This happened on my morning run…
It was about 9:30 on a Monday morning in mid-October. Not exactly the optimum time to be jogging through Midtown Manhattan. Not that any time is exactly optimum. But it was the only chance I had to get a run in before heading to the airport for my flight back home. I’d spent the previous three days in Vermont, learning from, and networking with, some of the most influential leaders in the real estate industry and was anxious to get back to my team and implement what I had absorbed. But at the moment, I was focused on sticking to my fitness plan and getting a solid workout in, weaving my way through the mass of humanity in front of me.
The runner’s high (I don’t know if it’s really a runner’s high, it’s just this state where I feel slightly less like I’m going to cry) was beginning to abate, bringing a rush of fatigue to the forefront when a lanky gentleman whizzed past me like a really clever analogy that I wish I could think of right now. He was wearing neon shoes and a shirt that read “Berlin Marathon 2018”. Working off the assumption that his fly-by was a personal attack on my credibility as man, and probably lover, I picked up my pace. Darting between pillars of scaffolding, ignoring the pleas of the crosswalk signals, I was in a dead sprint, desperate to reclaim my place among the titans of 9th Avenue morning cardio.
But, crossing 49th Street, the inevitable reared its stupid fucking face as the Slender Man was now just a southward bounding hat, still widening the margin while my lungs went into revolt. I came to rest in a slump against the exterior of a Pret A Manger, wondering just how severe the backlash would be in the running community. After all, I was just passed by a stranger on the street and barely had the capacity to keep him in view long enough to memorize his physical description so I could have accurate nightmares, surely I would be exiled, never to run again.
Then something happened. Something almost poetic. Hunched against the wall, pretending to stretch my calves outside that oddly named French sandwich place, I thought back to a quote I’d heard earlier in the week. “Don’t compare your Chapter One to someone else’s Chapter Twenty.”
I have no idea who said it, no one does. It’s like a Mother Goose rhyme, it just exists, probably. But it’s a profound concept and I’ve been rattling it off ever since. Who cares if a human salamander is faster than me. He won the Berlin Marathon for heaven’s sake! I’m a better runner than most, but I’m still at the beginning of my journey. Working hard towards Ironman Lake Placid next year and making improvements every day.
I don’t need the approval of some windperson to keep myself motivated and moving forward. And neither do you. Your journey, your battle, your story, it’s yours alone. And, if you’re honest with yourself, your probably don’t enjoy stories that don’t involve adversity. Can you imagine picking up a book about a guy who always had it all and things just get exceedingly better for him? Sounds terrible.
So, embrace it. Embrace the fact that you’re still early on in the book. You have the whole story to write. Stop trying to skip to the end and put in the time and effort to make it a best seller.
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It’s a weird dynamic, this relationship we have with failure. We love stories about it. No one likes a movie where the main character succeeds unchecked. We like the struggle, the adversity. It inspires us, reminds us of what’s possible. But that’s when someone else is the subject. That’s when someone else is going through it. When it comes to our lives, every failure makes us question how much we really value the outcome. How much do we really want to succeed?
The fact is, just about everyone desires to be in better shape, to be healthier in some way, and knows, with at least some certainty, the steps they need to take to accomplish their goals. Lack of education isn’t why we fail. But it’s also not because we set our sights too high. Most of us just want to look good in the mirror, that’s a completely realistic goal. If anything, we give up because we know we can do it.
It’s fundamentally difficult, with so much distraction and opportunity, to find the time to get it all in every day. To truly be productive and not just busy. So, what’s the solution? How do we get back to a place where we’re not constantly being pulled in a million different directions? Where the day doesn’t waste away behind the steady flow of new and completely irrelevant stimulants being thrown at us non-stop? The answer is simple addition by subtraction.
It’s understandable, in a world increasingly full of distraction, that it takes a near herculean effort to put our best foot forward in that department, but that doesn’t make the threat of wasted time any less real.
And while the battle for time efficiency may never cease entirely, there are plenty of safeguards we can implement to systematize our efforts.
Here are a few simple, practical ways to up your productivity and stave off waste.
It’s 3 A.M. and you’re doing that thing where you look at the clock and think about how many hours of sleep you’ll get if