It’s a place to rest, not quit.
“I can’t get up.”
Those words rang in my head, in a voice that sounded much like my own. I was gasping for air. Heart pounding and desperately thirsty, I laid on the floor of my apartment, searching for the strength to get up.
“I bet if I broke my foot off in your ass you’d get up!”
“No, imaginary drill sergeant. I’d just be tired four feet over there. I can’t get up.”
“Can’t never could do anything, son.” My dad’s voice this time “You can get up, you’re just tired. Laying there is more comfortable.”
He was right. I could get up, but damn, my abs were sore. Laying there was comfortable. I took about a week off from working out, and now I was paying for it. I thought surely cramming the last five days of strength training and cardio into one session would make up for my laziness.
My decision seemed a lot less smart twenty minutes in. I was tired already and my dad’s advice from years ago reminded me that I had only reached that 40% plateau. It’s the first wall we hit. We, from initial enthusiasm and energetic will power, go as fast as possible in the first available direction when the first real obstacle comes up. Bam, face first.
We hit that wall. It stops being exciting. It stops being fun. It’s hard work and it’s tiring and we want to quit.
And that’s exactly where I was: on the floor, attempting to bring my water from across the room by sheer willpower. My telekinesis wasn’t working either.
I’m there in my entrepreneurial journey as well.
That 40% plateau looked different. I was getting things going. Making real progress.
The website, social media, connections, everything. Then I was approached by my friend and long time customer. He offered me a sales position at his dealership. Porsche. I could easily make six figures.
But if I sell my dream, what’s the difference between doing it for six figures or two?
I couldn’t take the position. I turned down the opportunity of a lifetime. I told my friend “No” because I don’t like doing sales. I’d rather teach. And I’d rather teach the science behind relationships and how business owners can use it to turn prospects into brand ambassadors. And I’d rather teach it to the guys at Porsche.
That’s when I hit the wall. When he told me Porsche doesn’t usually bring in outside consultants, it was a disappointment to say the least. It seemed as though everything else had come to a halt so fast, I could almost hear the cyber-screech. My web developer had to take some weeks off. My fiverr was doing nothing. Very little engagement in social media, and none of it was turning sales.
I remember running on two different occasions.
My first, as a junior in high school. I was a fat kid, but loved soccer and felt reasonably comfortable enough in my athletic ability to try out for the JV team. The first requirement seemed obvious enough, make sure we could run. One and a half miles, in thirteen minutes.
It was only six laps. My undeveloped mind did not yet understand the idea of pacing oneself, or the importance of stretching, warming up — any of the normal, pre-run activities. My brain understood two things: racing, and impressing coach LeVine.
Ready, set, and gone. I took off like a rocket. I ran as fast as I possibly could, and two thirds of the way around the track I realized I couldn’t breathe very well. And my legs hurt, bad. Like, they don’t want to do this anymore. Neither did my lungs. My everything hurt. I had to finish, though. I was first.
“No, no you’re not finishing.” my legs said.
“Yeah we’re done too”, “I’m out”, “we’re done”…my body said no. That was a dumb idea and we’re not doing it anymore. As I sputtered across the starting line, I ran off to the side, found Coach LeVine and said, “Coach, I’m sorry. I don’t know why I thought this was a good idea.”
And I walked off the field.
My second running memory was formed in a battalion run at the end of basic training.
The battalion commander thought it would be a good idea to take the lot of us on a six mile run in the cool December evening weather Missouri has to offer. (Read cold.
Not the regular cold that comes when it snows, but the kind of dismal, wet cold that only comes from running six miles in an accordion like fashion through the back of Fort Leonard Wood.)
My friend Robie was in my platoon and happened to be behind me in the run. We were almost finished, but had another mile and a half or so left when he felt done. We were in formation, battalion formation. There would be no end to the proverbial shit storm that would be rained upon us from literally every drill sergeant in the battalion if we broke formation. It wasn’t an option. It was a considerable challenge given the nature of several hundred soldiers running “together”. Cadence calling helped, but only so much for Echo Company, third platoon, the near end of the formation. Only fourth platoon, their drill sergeant, our drill sergeant, Top, the XO, CO, and of course our BCO were behind us.
I told Robie to hold onto my jacket and not let go. Just keep pace for one more step. He did, and we made it in.
I relate these two experiences because they demonstrate the vast difference in results between quitting when we hit that wall, and merely resting. Or in this latter instance, pacing oneself.
When I tried out for JV soccer, I was excited and inexperienced. I hit that wall fast. It hurt and I quit.
In the Army, I was better trained, properly warmed up, fed and equipped. I had a standard to uphold and people depending on me. As well as consequences and people I did not want to disappoint. When I hit that wall in the Army, I powered through it. I got my second wind. It didn’t hurt because I didn’t quit.
Had I not quit in high school, but rather conserved my energy and slowed to a more reasonable pace, I would’ve made the soccer team instead of embarrassing myself.
I didn’t realize what the 40% plateau was.
I should’ve slowed down, dug down and found that strength to keep going. I didn’t know how. The Army taught me the mission comes first. My platoon taught me the team comes first. My friend taught me others come first.
All these come before me, and it gave me the drive to keep going. Being properly trained, fed and motivated gave me the ability to keep going. Despite being tired.
In business, especially starting a project, it’s important to be properly prepared and paced in order to power through. We will hit obstacles. will get tired. It will stop being fun, and become hard work. But people depend on you. Your company’s mission depends on you. Your “success" depends on you.
My personal plateau will not stop me. I will not quit because things aren’t going according to plan. I am prepared and equipped to change the plan. It’s time to climb.
This is the time to dig in, remember the why, develop the how, and go after the whats which will benefit the most. Time to find the whos that are depending on me and help where they hurt.
Because I’m not done yet. I have sixty percent left before I’m truly exhausted. That’s if i don’t refuel along the way. Self care is another topic for another day. Today is the day to keep going. To take an honest inventory of where I am, and what I need to get where I want.
originally posted on medium.com Apr 23, 2019