The start of a New Year is a great time to review and plan your life. Are you just going along for the ride? Are you making the same mistakes over and over again? Perhaps it’s time to get going or to give up. Looking back and forward at life can motivate you to do just that. My reflections may trigger some of your own.
This past week I was rude and brave. Allow me to tell the stories.
On Christmas Eve I went to a car dealer to assist my daughter to purchase her first car. After being informed of the interest rate on the loan, I decided to call my bank to see if we could get a better rate. The person I needed to speak with was on the phone. Did I want to wait or call back? “I’ll wait,” I informed the person who answered the phone, “I’m at a car dealer and need a loan rate.”
A few minutes later she came back on the line. “He’s still on the phone,” I was told, “do you want to keep waiting?” “Yes.” And so I waited, and waited, and waited. After about 15 minutes I hung up and called back, only to be informed that the person I was waiting for had just left for the day and that the bank was closing early due to the holiday. “Well, that’s not very professional!” I said sarcastically • which secured an apology but no loan rate.
How could I be so rude? Hadn’t I just finished writing a Provisions’ series on being nice? And on Christmas Eve no less! This was a day that I wasn’t working at all. But I wanted these people at their posts, at my beck and call, and when they handled something poorly I became dismissive and demanding.
Has that ever happened to you? Have you ever acted in a way that’s out of sync with your values and your highest aspirations? I did that on Christmas Eve, even though I wasn’t feeling particularly upset on the inside about the mix up on the outside. I just laid into somebody when I had the chance. It was not a NICE thing to do. It was not Neighborly, Interested, Compassionate or reflective of proper Etiquette • especially in the presence of others at the car dealership.
I had to laugh when the car saleswoman said, “Don’t let this ruin your day. It’s really not that important to what we have to do here.” “That’s my job,” I thought, “coaching people into a better place to be.” Since that time I’ve gone back to make some apologies • only to learn that people had not been that upset by the whole encounter. Apparently, when it comes to customer service, rude is par for the course.
Yesterday I ran my first Ultra Marathon. An Ultra Marathon is anything longer than a marathon (which is 26.2 miles or 42.2 kilometers). In 18 degree Fahrenheit (-8 degree Celsius) weather, with a pretty stiff wind chill, I completed the Huntington Ultra Frigid Fifty in Huntington, Indiana (http://www.fwtc.org/huff).
This particular race was the 2001 USA Track & Field National 50K Championship. But it was certainly more than 50K. We ran three 10.8 mile loops around the Huntington reservoir, for a total of 32.4 miles or more than 52.2K. My first two loops were on pace for a six-hour finish. But I slowed down at the start of the third loop, not knowing what to expect after passing the marathon distance, and I ended up walking a good bit of the last few miles. My finish time, including 8 stops along the way that totaled about 30 minutes, was 6 hours, 37 minutes.
So what made this brave rather than crazy? It was certainly a rather spur-of-the-moment decision. I had not been specifically training or gearing up for this event. But some running buddies were going and my running plans for 2002 were changing such that it now made sense to give this thing a try. I’ve been running well, with no physical problems, and my last marathon (Raleigh, North Carolina) was 28 days ago • what better time to peak in my “training” for an Ultra Marathon?
Off I went, a little apprehensive but nevertheless BRAVE. It was Bold (your first try at any new venture is always bold), Responsible (I had put enough training miles, even if I had not trained specifically for this distance), Active (I had to get myself out of the house and drive several hours to get to the starting line), Versatile (I changed my racing strategy to a totally relaxed, laid back, fun-run attitude) and Enduring (running further than I ever had before).
Endurance is, of course, what an Ultra Marathon is all about. As Ultra Marathons go, this one was a baby. People run races of 100 kilometers, 100 miles, and more. Whereas there are definite limits to how fast a person can run, there seem to be no limits to far a person can run. As soon as someone crosses an endurance threshold, someone else will come along and double it. Or triple it.
These races bring into focus the central question of human existence. “What makes a person go?” asks Kirk Johnson in To the Edge, “What makes a person run, climb, try hard or even get up in the morning, and what makes him stop?” “Most of us, most of the time, occupy lives in a river that carries us along, for better or for worse, in rhythms that are outside our control. The flow of jobs and commitments and family life and friends rolls on • it’s natural and easy to let the march of days push us forward as it will.”
But sometimes, on occasion, people step out of the flow. They choose what Robert Frost once called “the road less traveled.” Instead of gaining weight, they lose weight. Instead of giving up, they get going. Instead of grinding out another day, they stop to chart a new course. And that, as Frost concluded, makes all the difference.
There’s no better time than now, at the start of a New Year, to review and plan your life. Are there things, like my being rude on Christmas Eve, that you’d like to eliminate? Are there challenges, like running stronger or farther, that you’d like to take on? Whether it is with a coach or on your own, may you step out of the river at least once during 2002. Get going or give it up. Do something different for a change. Find what you really love and embrace it fully. You’ll be glad you did.
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Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Reader’s Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. These selections do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. They do reflect the diversity of those who read Provisions each week for support and strength on the trek of life. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Form or Email Bob.
I really appreciated the “learning to walk” analogy. My son is just now on the verge of taking his first steps. It gives you much to reflect upon, especially in the midst of learning new skills of your own. I am a personal trainer and when one of my clients complains about feeling clumsy with a new movement, I always say “How fun would it be if you were born being able to do everything perfectly? This is new for you; of course you’re going to be clumsy.”
I am also a project manager at a financial services company and I took your BRAVE acronym and passed it out to my team, as something for the New Year. I gave you credit for it, and it might lead to more subscribers. Thanks for the ponderables.
I have a question…is flaxseed oil also effective? (Ed. Note: Flaxseed oil is better than nothing, but it’s not as good as freshly ground flaxseeds. You do not get as many of the health benefits from the oil alone. If you want to take the oil, be sure to purchase small, dark bottles and keep it refrigerated in order for it to be as fresh as possible. Take 1 Tablespoon in the morning and another in the evening, with meals.)
Please add me to your subscription list. I would very much like to participate in your idea sharing. Thanks.
May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.
Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC
President, LifeTrek Coaching International, www.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformation, www.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coaching, www.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a Time, Online Retailers
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