My marathon journey started in 2011 after I read Jack Canfield's "The Success Principles (TM): How to Get From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be." Canfield's first principle is that you must take 100 per cent responsibility for your life. While it sounds easy in theory, in execution it's difficult. We make excuses instead of taking ownership of things we can control.
Canfield also writes about the importance of keeping your commitments. For me, my lack of exercise was the biggest area I made excuses about, but had absolute control over. I wanted to commit to something out of my comfort zone. And to me, there was nothing scarier than running the NYC marathon.
Over the past three years, I have run over 1000 miles and three marathons all because I stopped making excuses and kept a commitment. Below are five things I took from my training that can easily be applied to any area in your business.
1. Keep your commitment. In business, you can't let difficult challenges prevent you from following through with a plan. In fact, you must use the hardship you face as the driving force to see the commitment through. It does not make the process any easier, but it does help give clarity to your end goal.
During training for my first marathon, I had knee injuries that almost stopped me in my tracks. During training for my second, I needed emergency surgery on an unrelated matter and it took four weeks to recover. This year has fortunately been filled with good news (including the birth of our third child), but the sleepless nights have not helped support a stellar training program. In addition to the the injuries and family responsibilities, my role as owner of a 30-person online continuing-education business would fill my entire day and then some if I let it.
What got me through these hard times was the commitment I made and my strong belief that I did not want to break it. Sometimes success can be that simple.
2. Have a clear goal and strong plan. Many entrepreneurs grow their businesses by using their gut and intuition. When you hit adversity, not having a plan isn't always the smartest choice.
A great thing about the marathon is that there is a clear goal of 26.2 miles and a proven training schedule. Since I didn't have to put any additional thought into the goal or plan, I was able to focus all my energy on being mentally tough enough to keep up with the 30+ mile weeks and any life challenges that got in the way.
It made me realize the stronger my convictions are in my business goals and in my plan to get there, the more mentally tough I will become.
3. Go in with the right mindset. As business owners, we focus on outside challenges such as raising money, managing a team or acquiring new customers. While all of these issues are important and need to be addressed, they do not hold a candle to the internal challenges that we face on a daily basis: stress, self doubt, negativity, loss of focus, blaming others, fear of failure, etc.
If you have the right mindset and a positive attitude, no outside force can stop you in your journey to success. When training for the marathon, I turned to inspirational speeches and videos that I could listen to while I ran. Without these videos playing in a loop, it would have been hard for me to get through some of the tougher moments. You should apply the same type of inspirational experience sharing to business. It allows you to take the 10,000 foot-view and work on the business instead of in it.
4. Run through the wall. In business, we come up against walls all the time. They key is having the right partner or mentor to help see you through it.
While training, I was told that after mile 20 the same thing happens in the marathon. It happened at mile 23 of my first marathon; I hit a wall. My feet were burning and my legs had shooting pains. All the signals in my body were telling me to stop running. But I was lucky enough to have a more experienced running partner who kept pushing me the additional 30 minutes. He motivated me and kept my focus on the finish line instead of the pain.
In business, we all can benefit from other people's expertise to get through the pain and hit our big goals.
5. Experience new things. Too often in life we get caught up in a daily routine. Luckily, as entrepreneurs, it's in our DNA to shake it up and learn new things. During training, I ran through almost every NYC neighborhood and found that I can develop a deep focus for hours on end. I read new books that inspired me, met new people and took part in over a dozen races.
I have transformed my mentality from someone who never ran further than 4 miles to a marathon runner. Now, the sky is the limit.
The question is, what will you do to shake things up in your life and business?
David Schnurman is a passionate entrepreneur whose primary focus is creating a collaborative environment where individuals can actively learn and share their knowledge. He is the founder of two e-learning companies, Lawline.com, and TrueNYC.com, an online website that features video interviews and advice from entrepreneurs.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.