Sometimes we must repeat a lesson a few times to learn it well.
Running is like that for me. It teaches valuable insights I apply to my professional work, including how I coach sales leaders on revenue acceleration.
On the hottest, most humid day of summer last year, I thought I’d learned fully a hard lesson when I stuck with a difficult run, pushing on through oppressive heat and finishing…only after grudgingly making course corrections on the way.
But then in the final month of the year, I found myself running—unexpectedly—in the middle of a subtropical monsoon. Only then did I learn the rest of a valuable lesson about the relationship between perseverance and resiliency.
Perseverance as an output
Understand: neither I nor any of my running mates that day set out to run in hurricane-force rain and wind. Ask anyone who’s travelled through the Florida Keys in late Fall: weather conditions there can change both drastically and quickly. And boy did we ever find that out for ourselves!
It was calm and sunny when our group set out on our run. By the halfway mark, since I was making really good time, all I was focused on was seeing how fast I could finish.
I couldn’t possibly know at that point that my goal was about to be changed on me.
As conditions changed and that eerie yellow dark descended, my running mates and I were deep into our 6-mile course.
Turning back wasn’t an option.
Neither was changing course.
The only way out was to go through it.
Pushing against a relentless wind and a stinging sideways rain, we soon found we had to do much more than just lean into the elements.
Within minutes, we were running full-force: each bent forward at a near 45-degree angle, our heads pushing like battering rams to force a way forward. We all finished the course, safe, sound, soggy and more than just a little stunned by what we’d all experienced together.
We persevered because we had to. It wasn’t a resource we could have possibly known we’d have to draw on that day until we were in the thick of things. When perseverance comes to us an output, it teaches us how deep we are able to dig into ourselves when we least expect it.
Resiliency comes from our habits
Running is a habit, much like the business habits that all top performers engage day after day to achieve their goals. We repeat a series of daily activities. Initially we do it because we’re rewarded with meaningful gains. We get better at accomplishing goals and feel great while doing the work: short-term benefits that pay us over and over.
Only with time—connecting all those daily activities together—do we learn that those habits build our resiliency. Much like muscle. Using it, we discover how we can bend without breaking.
Being disciplined on all those calm, sunny monsoon-free days teaches you how to make a practice out of being a top performer. You get better at it, step by step.
Whether you’re pulling off the warm covers and putting on your cold running shoes at 5:00AM even when it hurts, or you’re making each and every one of your follow-up calls to prospects even when it’s hard: you are flexing your resiliency muscle.
You bend, never breaking.
You engage a practice that does more than just reward you with better results: it prepares you, too.
The hard work of dedicated habit positions you properly for the day when—out of nowhere—the heavens open up on you.
That’s the day you will find yourself with the resources and willpower you never knew you had to persevere with resilience and grace while you grow and thrive.