There is an old saying: ‘Two Steps Forward, One Step Back’, which is a reference to the difficult nature of moving towards a goal. Sport provides many opportunities for arduous paths filled with setback as we climb towards goals. This lesson also plays out in the arena of life with many stumbles on the way to greater personal achievement and growth. The step back may be a mistake, but the mistake often unravels the solution to greater progress, so the net gain is still one step forward. I look at my best performances in racing and training as the times where I took a third step forward in very intense and uncomfortable situations
Racing provides many opportunities for personal success, particularly in helping create individual positive habits. Whether it's developing the ability to be resilient through tough days or creating moments of sheer fun, there is something powerful about turning hard effort into a season best or lifetime best performance.
Training well is about forward momentum: physically and emotionally being both focussed on what you can do well right now, while keeping your path in a straight line to your goal. Do that well and both the journey and the finish line become joyful events.
If you call yourself an athlete and are training towards any goal, you have already conquered the first of the two steps forward by showing commitment to your goal and by having the right attitude to continue to be motivated through weeks and months of training.
Having goals, a training plan and a time management schedule for putting it all together shows commitment. Showing up ready to train or race, being prepared and willing to work hard is about attitude. For some the attitude is pure joy and loving being outside training, and at the other end of the spectrum are those who are motivated by success and being great: often athletes are a subtle blend of each of these processes. There will be hard days and obstacles and you will take a step back - and that experience will create some kind of learning if you can see it.
Sometimes there is an opportunity to take a third daring step forward. It is taking the often daunting third step that provides true satisfaction. The first two steps forward - training and commitment - create opportunities: opportunities to move beyond our comfort zones and to do something truly great with our lives. A small window for success will appear before us one day and whether we jump through that window or not is what makes the difference. Do you take that small step forward at the unplanned moment? Do you embrace moving out of your comfort zone without a second thought, without the 'what if'? Taking the third step requires us to overcome a fear or a doubt about our ability to reach our goal. The third step is saying ‘Yes’ and not ‘No’, leaping at a challenge and not shutting down. Do this and the chances are that when the big opportunities present themselves, you will be ready and able to head into the unknown with all your power.
Run For Joy
Writing the Running Life
For 30 years I pursued a high performance career and traveled the world. This blog melds this experience with my coaching and passion to support excellence in others.