In the world of runners there are two kinds: sprinters and distance runners. To be sure, sprinters must train long and hard to be successful. But when it comes to the actual event, in 10 to 40 seconds it’s over. Raw, explosive muscle power, pushing the body to the extreme, but not much mental taxation.
Like sprinters, distance runners have to train plenty; but their event often seems as much a test of mind, spirit and will, as it is a demonstration of conditioning, strength and endurance.
Small business owners are more like distance runners than sprinters. Even if we have the fundamentals (strength) and the experience (conditioning), all of the stuff that we have to deal with, sometimes all alone, sorely tests our spiritual mettle (endurance). Like a distance runner, a small business owner often moves forward more on sheer will than anything else.
In his inspirational book, What’s The Rush, my friend, Jim Ballard says this, “When you feel overwhelmed and want to quit, pick out a landmark just ahead — a light pole, a house, a tree — and agree to run only that far.”
Jim is a runner, but his words are meant for every test of our strength and will. I use this mental drill when it looks like I am more likely to be prey than predator. I make an “agreement” with myself to just take things one day at a time — sometimes one hour at a time — and it helps me stay focused on the present stretch of the race.
However far ahead you place your “light pole”, focusing on that waypoint instead of the finish line will help your mettle withstand the stress. You can’t cross the finish line halfway through the race. So if you can’t solve next week’s problems today, don’t let them trip you up today.
I have a little prayer that helps me get to my next “light pole”: You and me, Lord, one day at a time.
On your mark - get set - go!