I am not a runner. In fact, I don’t even like to run. Except for the occasional 400 meter (sometimes even 800m!) run as part of a CrossFit WOD, I do not run at all.
So why am I reading a book on running an ultra marathon? Because of the ultimate display of human spirit and persistence – one that you can apply to anything in your life.
This book, ‘Finding Ultra‘ by Rich Roll isn’t just about a man running an ultra marathon. It’s about a man who after years of neglecting his body and health, comes back to find himself again – find himself in his sport. Rich Roll tells an inspiring story of his journey to get to the fittest shape of his life – one that he undertook after turning 40 and deciding that enough was enough – Rich Roll didn’t just overcome years of inactivity – he overcame years of alcoholism.
As a life coach, I am constantly in the search for new tools and techniques for motivating my clients. How does an overweight, out of shape alcoholic morph into “one of the world’s twenty-five fittest men”? Why is it that some people cannot seem to manage to make even the smallest change in their lives and yet others can miraculously completely TRANSFORM theirs?
The key lies in the “state” that one is in. It turns out that there is nothing like hitting rock bottom to get you motivated to make a change. You have nothing to lose. You are already in such a bad state that the only way to go from here is UP. In Rich’s case, it was the eve of his fourtieth birthday and he was almost unable to climb the stairs in his house. That was his tipping point.
In my goal-setting workshops, I talk about this very tipping point. The point at which the goal is no longer a ‘should’. It’s a MUST. In Rich’s case, him not being able to climb the stairs disgusted him enough that that was it. You see, that is in fact the point you want to get to. Because at that point, you no longer require will power (something that we only have a limited supply of). It’s no longer a question of “if”, but “how”. You will find a way. You will MAKE a way.
So what does this tell us? Do we need to hit rock bottom before any change is possible? Not necessarily.
While you are more likely to be successful when you have nothing left to lose, in order to achieve a goal, a way of life, make a significant change…there are in fact a number of factors that come into play. Factors such as having a vision of the life you want, having strong enough reasons to push yourself through the challenge and most importantly, having someone on your side to help you stay motivated through the process – a coach, a family member or a friend.
Even with all the motivation in the world, we hit roadblocks. In fact, even in the book, there are several occasions when the author is struggling to keep going – where it’s hard to remember the reason for getting on the path in the first place. In his case, his wife proved to be his greatest ally – always there to keep him moving forward. In her words “pursue what’s in your heart, and the universe will conspire to support you.”
For me, the most inspiring segment of the book came when the author Rich crashes in his first ride of the 2009 season. As he was lying in the hospital bed thinking that it was time to quit doing this. The family was struggling financially and his training was coming in the way of being able to support his family. At this point, his wife Julie presented him with a question:
“So if that was it, would you be satisfied with how you’d pursued your life?”
As he lay there, he realized that even though he was risking death, there was no doubt in his mind that he was doing what he loved. Living imprisoned by fear only to die with regret over dreams postponed was a life that neither of them was interested in.
Rich Roll went on to complete the EPIC 5 – five iron distance triathlons, each on a different Hawaiian island, all in less than one week.
So I ask you, as you go about your daily lives:
If this were it, would you be satisfied with how you’ve pursued your life?