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Friday, June 27, 2014

Letting Your Environment Support Your Dreams

So in the past, I have always talked about how we need steps to get to our goals, and from one goal to another, work towards our dreams... however, we still fail to grasp that and do not take the steps required to achieve our goals.  How is it that we understand what steps we need to take, yet fail to follow through and work towards that?

It's because we lack the foundation that supports us to our goals.  We do not have a system that pushes us forward.  In order to achieve your goal, you need to change your environment to being able to support you instead of push you down.  Friends family, house, finances... everything can either help or hurt you.  The thing is, whether we truly understand it or not, there are things that will bring you closer to your goals, and there are things that will take you away from these goals.  The little things that occur in your everyday life is your environment.  Should your environment be supportive, you will have a higher chance of success in achieving your dreams.  However, should your environment not be supportive, you may end up having a rough time taking steps towards your dreams.

In having an environment that not only allows us to push forward, but also pushes us, we create a system where we can only press on towards our goals.  For example, should an individual want to become healthier, a simple way to create an environment that supports his or her goal would be to simply throw away unhealthy snacks that are in their homes.  I always like to tell myself, "no temptation, no sin" and that's served me well when working towards my goals.

So how can we create an environment that would support us and help us get to our goal?  Can we find a one size fits all solution to our problem?  Well... unfortunately, there is no 'one size fits all' solution because we are all unique and react in different ways to various catalysts.  However, I believe there could be a few guidelines that would help anyone create this self supported environment.

First of all, we can divide what is in our lives into two parts.  First, there's the things that helps us or supports us towards our goal.  Then, there's the things that prevents us from achieving our goals.  It could be a habit, it could be a family member... it could be anything.  In order to create this ideal environment that would support you, you have to add habits that supports you, take away habits that prevents you from achieving your goals.  In order to do that, you must put away the material objects that would remind you of things that prevents you from progressing while adding material objects in your life that would encourage you to go towards your goal.  If it's family, you need to insure that whatever they do, they ought to be supportive of you and your goals instead of being distant... or perhaps you need the space and need their distance in order for you to achieve your goals.

Basically, in order to achieve your goals and create an environment that supports you, it is IMPORTANT that you know yourself.  The more you know about yourself and how you work, the more you can change the environment around you to support you as you take the steps towards your goals.  As you find more about who you are and how you work, your strengths as well as your weaknesses, you can manipulate the things around you so that making the best choice becomes the only option.

Whether it be losing weight or acing a test, it's important that you have an environment that supports you.  The more supportive the environment is, the easier it is to stay on the path towards your dreams.  Create an environment that urges you to grow, that provides energy for you to push on, to support you in whatever way you need to get to where you want yourself to be.

Monday, June 23, 2014

3 Steps to Becoming an Effective Leader

There is a difference between being an average leader and an effective leader.  The circle of influence of the effective leader far greater than that of the average leader.  With a larger circle of influence, there is a greater impact, and with a positive impact, one can change the entire world.

As a runner, I really want to encourage those around me to live a healthy lifestyle (not necessarily just running) as well as motivating others to achieving their dreams... and I wondered how could I do better?  I figured that there are a lot of people that do what I do and inspire others, but only a few actually stood out as an effective leader.  I yearned to be like one of those who were able to touch the lives of millions of people.   I desired the charisma of the leaders that blew the minds of the people and impacted lives and brought hope to those that needed it... and I came across these 3 steps.

First.  You need to understand the current situation as it is.  Where you are now is very important because if you don't know where you are now, how are you to know where you're wanting to go or how to get there?  In understanding the current situation as it is, you give yourself the starting point, the materials you have, and live in this real world.  You're not underestimating yourself and what you have, because then your dreams you want to achieve will become smaller.  You don't overestimate yourself and what you have because then your dreams will be too big and impossible.  You go with what you have.  That way, you can focus clearly on the next step.

Second.  You need to have a vision.  In having this vision, you use the knowledge of the here and now to focus on the endless possibilities you can do with it, and work towards your goal.  Without an end goal, you will end up unfocused and working towards several things that you never had to work on, but with an end goal, you can focus all your time and effort towards that vision, and wisely work your way to taking the steps needed in order to accomplish that.  Make the vision as real as you can.  Understand what you need to do to reach that and plan things out.  Realize what's possible with the different materials and talents you are given in the beginning and connect everything together to create a path to your dreams.

Third.  You need to take the steps.  What good is it to have a road-map to success if you're not going to use it?  The thing is, even if you put so much work in creating the perfect plan... if you don't execute it, nothing happens.  A leader needs to not only understand the current situation and create a vision.  A leader ought to take the steps towards making it happen.  In taking the steps, the leader puts him/herself in the front lines, works towards that vision, and as they take those steps forward to making their dreams come true, the leader will attract those who believe in the same thing and naturally will follow the one with a clear vision and work towards making it a reality.

The thing is, there are an awful lot of people working towards a bunch of goals.  Some of them don't understand the first step and therefore their vision becomes tainted and not as good as it could be.  Others will not create this clear vision and work towards a series of goals and waste their time, energy, and money on some projects that they didn't need to work on.  Still others will not take the steps to working towards their goals and have others do the work for them.  In doing so, things will get done... but it becomes a passionless progress, not as fast and not as effective.

In working with these 3 steps, it is possible to become an effective leader that can impact the world... and here's the kicker.  Effective leaders cannot quit.  In being an example, in being an inspiration, we are part of what gives hope to those around us.  Should we stop... should we quit... that gives the people around us a reason to quit.  As an effective leader, we shoulder the responsibility of not just ourselves and our dreams, but also of those around us.  There are always people following what we do, and they are encouraged by our accomplishments, so understand that there will be a time when we feel like quitting.  There will be a time when you don't feel like progressing....  However, as an effective leader, we need to prevail because we may be what gives hope to another individual as they work towards their dreams.

Effective leaders aren't effective because they just follow these 3 steps.  Effective leaders are effective because no matter what happens, they choose to push on towards their dreams, making the impossible possible, and giving hope to those around them.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Lakeshore Trail Trek 16 Miler

Considering that my first trail race was the 50 mile race in Atlanta, this 16 mile race was very different.  It was fast, and I was experienced.  Since my first trail race in 2011, I've gotten my fair share of trail running, and as I've been working on my speed since getting sick at Black Mountains, I felt ready for this race.  The Thursday before the race, I did a trial road run of 16 miles, 8 miles out and 8 miles back.  I did the first half in exactly an hour, and on the way back, I was able to finish it in under 52 minutes.  With this, I knew that for the race, it would be possible for me to finish the 16 mile race in under 2 hours.  However, after Friday's downpour, I was a little worried that the trail would be muddied and harder to run.  Saturday morning arrived and I woke up and drove over to the start of the race, and met up with my friends from Haw Ridge, and we talked about how I need to watch out for this bearded guy.  Wearing my wonderful Asics Gel Lyte 33 2, I was ready to rock the field.

The race was a 9ish mile out and back followed by a 7ish mile out and back, and the first part of the race involved climbing up a bridge and going across... it was definitely different than the other races I've done, and for the first mile, I led the pack.  I talked to a couple of the guys behind me and learned that two of them had marathon times of 2:44 and 2:54, which meant that they were definitely good road runners (faster than my own 2:56), and figuring out who I was up against, I decided that the best thing that I could do was to race my race.  I dropped back and went down to 4th place, where I begin the real warm up of the race, and then as time went on, little by little, I started to pick up the pace.  Between mile 3 and 4, I passed the person who was in 3rd, and little by little gained on the 1st and 2nd place runners.  At a little past 4 miles, there was a part of the race where you have to go over a fence, and that's where I caught the two runners and paused because we weren't sure what we were suppose to do.  By the time the runner I passed came, I stood on the fence and figured out that that was the direction we were suppose to go, and leading the pack, I went to the water station, dropped off my water bottle, and decided that I would start taking the race from then on, as seriously as I could.

On the return trip, I had previously heard the top runners talk about how they had wasted 30 seconds figuring out what the course was, I figured that I would need to beat them by a minute to make the victory feel real.  I had one runner running right behind me at that point, and I had the "Happy" song going in my head keeping the beat (must have been on the radio) and little by little, I pulled away, and as I passed my teammates, they all cheered me on, which encouraged me to continue the effort.  With switchbacks and rolling hills, the pace was never constant, but with the experience from Haw Ridge and all the other trail races I've done, it wasn't really a set back.  Whenever I could pick it up with the same effort, I would pick it up, and whenever I needed to slow down... I would slow down.  Every so often, I would pretend that there was someone coming up behind me, so that would jolt me forward with renewed energy, but other than that, it was a nice run all the way back to the start.

After climbing back over the bridge and getting to the starting area, I stopped to drink a little water and dump the rest on my head.  Talked to Tony for a little bit, and off I went.  For a little bit, it was roads and though I was faster, changing from trails to roads really was something different, and I felt it in my legs.  As I met up with the 8 mile finishers, we cheered each other on, but as I got faster and faster, the words of encouragement changed from a sentence to a phrase, but I was finishing the course as fast as I possibly could, and I knew I'd have to push the end if I wanted to make it under 2 hours.  After going through the trails to the aid station which was less than half way (because on the way back, we would add a few longer loops in the mix), I drank a little bit and dumped the rest on my head and said goodbye and thanks to the workers and started my return.

I wasn't sure how much I was ahead of the group behind me, but I wanted to make sure that it would be as large of a gap as I could possibly make it, and after a minute or so, I met up with the 2nd place runner, Bob Adams, who was headed towards the aid station.  As he is a very fast runner, I knew that a few minutes was something that he could definitely get back, and so that made me want to go even faster... which I did.  I passed by the other guys and then my teammates, as I zipped through the course, and being glad that I had the energy to run fast (since it was only 16 miles) I knew that the only thing that'll stop me is if I ran too fast and tired out my muscles... but the clip I was going at was decent and my cadence was strong, and I knew that as I got closer to the beginning, that I had a real decent chance at getting under 2 hours.  I was a little worried when I had about 10 minutes left and I wasn't sure exactly how far I was from the start, so I did pick it up even more, but as soon as I hit the road, I knew that I would be able to finish strong and achieve my goal of running under 2 hours.  In fact, as I finished, I saw that I had 3 minutes to spare!  Being a trail course and not having done any research on it, I was happy with my 1st place finish with a time of 1:56:53.

Top 3 Overall

Sho Gray        1:56:53
Bob Adams    2:00:54
Jesse Fine       2:04:44

Male and Female 1st place Finishers!!

Overall, it was a very fun race, well organized, and enjoyed the people that ran in it.  I'm looking forward to next year and see if I can lower the course record~  Definitely pumping me up for the 24 hour race coming up in July!!  (and happy that now I can just run slowly and not work on my speed~ haha)

You put in hard work and persevere, the results will follow.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

On Responsibility

"With great power comes great responsibility."

That famous line from Spiderman has been repeated a little too much... but there is truth in what that line says.  The people who hold power holds a lot of responsibility that affects people's lives... and usually it's immediate.  But I kind of find it funny to see that if we turn it around, we get, "With great responsibility comes great power," because it's true.  If you take on the responsibility of something great, with that you can hold that great power.

So what are we responsible for?  Honestly, we can be responsible for any number of things.  From jobs to homework, from children to adults.  However, we forget the most important thing we must always be responsible for.  We forget the importance of ourselves.  We are responsible for ourselves first before we can be responsible for anyone else.

What good is it if we are financially irresponsible for ourselves and we attempt to help someone who is in a financial bind?  Why would someone ask you for advice on training if you have a lazy lifestyle?  It is imperative that we are able to help ourselves first before we can help others.  Instead of putting yourself further in debt by helping another person financially, shouldn't you be helping yourself get your finances in order so that you would be able to help more that need the help?  Would it not be better for you to get yourself in shape before you go out and train other people?

Although we daily make an impact to the people around us, we ought not to forget our responsibility for our own growth, because in growing and bettering ourselves, the impact we make to the people around us has exponentially increased towards a positive direction.

The reason I speak of responsibility now is because whether we like it or not, we do have responsibilities.  We impact people.  We influence people.  We help mold the world through the small meetings we have with one another.  The classmate who you helped up when he fell... he could become a great neurosurgeon, saving lives.  The person you smiled at and asked how their day was... she could become a mayor... we just don't know who we're going to impact.  We don't know how they're going to turn out... but when you build yourself into a person of great character, an individual that leaves others better than when they first met them... you do make a difference.  You do carry that responsibility... as well as the power.

If we take responsibility and take care of ourselves, we create an opportunity to grow, thus allowing us the privilege of serving those around us... a responsibility which lets us truly live.

It's not being selfish that allows us to care for others, it's the simple fact that you can't serve if you have nothing to give.  Continue to fill yourself up as you fill the lives of others.  Just as you may put the responsibility on yourself to serve the people around you... make sure to not forget to serve yourself.