Last year, I made a New Year’s resolution that changed my life: I resolved to read more books.
My office is starting to feel cramped…
Looking back, I read about one book per month.
I know, I’m not setting any speed reading records! But that’s more than I’ve read in a long time.
The book choices followed my varied interests of running, technology, business, and health. Some of my favorites include:
- Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow
- Blue Zones: 9 Lessons for Living Longer From The People Who’ve Lived the Longest
- Peak Performance
- Getting Everything You Can Out of All You’ve Got
- Climate of Hope
- Steve Jobs
Besides the simple act of learning a lot, I’ve discovered that anybody who’s accomplished anything in life has believed they could do it.
Whether that’s Steve Jobs radically changing our relationship with computers or a centenarian in Okinawa walking for hours every day – people do big things in part because they think they can accomplish them.
Without undying conviction, goals aren’t met.
And the parallel to running is eery. To accomplish a big Personal Best, Boston Qualifier, or other outlandish goal you have to believe you can do it in the first place.
Thinking back to my high school running days, I remember this mindset as pervasive on the cross country and track team. Everyone knew they could run faster – we just had to execute.
It was never a question of whether I would be able to run a sub-5:00 mile – it was just a matter of when.
There wasn’t a debate on whether we’d win our League Championship – it was just whether we’d win this year, next, the year after that, or all three years.
We knew success would be ours if we simply worked at it.
In other words, we knew we would “grow into” a big goal.
Learn From the Growth Mindset of a 4 Year Old
Let me share a story about “growing into” a big goal…
A few weeks ago, I walked to the playground with my four-year old Reagan. And she said something that I’m having a hard time forgetting:
Dad, let’s go to the rope! I think I’m strong enough to climb up this time.
This is an incredible statement because we had been at the same playground just a few days earlier. Nobody’s getting any stronger in four days!
But Reagan thought she could. And that’s the point: she has an unyielding growth mindset about everything.
It doesn’t matter that she had just tried the rope a few days earlier and failed.
It doesn’t matter that she can’t actually get any stronger in that timeframe.
What matters is that she thinks she can grow into this huge goal. She’ll keep working at it every time we go to the playground, never losing enthusiasm for trying to climb up the rope.
Reagan probably won’t be able to climb to the top for another year. But she’ll keep trying, every time.
Ask yourself: when was the last time you had the growth mindset to stick with a big goal for a long time, despite constant failure?
When was the last time you recognized failure isn’t permanent – it’s just temporary?
The equation for success demands a growth mindset. You must believe you can improve.
But it’s not just about your inner beliefs. Who you choose to surround yourself with is just as important.
Who Do You Spend Time With?
The people that you surround yourself with have an incredible impact on your success – in running and everything else.
In a landmark 2007 study, Harvard professor Nick Christakis discovered that your health is not entirely up to you. It’s a social phenomenon widely influenced by your peers.
He also chronicled this effect more broadly in his book Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives.
Consider this: if your friend becomes obese, you have a 57% higher likelihood of also becoming obese!
It’s crazy to think that our behavior is contagious. It spreads to our family and friends.
Famed business guru Jim Rohn once accurately said:
You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.
This effect was confirmed in another study by Christakis and his colleague James Fowler. They found that emotions are contagious as well and that happy people usually have more friends (of whom most are happy as well).
We’d be best served to kick the Negative Nancy’s out of our lives and focus on spending time with healthy, happy people.
Can you imagine how this can be applied to your running?
Just like in high school, I was surrounded by faster runners and believed I could run like them. Being around other runners who are passionate about the sport was a game-changer.
We can take several steps to run faster that have nothing to do with training:
- Meeting a friend to run a few times per week for added accountability
- Connect with your local running club or other group for motivation and support
- Find runners like you online and help them reach their goals
- Join a virtual team or community to share your own aspirations and learn from others
Success doesn’t happen in a vacuum.
Don’t be a Lone Wolf – surround yourself with runners who love running and you’re destined to succeed.
People, Support, and Growth
The more I learn, the more clear it becomes that the environment you live in has profound effects on your success.
If you surround yourself with sedentary non-runners who don’t believe that changing your life is possible… then you’ll have a harder time reaching your running goals.
But if you hang out with positive runners who encourage your ability to “grow into” an audacious goal, the sky is the limit.
Soon, you’ll have the opportunity to connect with a team of like-minded runners who are all striving for one thing: success.
That’s because later this week, Team Strength Running is opening to new members.
We’ll push you to run more. You’ll get guidance when you need it. I’ll personally answer your questions. And you’ll know that the training you’re doing is rock solid.
For those runners looking for connection, coaching support, and the right environment to chase your goals, I hope you’ll take advantage of it.
Sign up here and I’ll send you more info about Team Strength Running.
If you want a place to get great advice, connect with other runners like you, and bask in your love of running, this is it!