“OMG… I am drowning in this proposal!”
I had been working on it too intensively and for too long. I didn’t even know what I was trying to say anymore. I needed a break. I needed to close my computer and distract myself. The best, and sometimes the only way for me to do this, is by going on a long, hard run. I change and lace-up my running shoes. “This is going to be great”, I think to myself as I head for the door.
Of course, at the beginning of the run I am still trying to work out that one key piece for the proposal that just won’t come together. But eventually, my mind calms and settles. I am in my own world now and the proposal is far away. And then it hits me... Out of nowhere, the answer to the problem I have been having with the proposal comes to me.
This happens quite a bit. I tend to run around in the hamster wheel on a topic and make it so complex that I have no idea where to start to solve it. No matter how hard I think or how long I work, I can’t seem to crack it. Mentally, I can’t get off the wheel and my mind keeps going in circles.
What I have learned is that it is not the problem so much as the mindset that I need to crack. When I am able to solve or resolve some of these “complicated issues”, 9 times out of 10 it happens when I am running. Without even trying, I am at my creative best when I run. Why? Well, when I run…
I feel strong
I feel smart (there is scientific evidence of an oxygen boost to the brain, so maybe I am smarter)
I get creative
I get basic
I get positive
I get perspective, space…
Much like the theory of marginal gains employed by elite athletes, I feel that the multiplier effect of all these “small” factors that occur when I run, creates a huge competitive advantage for me in the moment.
Mindset for me is critical in so many areas of life. If I had to focus on only one area to work on in my coaching practice, it would be mindset. Because if I can control my mindset, I am in control of my most powerful asset – my mind. One of my favorite quotes comes from the Koran, where Muhammad makes it clear that the greatest jihad is the struggle to control one's own self, our own inner demons. There is beauty in this holiest of struggles. There is also something deeply human about the quest for self management, self knowledge, self control and ultimately self improvement.
Running quiets my mind enough for me to regain control of it. And in doing so, in a very counter intuitive way, this leads me to the kind of freedom that spawns...greatness. Or at least the answer to the question of the moment, which on most days is more than enough.