult currents and crushing waves this thing called life brings your way is a necessity . . . PERIOD. Here is a newsflash: LIFE IS TOUGH!
Can life be beautiful, blessed and rewarding? Absolutely. But (and it's a big BUT), there will be epic challenges navigating these waters. My hope is that what little I can provide those I meet (or talk to in this case) a glimmer of assistance in attempting to swim with the currents, not against them. Trust me . . . I've tried swimming against the currents many a time; I don't suggest it. Water (LIFE) is far stronger!
Therefore, for this simple June newsletter, I'm going to share with you the keys I've learned along the way, which have helped me endure not only 30+ endurance races (including 3-Ironman events); they'e helped me in some of the worst that life has thrown my way. Please note, some of these keys are NOT EASY, but then again, most things worthwhile are not. How do I know? These keys are not only tried and true in my own life experiences; many are also the credo to Navy Seal training.
1. Learn to enjoy pain . . . seriously. You're going to experience it in a physical and metal sense at numerous times; you must learn to embrace and grow from it. You can certainly try to run from it, but like your shadow, it will always be right behind you.
2. Test and push your comfort zones. As humans, we love to practice and/or take part in things we're already good at. Our ego loves this, because it makes us feel good about ourselves. However, for true growth, you MUST work at and develop skills you find challenging. Did you know when I signed up for my first endurance race, I couldn't even swim 2-lengths of a pool? Think about that for a moment . . . 2.4-miles anyone?
3. There are winners and losers . . . winning (definitions vary) is more fun. Plan and work accordingly. You don't need to look very far to observe that life certainly follows this notion. While your definition of winning can vary (depending on your goals), there is certainly a version of success in your head.
4. Do not fear taking control of situations. Be a leader. This is something that can be difficult, but oh my, is it necessary. I often say in my presentations, "at times you may not like what my answer is, but I promise you, it will be honest." Leadership takes internal and external strength. It takes empathy. It takes resolve. It takes guts . . . and it requires brutal truth and honesty. You can try to sugarcoat difficulties, tragedies, etc. all you want; in the end they still taste like crap. So, you might as well tell it like it is and work like hell towards something better.
5. Control only what you can control; let go of the rest. I've alluded to this in multiple podcast episodes (and I'm sure in a newsletter at some point). Simply put, follow this key or go insane. It's that simple. For example, in the Lake Placid Ironman, I cannot control the obscene amount of mountains (not hills) in the Adirondacks; they're coming no matter what, so I guess I better keep pedaling!
6. Take baby steps; one routine, job, exercise at a time. While easier said than done, FOCUS on what you're doing and take simple steps until you're proud of its outcome. Really, when you think about it, we learned everything we need to know about life in Pixar's film, Finding Nemo. "Just keep swimming."
7. Until our final breath, keep on swimming. This is a fitting place to round out our list; because, just as Dory stated in number 6, what other choice do we really have? You're either moving or you're not. PERIOD.
Whether you agree with my list or not is entirely up to you and your core belief system. All I can tell you is that this list has and still does assist me greatly in navigating the most difficult competition of all: LIFE.
Your song connection for this blog entry is one of my heaviest tracks, "Face the Mirror". To build endurance and resilience, you need to be able to look at yourself and work towards being the person you're proud to see in the mirror's reflection. From a musical standpoint, it was time to shred. "Face the Mirror" is the heaviest track I've done in quite some time. It's always fun to let it rip and release my inner Judas Priest or Iron Maiden (I'm just not near as good:)) Be careful if you turn this one up; the bass line might just melt your face off . . . but with rock n' roll, that's a good thing!