Do You Have a Success Plan?

The gun went off at 6:00 am, Saturday morning, April 2, 2011. Twenty seven hours, 44 minutes and 34 seconds later, I crossed the finish line completing my first 100-mile Ultramarathon. What allowed me to succeed? Two things: a plan and my word!

It seems surreal even now. As I have gone over the event in my mind for the last few days, I think about the key factors that enabled me to reach my goal. It certainly was not all due to my training because in all reality, I trained harder and more consistently for the fifty mile race that I completed last year. It was not due to my superior health because I weigh a little more than I did last year at this time. So what was it? 

First, I got clear on what my outcome was.  I decided I wanted to complete the race in under 30 hours.  I did some research and I found a plan I could follow to do just that. Provided I ran the first 50 miles in less than 13 hrs, I could complete the race in twenty eight hours with two to spare for unexpected emergencies. I printed out the plan and put it in my race belt. It became my bible during the race. It broke down the lap times so that I had smaller goals to accomplish on the way to the bigger picture. I set small steps and overachieved each lap by about fifteen to twenty minutes. I used these minutes to take care of my body: changing shoes, shirts, and socks, using a full jar of Vaseline, and getting medical support. When I lost the map after the 6th lap, I felt like I had lost my best friend (I later found it). The plan saved me from destruction. It allowed me to focus on the small consistent actions that made the difference between success and failure: filling the water bottle each station, eating at each aid station, taking my electrolyte caps each hour, and consistently checking my watch to measure my progress versus the plan. 

The second thing that kept me going was my word. I created a tremendous amount of leverage for myself to accomplish this goal. I told my friends, my family, my clients, and everyone on every social media network I am involved with, that I was going to do this! Most importantly, I told myself that I was going to give this everything that I had! I did not give myself an escape route anywhere. 

There were times I could have quit. Before starting lap seven (after 75 miles) the Red Cross Medic looked at my feet and told me there was nothing they could do for my feet since the pain did not come from an external blister but an internal separation of skin. If I wanted to continue, all I could do was to slap on some Vaseline and suck it up. There were also several times in lap eight when I actually stopped and told my pacer that I wanted to quit, period. I was done. And, even as I said the words out loud, doubled over in pain, I knew that I could not look at myself in the mirror when I got home if I didn’t give it everything I had. And, unless I blacked out and they took me away in an ambulance, I could not stop. In those moments, I looked down deeper into myself than ever before, checked my handwritten plan, pulled myself together, and kept on going. 

It is ironic as I look back on my life, that 21 years ago, I could not run a mile.  It’s clear that if a person wants to have a full life they are proud of, success takes work and effort. It took just as much work and effort emotionally 21 years ago for me to push myself to run 8 laps, walk 4, run 4 more; to tell myself that I could run three miles and then keep on doing it every other day for the next 6 months. The only difference between then and now is that I have conditioned myself to take on bigger goals. My first 10K seemed like an eternity.  The first marathon I signed up for I never ran, but I signed up again and the next year I ran my first ˝ marathon followed by my first full marathon.  The first 100-miler I signed up for I cancelled but the following year I ran 50 miles. This year, I learned everything I needed to learn to complete a 100-mile race and accomplished something that had enormous meaning for me.  The road to succ ess has not come in a straight line.  I’ve tried and “failed” at times, I have fallen on my face and come short on some of my goals.  Yet, I have gotten back up and tried again, and again set in the conviction that our past does not equal our future.  By having a plan for success, a system to follow, and by putting enough leverage on myself to accomplish my goal, I put all the chances for success on my side.

Whether you are reaching for a small goal or a big goal, whether it has to do with your personal life or your business, success will always take work. To achieve all that you want in life remember that having a good plan that you can rely upon and keeping your word –to yourself and others– will always serve you well, even when all you want to do is quit!

To your continued success,

James 

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