The First Two Miles: 4 Strategies for Surviving the Start
I have been a semi-avid runner for the last fifteen years. Over the years running has become a way for me to pray, reflect, learn and listen. I do everything from prepare for an important meeting to dance to my favorite new song while I’m running. (Cue JT’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling!”) And most importantly running is justification for eating more sugar than I ought. My motto is, “I run for treats.”
But for all the things I enjoy about running I still hate the beginning.
Even after fifteen years and roughly 10,000 miles logged (including several half marathons), I still feel like I want to quit during the first two miles OF EVERY RUN!
It takes this long for my body to settle in, for my mind to settle down and for everything to start working together more fluidly. And if I don’t remind myself of this I will get frustrated and sometimes even quit. Too many times I’ve forgotten this principle and I’ve given up with excuses that, “I’m just too tired,” “something must be wrong… maybe I’m sick,” or “maybe I’m just not cut out for running anymore,”
This principle not only applies to running. It also applies to most of the challenges we face in life. For the last six months I’ve been working on the development of The 4 Sight Group. While I’m incredibly passionate about equipping leaders with the foresight for extraordinary outcomes, the beginning stages of starting a new organization are challenging. I’m in the first two miles. It’s easy to want to give up. It’s hard work. Not all the systems run smoothly. I wonder if I’m really cut out for this.
If you find yourself in the early stages of something… maybe it’s a new project, a new relationship, a new job… here are a few things to remember.
- Don’t be alarmed when it’s harder than you expected. The reason why we start new things is because we have a vision. We see potential. Don’t lose sight of that vision when the reality of what it takes sets in. Stay the course and remember the two-mile principle.
- Don’t quit in the first two miles. Before you start your new endeavor, anticipate when to expect resistance. Every new start has a few moments of bliss but inevitably it takes a turn. You encounter a problem, you have your first fight, you have a difference of opinion with a coworker. Anticipate this ahead of time so that it doesn’t blindside you.
- Build a support team. You need people who will remind you of why you need to keep going. When my friend Rachel and I ran half-marathons together, she would write her name all over her t-shirt so that those watching the race would cheer her on by name. It was brilliant! As she ran, she constantly heard people cheer, “Go Rachel go!”. Make sure you have friends, mentors and allies who will cheer you on during the difficult days.
- Plan your reward. You need to have something to look forward to when you make it through the difficult points. Before you begin, determine when and how you’ll celebrate. I approach every single day by building my schedule with some of my most challenging work early in the day and finishing with something I enjoy like reading a book, taking a walk with a friend or enjoying my favorite cup of tea. Whatever the project you’re facing, give yourself something to look forward to.
Leaders do hard things. We’re often charting new territory. It’s difficult and demanding. This is what we do. We lead the way so that others can follow more easily. Don’t let early resistance defeat you. Stay the course!