Feel Good Movie…for you

Happy New Year everyone! So one of my new year’s resolutions was pretty simple – live life superbly. In 2009 and 2010 we have seen some pretty gruesome times. Lost jobs, lost riches, lost homes…and on and on. Pretty bleak… or maybe not. I had many of these issues affect me personally from a business standpoint in 2009 and 2010 and as best as I can figure I’m still here and fighting the good fight. When you sum it all up, I think we are pretty fortunate no matter how down the cards may be. Pretty fortunate because we live in an awesome country where we can get up each day and change whatever reality may have affected us from the last. No country rewards persistence, vision and stick-to-it-ness like the US. So in keeping with one of my resolutions I thought I might share a clip of many hundreds of people living life superbly. Caveat is this is filmed in Heathrow .. but our UK friends need love to.

So enjoy and I hope in 2011 you can live life superbly and always find time to be in the moment.

PERSEVERANCE

So each day when I wake up and get the day started I walk out of my bedroom and am greeted by this picture of President Abraham Lincoln.  My wife got it for me several years ago for Christmas after I commented how much I liked the theme of the print and the saying.  I generally am a bit cynical when it comes to these success oriented blurbs with catchy themes like “vision”, “inspiration”, and so on.  In fact, its enough sometimes to make you think you are locked in an old episode of “The Office”, walking into another great day at Dunder Mifflin. 

“Office” comments aside, I really enjoyed this particular piece and its a great saying to wake up to each day.  This past year has been a real meat grinder on several fronts.  Business, life, etc.   Some has been exciting and inspirational, other moments have been stressed and lonely.  I was one of the unfortunate many that got caught flat footed in the real estate bubble.  What started off as a fun hobby with a few rental houses ballooned into quite a business with lots of houses and other side ventures (on top of my regular day gig by the way).  That was all great on the upswing but the new market reality has created quite a “shit” storm to be perfectly blunt. 

That being said, life is there to be lived, experienced, chances taken, rewards and penalties received.  I’m not happy about some of the current economic realities but the alternative to all of this is never trying, never putting yourself out there, never dreaming, achieving or pushing yourself.  I know that I’ll get through this and be stronger, better and more experienced for it… but some days the struggle is taxing to say the least. 

So each day when I wake up I am greeted by this view of Honest Abe and the wonderful saying below.  For all of those out there enduring your own challenges in life, love and business – here is something to brighten your day.   To me, the quote is priceless and so true.  

“Perseverance”

He FAILED in business in ’31.
He was DEFEATED for state legislature in ’32.
He tried another business in ’33. It FAILED.
His fiancee died in ’35.
He had a nervous BREAKDOWN in ’36.
In ’43 he ran for Congress and was DEFEATED.
He tried again in ’48 and was DEFEATED again.
He tried running for the Senate in ’55. He LOST.
The next year he ran for Vice President and LOST.
In ’59 he ran for the Senate again and was DEFEATED.
In 1860, the man who signed his name A. Lincoln,
was elected the 16th President of the United States.

“The difference between history’s boldest accomplishments, 
and its most staggering failures is often, simply, 
the diligent will to persevere.”

Posted via email from douglasingram’s posterous

I Run Because…

So at midnight I got one of my every so often urges to hit the pavement.  With an incredulous stare from my wife and the obligatory “wear you’re reflective vest” – I hit the pavement.  Tonight was one of those unique nights where the steam seems to hover ever so slightly above your feet and the moonlight blends with the street lamps and moist air to create a hazy, mysterious glow around otherwise dull objects.  I felt particularly good tonight and could have ran forever it seemed but have to be up and at em’ in, uh… 4.5 hours now for an early morning meeting in Alpharetta.  The vacant streets and the black painted veil of silence conspired to set my mind spinning.  So, I do what I do best when I run, I had a conversation with myself (I love those).  The conversation was centered around a seemingly innocuous question, “why do I run?”.  Here is what I came up with.

I Run Because...
I Run Because...

I Run Because…

I like it

I also like beer

there are those that can’t

it makes me feel alive

you never know when it might be your last

I like to commune with myself

it helps me escape

I like to test my limits

I like to get lost

I fancy myself as a counter-culturalist

I always have

I like to get high 🙂

I want to be better

it makes me better

a man I most admire does

it doesn’t require a membership

its natural

its stretches you

it makes me better for those I care about most (see video)

… I could go on but these were a few that flowed freely on a really cool night for a run.

Also here is a great article from the NY Times on running – enjoy.

Exercising with the Family

Tri-Training with Kirsten

Quick post for me today. Recently my wife signed up for her first triathlon in June 2010. Like most things, she is highly disciplined and committed once she sets her mind to something. She got a little help during the weekdays so she could run, bike, swim, etc. and get ready for the big day. This has been going on for almost 3 months and she is doing great.

I’ve done a few triathlons of my own over the years and have been a runner / biker for more years than I care to count. In the past, this was kind of my thing. I had to steal time away during the evenings, weekends, etc. to get in a few miles. My older daughter has kind of gotta in to the routine as well and likes to do a 1/2 or 3/4 mile with me before I head out on my own route. As the kids get older this is increasingly harder to do but one of those things that I have to do. I, and my wife, have discovered I’m generally a much more agreeable and fun person when I exercise 🙂

Within the last few weeks my wife asked for my help in learning the fine “art” of clip-on pedals and gear changing. Anyone who has ever road-biked or mountain-biked can appreciate the complexities of trying to find the right gear as your losing momentum and heading up a gargantuan hill. I was happy to help and over the last few weekends have headed out to local parks with her and the kids to get in mileage and help get her ready. This included a pull-along cart for the kids that I termed the “roller-coaster” to help make the 1hr+ long ride more bearable in their minds. I, of course, got to carry the kids which made for an interesting bike ride. The closest parallel is running normally and then putting on a speed chute (running parachute) and trying to run. Basic ideas is it slows you down a bit. This actually helped me in that it made the ride more difficult and allowed all of us to get in a good workout.

Through these last few weekends I’ve increasingly gotten more and more excited about the possibilities of exercising as a family. What an awesome experience. What was once my “guilty” pleasure is now something that the whole family can get on board with.  More importantly, I look forward to the day when my little girls can start running, biking and maybe competing on their own.

I guess in short, over the last month or so my opinion on exercising with the family has changed dramatically. With some changes in equipment and schedules we have an activity that the whole family can enjoy now.

…and, oh by the way – today Kirsten (along with her motivational coach (me)) finished the full length sprint distance bike and run (pic included above).  I’m so proud of her!  She didn’t stop, not even once, and burned up the running portion averaging right around a 9 minute to 8:50 minute mile.  I’m most excited that my wife and I have now found a passion that we can enjoy together for many years to come.

The Parallels of Adventure Racing & Business

C4 Adventure Race Pic
C4 Adventure Race Pic

A few weeks ago, I participated in a small adventure race in Woodstock, Georgia (Northeast of Atlanta). It was put on by the YMCA of Cherokee County and was a bunch of fun (many thanks to YMCA and Toby Bramblett for their efforts in pulling the race together).  The format included trail running, mountain biking and kayaking with land navigation and various challenge obstacles mixed in.  The team structure included three person, two person and solo teams.  I participated as a single team (solo) and raced under the banner “Kenzie-Carr”… in tribute to my two little girls! 🙂

Leading up to the race, and especially during the race, I had much opportunity to reflect and be a bit introspective.  In fact, I had a bit too much time to reflect because the race was 18 miles and 4 hours of cold river and lake crossings coupled with copious amounts of mud, sweat and salt.

This reflection lead me to start drawing the parallels between adventure racing and life.  Attached are a listing of just a few of those parallels.  I guess it is these parallels and the mental challenge of laboring through pain, nausea, fatigue, etc. that really draws me to the support of adventure racing.

Parallels of Adventure Racing & Life:
  1. “Competition is always more intense than you believe” > No matter the race, I always have a false notion that somehow the competition is going to be lacking, non-existent, or unprepared.  However, with each race I complete, I am ever more mindful that there is always a tier of well-prepared, intense and driven competition that will not simply roll-over.   Business is very similar to this adventure race parallel.  No matter the business, or challenge, there is always a group, no matter how small, that will pose significant competition to you and is prepared to sweat, sacrifice and bleed on equal levels to your own. Believing that there is no competition or the competition is going to roll-over is a fallacy.
  2. “Don’t always follow the crowd…or at least be conscious that you’re doing it” > During the race I got into a segment of the course where the terrain was unfamiliar and my land navigation became quite lacking.  It was at this time that I started checking for another competitor that was making better progress than I.  I found an experienced team that clearly had a great level of background in this tedious portion of the course.   In effect, I began following the crowd.  In business, we often follow the crowd.  Call it “group think” or a similar derivative but the end-effect is the same, your in the shadow of some one else.  More importantly, when your following some one else, you are intrinsically linked to their fate.  In my case, the group I followed helped me find a key checkpoint that might have otherwise been elusive.  In business & life, we follow the crowd at times.  The key is to be conscious when you are doing it and recognize that eventually you have to step out of the collective shadow and into your own light.
  3. “Stuff happens..deal with it and frame it correctly” > We all know it happens, the real question is how will you deal with it.  In my adventure race all was going wonderfully until the final stage, kayaking.  The day had been filled with some very fast trail running and equally fast mountain biking.  Each of these stages included lots of river passes and mud bogs which resulted in some very frozen feet.  When I reached the transition area for the final leg I looked forward to a change of shoes and a nice dry pair of socks.  Being fully outfitted with dry wear, I grabbed my kayak and headed for the lake and my miles of paddling.  At the lake’s edge I was confronted with the scenario to walk in the lake and get my newly acquired dry feet apparel wet again, or try to do an awkward beach “push-off”.  The allure of dry feet was too much.  I decided the awkward, and in retrospect risky, beach “push-off” was the best bet for me.  With the grace of a sea lion,  I “pushed-off” from the beach and for a good few 3 seconds my feet were dry as the Sahara.  ….BUT… suddenly, unexpectedly, the kayak began to shake and wobble with the vigor of a stuck Sea Lion.  Suddenly, the kayak rolled & SPLASH.  In short, “stuff” had just happened to me.  I had 3 choices, (1) quit; (2) trade in my completely drenched clothes for semi-dry clothes at the transition station and burn 15 minutes; or (3) take a breath and jump in the kayak and paddle on.  I chose option #3.  Let’s face it, I was cold but had already been cold.  I chose to frame the optimistic view point which was I was nearly 70% done with the race and feeling great.  I excitedly pushed on and dried out pretty quickly.  In our daily business interactions we all know “stuff” happens.  I would argue that one of the things that separates an enduring enterprise from a short-lived one is how they view unexpected challenges and overcome them.
  4. “Try new approaches” > It’s easy to get bogged down in the application of the same methodology, or tools, that you have grown accustomed to and comfortable with.  Being able to recognize and appreciate that the “traditional” way may not be the best way is a critical aspect of success in any discipline.  For me, during the mountain biking portion I realized I had a mechanical. In essence, my bike wasn’t shifting right in the lowest of gearings.  I was forced to try a new approach.  Sometimes life and business force you to try a new approach.
  5. “Persevere – its easy to throw in the towel, but much more difficult to finish” > In life and in business, I have seen it all too often that a person or organization’s default response is to run for cover, throw in the towel or generally accept defeat.  Some people, more than others, have this as part of their standard “toolkit’ of life.  Too difficult = I’m going to do something else.  Probably one of the characteristics I like best about the adventure races I have been in is that they challenge you to dedicate, focus and persevere in order to finish.  My moment of this race was when I took an unplanned swim in Lake Allatoona on a very cold day in February (see item #3).
  6. “Challenge yourself” > Once in the race, I had the choice to just be a participant or to really try to push myself to my limits.  I think in business it is easy for organizations, teams and individuals to just participate.   They show up at the office, check some email, cup of coffee and on, and on, and on….  Businesses and team members should challenge themselves.  What is a new innovation that could springboard the company? Is there a new lead, new market opportunity or product enhancement that could be fast tracked?  Challenging yourself (or the business) is key to separating yourself from the pack and leading the charge instead of being just another passenger that is along for the ride.
  7. “Train & prepare for success” > I think the parallels here are pretty obvious.  Whatever the challenge, business or physical, you have to prepare for success through proper training and preparation. Too many times in business we enter into a competitive scenario without fully preparing ourselves or our organizations.  Members of a business organization have a propensity to believe that their competitors and their own organizations are static.  Worse yet, sometimes large organizations rely on their own perceived brand without realizing they need to always be “in training”.
  8. “Got to be in it to win it” > The last one is not only a cliche but also obvious.  However, this may be one of the most important parallels of all.  Too many times in business, as in life, we choose not to participate because the challenge is perceived as too taxing.  There are a thousand other cliche phrases I could use here.  Simply put, in life and business, a large part of your success is deciding to show up.
C4AR kayaking
C4AR kayaking

As for me, I was glad I showed up, challenged myself and got to go through the many emotions and physical challenges that make adventure racing such an awesome high!  I have several others races on the calendar in 2010 and look forward to continuing to get to know myself, my limits and having the opportunity to frame life differently and be truly appreciative for all that I have.