Darkness. A chill. An amber-colored glow spreads sluggishly through the mist-filled air. The path ahead is shrouded in a fog. Impatient breath puffs out into visible tufts to the left and right. The silence is so heavy it is as if the fog has obscured sound as well as sight. In the air hangs tension, filled with misgivings and doubt.
“On your mark! Get Set! Go!”
It’s an hour yet until dawn and the pack of trembling runners quickly begins to splinter. Some fall tense-faced into a striving pace that sends the inner workings of their lower back into a resentful burning that will not be quenched for many days. They pull in heavy, thick, air that stabs at their lungs and gives nothing back. They must try their hardest; they have to run for two whole miles.
Some have already began to gasp and plod. Though they have only run for a minute, they are already defeated. Their feet slap the pavement –plat, plat, plat, plat. Excuses and reasons flood their minds, listing off all the reasons why today was just not the right day for the task at hand. How could they ever hope to run for the entire two miles, given the situation?
A few runners are slipping silently through the strivers and the plodders. Gliding shoulder to shoulder, they are like a wolf’s pack, legs synchronized and bodies relaxed, because the lope of a jungle wolf “ . . .eats up long miles like fire.” They duck in and out between the other runners, always returning to their pace after each obstacle.
After all, they are only running two miles.
Which type of runner are you in your career and business? Do you have hard-charging weeks in which you could easily accomplish your yearly goals in a month if you just kept the pace? Do you have weeks of, “I am never going to be able to get my sales up! The market is just too bad right now”?
In 2013, Psychologist Angela Lee Duckworth gave a TED talk titled, “The key to success? Grit,” that has been viewed over 5 million times, and translated into 40 languages. Duckworth asserts that the predictor of success is not high IQ, or even social intelligence. The key is grit.
Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality. Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint. (Duckworth, 2013)
Never has this type of tenacity been more essential to achieving success as a micro-business owner or entrepreneurial thinker.
While Steven Pressfield’s War of Art is one of the best reads on developing your tenacity and turning pro (and I urge you, via affiliate link, to take a look at The War of Art) here are:
5 ways to start developing your tenacity today
Two Targets are Better than One
Every organization needs a mission, even if you are an organization of one. By having a big-picture goal to strive for, you can fine-tune your daily actions to work in your favor, rather than living by chance. Yet having a larger mission isn’t always enough. Try setting long-term goals and super-short-term goals. Having a one-year-goal to land five premium clients doesn’t feel immediate enough to spur radical action. High Performance Coach Todd Herman is famous for breaking down his client’s year into a series of 90-day sprints. While 90 days is more motivating than a full year, try breaking your 90-day goals into ten-day mini-sprits. You’d be surprised how much more real your goals seem when you only have ten days to accomplish them.
Don’t only think about, talk about, write about or even read about your goals. All of these actions are word-centered. Get visual with your goals. What would it look like ta achieve you career and business goals this month? What would that success bring into your life that you would otherwise miss out on? Create a detailed mental image of success in your mind, then capture it in your environment! Color impacts the way we feel and the way we act. Never go a day without seeing a visual reminder of your goals in color. Jotting down a to-do-list on the back of an envelope and sticking it on the mirror just won’t cut it for big, powerful goals.
Know You Can Grow
Stanford University researcher Carol Dweck developed the idea of a “growth mindset”.
“ . . . it is the belief that the ability to learn is not fixed, that it can change with your effort.”
Learning doesn’t have to come from a professor in a university. By developing an intentional daily habit of taking in new, useful information, you raise you ability to ask better questions and keep a greater competitive edge. Research has also shown that your information-intake doesn’t have to be directly centered on your business or your market to benefit you. Open your mind to an idea you’ve never considered every day. TED talks are a great antidote to the daily buzz of useless information competing for our attention daily. If you prefer to read books, here are a few of my favorites.
Immerse Yourself in the Moment
Being fully present in a situation is counter-intuitive. Why go through an event and focus on the bad side of it when you can grit your teeth, get through it and hope it never happens again? The problem is, bad situations do happen again and again. Some of us endure them, some, like serial entrepreneur Basil Peters, build an entire career around them. When his company, Nexus engineering suddenly failed, he barely got out of the business without catastrophic losses. Instead of counting his losses and walking away, Peters leaned in, becoming an expert on knowing when its time to exit a business. Now Peters’ professional credentials center around his hard-won knowledge of “Exit Strategies’” which have become the joy of his career. When the going gets tough, try leaning in to the difficulty and learning all you can about it. Why go through the same lesson multiple times when you can graduate to more intriguing problems . . . like having too much money without knowing where to invest it.
Run with Your Pack
Lastly, to engage your tenacity and reach your objectives, seek out like-minded people and groups. Being the last of your kind can be a tough profession. If your social circles don’t include anyone with similar drives and passion – or even higher passion than you – it’s time to do some homework. Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and even Twitter can be excellent places to dig up a support group tailored to your business or career goals. Don’t be afraid to approach your Chamber of Commerce to ask about other businesses in your area of interest. If you have taken time to target your market and determine what makes you unique, there’s a good chance that the businesses and individuals that at first glance seem like competition, may actually be an excellent source of encouragement, camaraderie and referrals.
Staying the course when daily operations feel like running in a hamster wheel is tough. By setting clear, visual goals, growing your knowledge base daily, leaning in to adversity and seeking out allies, you can get off the treadmill and start gaining some traction in your race to success.
If you are ready to dream big dreams and set powerful goals for the next 90 days, drop me a message, subject line, “Goals”. Looking forward to hearing from you!