Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Exercise is a Lot Like Work--or is the Other Way Around?

A recent Wall Street Journal article commented on how little things can make what should otherwise seem like an easy workout into a hard one.  The simple message from this article reminds me of the 20 mile race I ran two days ago.  My goal was under 2:30.  I did it, running a 2:29:57.  Couldn't cut it much closer.  And it is not the fastest I have ever run 20 miles but with 12 weeks to go until my next marathon and the temperature being 75 degrees with very high humidity at 8 AM (race start time), I did just what I planned.  

That is the key.  For a workout to go well, we must control what we can control.  How much rest?  How hard was the last workout?  Are we varying our workouts?  Are we getting enough sleep?  Are we concentrating too much on other things?  (See the picture below to find out what happens when I concentrate on too many other things while running and take a fall leading to four weeks in a wrist brace.)  Can we focus on the workout itself and not on other stresses?

In any case, there are some things that we can control and some things that we can't.  I meticuluously trained for eight weeks leading up to the 20 mile race.  And despite the uncontrollable--weather--I succeeded.  Do I always succeed?  No.  Earlier this year despite equally meticulous training for a 5K on a course with which I am very familiar I didn't get the PR I was hoping for.  But I did what I could and still had a good showing.

So it is with our careers and business.  There are things we have control over.  Our appearance.  Our sleep (just as important for work as for exercise).  Our effort level.  Our continuing to learn.  If we take what we can control and make sure that we maximize our effort and maximize our attention, then we maximize our chances of success.  There will always be events we cannot control.  What we must hope for is that by maximizing our attention to detail on the things we can control that we get as close to success as possible.

So, I'm not quite sure if this is a lesson from exericse for work or the other way around, but it is an important lesson for both for me and for anyone trying to succeed in life. 

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