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Be the Exception not the Rule

You should wake up each day and recognize what a remarkable miracle it is to be you. Just think that since the beginning of time, no one has ever been you. No one has ever lived your life, experienced your success, your failure, your happiness, your sadness, no one walks in your shoes. Understanding that you are unique, is critical to running your own marathon. No one can have your finger prints, they like you are individual. You are you, absolutely one hundred percent unique. 

Embrace that, enjoy it, and most of all take advantage of it. You were born to be different, and you have to ask how would the world be different if you were not in it. You don't want to be a commodity, you want to be the one that people notice, the one that grabs attention, the one that is not afraid of being different. Be the voice, not the echo. There are times when you will need to fit in, there are times when you have to follow the rules, and there will be times that blending in is important as well, but to truly grow and experience what life has to offer, you have to be yourself, every unique inch of yourself. Look around you, and appreciate every person for their own uniqueness. 

How can you grow without taking the time to appreciate those around you, and respecting their unique nature as well. Inspiration from others can help you to grasp that which makes you special. If people can find what you offer everywhere, then you are not tapping your uniqueness and you might get overlooked. Just like a product you might be looking at it you want to display yourself with your unique features, because customizing yourself is important in your growth and your future. If you were to google yourself where would you show up in the rankings? Social media is so important in the world today that you have to think about yourself in that light, because you are part of something and your unique abilities are certainly what set you apart from everyone else, in your job, and in your life.

You have to run your own marathon, but you have to blend in many times during that race, and sometimes you need to shine like the sun, others you need to be like a fly on the wall. We all have our stories of how we blend, and how we shine, but balancing that is key to your future. Think about what matters most to you. There are many times in your life and career that you want to stand out, you want to show your unique abilities and you want to shine like a star in the bright night sky. There are other times that you want to simply blend in, maybe you are working on something that will require rules to be broken, and for now you just want to go with the flow. There are going to be times that you have to make some waves, but the important lesson is to ride those like a professional surfer, because you don't want to fall off and get drenched, because being all washed up is not where you are headed. Plan the path, adapt as needed, know your talents, know your strengths, and most of all know how unique you really are.

Be ever Present but use the Past to see the Future

We all get comfortable in our day to day routines, developing an efficient and finely oiled path. The issue is that with routines we sometimes forget to anticipate obstacles, and we also begin to take things for granted. Certainly routines are helpful and yet what are we missing because we settled in for the comfortable route? We are all very deeply happy in the comforts of our routines, knowing what comes next, right up until the time it doesn't. 

Are we settling in our lives? Is the routine we developed for success keeping us from enjoying life? Why do we have to choose between living in the current or preparing for the future? We are missing so much and leaving so many behind. What we have to do is bring happiness, ambition, and our future with us on our daily journey. Our goals, our visions, need to be a part of an adaptable path, and we have to learn to live in the moment, while taking life one tiny step at a time. Pressures are what overwhelm our lives, but if we stop and instead of focusing on the prize, enjoy the moments we can grasp more of what makes the end worthwhile. 

Consistency is important but being able to adapt when a curve comes in the road is equally important in helping us maintain happiness. Rearranging our routines, creating some imbalance on occasion is what helps us to enjoy moments more, and can help us to adapt when life throws us a big curve. Take one aspect of your daily routine and change it. If you stay up late normally, get up early, if you get up early, sleep in, but just adjust slightly, give it a few weeks and see how it changes your life, maybe it has a negative impact, maybe positive, but you will never know until you try. The biggest impact you can bring to your routine and to you life is more time. If you have time to complain that you don't have time, then you are wasting it. The real way to take advantage of time is to embrace it, learn to practice using your time wisely, and be happy about it, instead of complaining, use that time to do something for yourself. For just 2 weeks make yourself remove the words “I don't have time” from your vocabulary and replace it with filling that time with happy thoughts, a drink for you, a moment of yoga, or simply one moment of deep breathing. 

Every moment in our lives is precious, the time we have with our loved ones, the time to relax and enjoy the moment, the time we walk, stand in the sun, and reach for the stars. Of course we have goals, we have dreams, but do those mean more than every moment of life we sacrifice for those results? Our health is comprised of mental, physical, and emotional, together they are our future, so in order to balance our routines with our needs, we need to take time to re-evaluate our lives. Stop every few months, chart it out, see what you did for yourself, for your loved ones, for your future, for today. Look back at the past, see what you missed, what your regrets are, and allow that to help you shape the future, because living in the moment is just as important as living in the future.

No Two Challenges Will Ever Be The Same

As an athlete you know that preparation for every race, or event is always different. Depending on where you are going to be, temperatures, courses, atmosphere, everything plays a part. Well the same is true in life, every job you face will offer it's own challenges, people you work with or meet will all bring different perspectives and challenges to your life. How do you prepare for that? You learn to embrace change, you learn to capture every moment and take with you the experience as it is critical to your success.

Obstacles and challenges that you face on your journey are not there to stop you, they are there to pus you, they are there to teach you to maneuver around them, teaching valuable lessons on the way, and getting your attention so you know that the path ahead is filled with more curves. We are taught to learn the difference between an obstacle and an opportunity. The lesson is that it lies in our attitude toward them. As a runner and athlete I was told early on that success is not about winning, it is about how you face obstacles and react to them. You can look at obstacles as a fence, stopping you in your path, or you can as they say look at them as hurdles and strengthening you as you run from one to another.

Understanding the differences you are going to face in life, trying to prepare for them, taking life lessons with you, being open to learning, and looking ahead on the path to see what lies ahead is what will prepare you for those roadblocks. Goldie Hawn said it well with this spiritual quote, which led to the title of the book, Hawn received from the Venerable Thupten Jgodrup, he is the Nechung Oracle of the Nechung Dorje Drayang Ling Monastery in Dharamsala, India.  “The lotus is the most beautiful flower, whose petals open one by one. But it will only grow in the mud. In order to grow and gain wisdom, first you must have the mud—the obstacles of life and its suffering. The mud speaks of the common ground that humans share, no matter what our stations in life. Whether we have it all or we have nothing, we are all faced with the same obstacles: sadness, loss, illness, dying and death. If we are to strive as human beings to gain more wisdom, more kindness and more compassion, we must have the intention to grow as a lotus and open each petal one by one.”

So as you step out each day, to face a race or the race of life, remember that embracing the differences, embracing the challenges, embracing each other, that is the way we move forward and gain success in all we do. Don't give up, don't give in, instead give your all, the goals you set will help you to see your progress, but the boulders in the road may keep you from seeing the progress that lies ahead. One step and one day a time are the best way to approach those roadblocks, help you to find a way around them. I think about the Disney movie “Ants” and I recall the leaf in the middle of the path as the ants were marching, and the panic that ensued because they didn't know what to do, and then one ant suggests they go around the leaf, and everyone is in shock, and disbelief. Go around the leaf, don't be scared, there is something on the other side, and adventures are part of the journey.

Stepping Out

You have created your vision of success, you have developed a plan, and you have set your goals, now it is time to take that first step, the leap of faith that has you moving forward. So in your preparation you have leveraged your resources, you have identified what makes you tick, what makes you unique and what drives you forward. You are ready, excitement fills your heart, anticipation increases your adrenaline, and training has prepared you. The goals you have outlined will be the chart you can use to gauge success. Martin Luther King Jr. said “Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” 

While you can plan and prepare, make the lists, check them twice, you have to accept facts, because the wind will not always be at your back, and your journey will not always be downhill. You are going to face challenges, mental and physical, but your heart and emotion are what will continue to help you put one foot in front of the other and take steps forward. Most of the time people are conditioned to plan our their lives, every detail mapped out, really preparing for the future, but limiting the potential that people have in themselves. Sometimes it is the challenges we face that make us dig deep, the bumps in the road that make us find more about ourselves than we ever knew. Some of these obstacles teach us new skills, some teach us how strong we are, and some teach us to have faith, and we don't have to fear the unknown. We can plan the journey, but as with every map things change, and maps are not anything but a guideline, there is always another route that can be taken. 

Flexibility and learning to think on your feet is valuable in taking that first step, knowing that you can face anything and you will be making stride to the finish line. Things will never be perfect, never will every aspect be exactly as you planned it. Life is like a floating bullseye, you have to alter your route along the way, multiple times perhaps, but you still have a target, and you still can reach the finish line. You remember hearing the phrase “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” So go ahead, get started, the marathon is long, the road is bumpy, but there is no absolute in the journey. This is not going to be easy, but take the step, the staircase is there, or you can build it with each step you take, but you will never get to the finish line if you don't start running. Focus, visualize and see success, see yourself as you cross over, feel the joy in your heart, the smiles on the faces of those who support you, the pride you feel because you finished your first race. There will be others, there is always another race, another challenge that lies ahead, but the first one is where you learn how to take the first step, how to reach deep down and push yourself forward, it is the race that teaches you how successful you can be. 

Step up – Step out – the staircase is there – feel it beneath your feet – keep going – one foot in front of the other – moving forward – moving ahead – moving – and that is what is most important.

Preparation is the Key to Success

While you can live life by the seat of your pants if you like, it is not going to help you be successful. Nothing can do that better than preparation. Preparation is more than understanding what to expect, it is allowing you to prepare for the unexpected, it teaches you how to handle those bumps in the road you didn't see. Everything you do and everything you learn is important in preparing you for your journey. The value of lessons learned is critical. Preparing a time line of where you want to go is what keeps you on schedule for your success. 

Success is possible only if you are timely, because if not you get left behind. Preparation also means you take stages, you transition from walking to running, from around the block to the marathon. Success is a series of opportunities and so being ready for those is what allows one to be successful. Success is not just a matter of luck, it takes work, it takes preparation. “I believe the greater the handicap, the greater the triumph”, John H. Johnson said. It makes victory sweet when you have planned it. 

Planning is key, but confidence is also important, because you have to know your abilities, know your strengths and your weaknesses, show others just how great you are. Once you have a plan, you have your path prepared, you have your belief in yourself, now you are ready to be a leader, and that is the final key to preparing for success. Most important as you prepare for your marathon of life you need to know you can't prepare for everything, you can however structure yourself to think on your feet, learn everything you can. Don't let your life be a victim of chance, prepare for the future as if you stepped back from the past.

Plan a Route Do Not Get Stuck In The Middle

Standing in the middle of the road is very dangerous; you get knocked down by the traffic from both sides.” Margaret Thatcher

As you develop your plans for moving forward, you need to first remember that change is not immediate, it takes time, and persistence. You need to establish goals, you need to understand obstacles will present themselves, there will be set backs, and beating yourself up is not the answer. First, you need a plan, so focus on Newton's First Law of Motion, get moving. Getting started, sitting down and developing your goals, laying out the plan, providing a mean to track and record, that is the first step in getting out of the middle of the road. 

As you develop the plan, be specific on what you want to accomplish. Then open your eyes and start looking for the obstacles that will begin entering your path. These challenges you face should not be looked at as impossible, but rather as lessons that teach us how to plan better. There will be different types of roadblocks you face, personal, environmental and social. Personal obstacles tie directly to our mind, our beliefs, these are things that can prevent us from success. We have to face what we must personally overcome, we have to face our fears, look at what is preventing us from moving forward, using those to make more effective results. 

Social roadblocks come from others in your life, either on purpose, or by accident, and sometimes simply because they don't understand your path. If you plan your route, you can communicate with others about your journey, you can make sure others are a part of the success, and not standing in the road. You can't always get exactly what you want, you can't control others, but you can take care of your life, and plan around the social obstacles so you can avoid getting off track. 

Another obstacle that you have to manipulate around are the environmental ones, you have to expect the unexpected, you have to put in place contingency plans and alternate routes that keep you on the road to your success, nothing ever goes perfect, no plan will be without setbacks, but chart the progress, see the momentum, feel the results. If you are training for a marathon, planning your financial future, looking for a new job, know that everything needs a route, plotted and laid out, structured for success. So go ahead, get out of the road, don't become a statistic, become marvelous!

Me - Me - Me - it is all about ME - Why being selfish is smart

While you might think that putting yourself first is selfish, it is actually important for your health, your family and your job. Your lifestyle can be draining to you physically and emotionally, so you have to take care of yourself in order to manage other aspects of your life. Running a marathon can be quite demanding, and if you are not at the top of your game, you could be falling behind, and then before you know it, you could be completely out of the race. So let's start with clearing your mind, take a deep breath, sit down and literally take a break. 

Now you need to fuel up your tank, mentally, physically, spiritually, emotionally, it is time to be selfish. This is not exactly true, you are simply making yourself a priority, and looking at how you can rearrange your life to find an extra few minutes you need. First you need to listen to your mind and body, find a place for some alone time, five minutes to listen to yourself. Try to visualize and write down what you would like to change, what would be the ideal day if you could have it, write down everything you do everyday. Sometimes writing things down can be powerful and help you to see just what you do everyday. 

 The next step to being selfish, learning to say the word “No”. You have to set boudaries on your time, this preserves your energy and helps you to learn to take control of yourself. Just be prepared to tell people that you are just totally committed and have no time currently to take on anything else. You will see how rewarding this makes you feel. Taking this step is key and maybe allow you to find that extra five minutes, now pamper yourself, do something nice for you and you alone. Let others know that you have to make changes, it starts with you. Tell your family, your boss, yourself, that way you can actually make the changes a reality. 

You don't realize that putting everyone's needs ahead of your own is eating away at you until it is too late, which is why you must start taking action now. Respecting your mind, body and spirit starts with respecting your time. If you want others to respect your time, then show them it is important. Managing yourself, gaining control of the 'me' time allows you to manage your life more efficiently and in turn will allow you to get more done. Delegate and know that there are things that can get done without you, maybe not exactly as you would do it, but it still gets done. Sometimes learning to finish the race is more important than winning it, and so you have to set those priorities to put yourself first. So don't worry about being selfish, it is all about ME ME ME! This step is the smartest one you can take in the marathon of life, it helps you to train, it helps you to be successful and it helps you to make it to the finish line. So step back, find a place to be alone, re-evaluate your 'me' time and make sure you are being selfish, it could very well save your life.

Seeing is Believing

Setting goals is key when looking for results, but the power source for achieving results is in being able to visualize success. One main reason goal setting has such a high success rate is because it provides a clearly defined target, and with that a focus point that people can see. The human mind is able to wrap itself around a target, it can see it, and then it can achieve it. Think about the way a magnifying glass focuses sunlight and can then produce enough heat to start a fire. The human mind has this same focus, and the goal produces the heat, so that a fire burns inside our mind and drives us to see results.

Visualization is the key to providing energy and ability in achieving those goals. The conscious mind makes us aware of reality and dreams, but our subconscious can take the visualization and allow us to make it real in our mind. The ability to visualize can actually program our nervous system to make us believe we are experiencing an event. So even though it is not reality, we imagine it with such clarity, that we believe it. The power of visualization is amazing.

Now the old saying, “seeing is believing” comes into play. Many of us have faced difficult situations that might seem impossible, but if we have that power to see things in a positive light, we can actually alter the way things might be. Confidence is key in so many aspects of our lives, and certainly pushes us to gain results. Intense focus and belief in yourself can be a powerful tool in achievement. Wanting something so bad, being able to feel it when we close our eyes, that ability to visualize victory is the spirit that really drives winners.

Visualization is actually training your brain to experience a situation the way you want it to be. Our brains respond to continuous stimulation, it is constantly adapting, changing, and adjusting. Repetition is also key, the more often we experience a situation, the more we visualize how things will be. Just as a runner trains and prepares the body for a marathon, the brain has to be trained and has to visualize the race. Every athlete uses visualization, to not only reduce anxiety, but to remove stress from the race. Removing obstacles is what allows us to be successful, in running, in sports, and in life.

Using visualization as a tool to succeeding allows you to be in control of your mental game and allows you to control the situation instead of letting the situation control you. You manage the stress, you manage the energy needed to run the race, you manage your mind. So in training for a race, or preparing for a presentation, remember that writing down your goals, visualizing the results, seeing how the race unfolds in your mind, that is the key to victory. Author and speaker Brian Tracy says, “you have to see your bull's eye before you can hit it.” See it. Feel it. Believe it.

Healthy Desserts DeStress Physical and Mental Well Being

If you can remember desserts – you can remember de-stress – and that is key to physical and mental well being; and well, it can also be delicious! Like with any journey, this one begins with a first step, and as Martin Luther King Jr. said “Faith is taking the first step, even when you don't see the whole staircase.”

Exercise in most any form is a stress reliever, and activity boosts endorphins, bringing positive attitudes, and happiness, which in turn is a healing to our bodies. Exercise comes in many forms, running, walking, aerobics, yoga, going up and down stairs, walking further to your car, just find exercise in everything you do. In exercise the neurotransmitters, those endorphins provide that 'feel good' high and allow us all to gain a few moments of peace, and as we start an exercise program, the more we increase the activity, the more self-confidence we gain, the more our sleep patterns increase, the more stress, depression and anxiety dissapate.

Physical and mental health go hand in hand and helping us to get control of our emotional health, allowing us to deal with the wonderful challenges life provides us, giving us resilience and bringing more joy to our daily lives. Not only does our physical and mental health make us content, it also provides us with a zest for life, gives the ability to deal with stress, and helps us balance work and play. Exercise and positive physical and mentail health is not going to remove our hard times, and will not remove the stress we face in life, it just provides us the outlet for dealing with it all.

Adding exercise in our lives can also be a challenge, but look for ways you can, sometimes exercise is right in front of us, we just have to embrace it. Take the stairs, park further away and walk, sit on an exercise ball, do squats while on the phone, find just a few minutes in your day to help you gain physical and mental well being. So we all need to have our daily dose of De-sserts, because they help us feel sweet. Never miss your slice, and write down what you do each day, sometimes you have to see what you have accomplished to realize you are making headway, all it takes is that first step, so go ahead, have some faith. Afterall, we have to run a minute, in order to run the marathon.

Life is a Marathon

 Stress is something we all face everyday. We all have deadlines, people expecting things from us, work and family obligations, financial hurdles, and more. Stress can consume us, and yet it can also motivate us, and in the end, how you deal with stress is key to also making you successful. Learning how to run your life, learning how to use stress to your advantage, and learning that your response to what life throws at you are the keys to finishing a successful marathon of life.  Self-compassion is a first step, the warm up that we all need. Looking at your mistakes, recognizing that failures are not the end, but simply lessons to your growth, then you can improve your performance and have the optimism to get past the warm up. Humans make mistakes, so take a deep breath and soak it in. Now, the next step is to think about the race, plan out your exercise routine, develop the how and why of what you are doing. Set challenges for yourself, they will help you to stay on track, and keep you focused on where you want to end up.  How many decisions do you make in a day? Simple ones, hard ones, everyone adding a little stress that you are unaware of, but it doesn't have to be that way. Establish routines in your life, schedules that let you do certain things at the same time everyday, helping you put some structure in your chaos. Little decisions you make on a daily basis can be organized, put into a schedule, a routine that will in the end reduce your stress. Set aside just a few minutes everyday, five or ten to do one thing for yourself, something that is interesting or important to you, allowing yourself that small pleasure will re-energize you, it will fuel your soul to move forward. Remember though it needs to be not just something fun, it needs to be important to you.  Take your to do list and add specific deadlines, place a where and when on each item, not only will it help you to do it, but it will help you to focus on accomplishments. You can actually cross things off the list each day, and move forward, taking another step in your marathon. Remember you are in training, so progress is what you are striving for, not perfection. Goals allow you to develop skills, or fine tune ones that you have, and you need to focus on your ability, not others, your goal is to finish the race, not necessarily win it. However it also lets you see the improvement, you see day to day, month to month, year to year how your goals are coming to pass. Seeing progress and results are motivating and help us to take another step forward in our marathon run.  Along the journey, we all have to decide our style, what makes us run faster, run longer, what helps us stay positive, what makes us an optimist or a pessimist? Each of us has a style, and understanding what your style is, that is key in running a successful race. We can all reach the finish line, but for each one of us there is a different goal, and a different strategy to get there. Embrace your style, understand your focus, that will help you deal with stress in a more positive way, and keep your performance levels at their best.  We are just beginning to train for this marathon, we have to pace ourselves, we have to identify our path. If you have read Marathon Fit to Lead then you have tools that you can apply, if not, hopefully these key points will get you started, and stay tuned because we are going to help everyone get started training, we all want to run our best life.