Today I set out to run 7 miles. I know. Why? Just keep reading...
I started out strong, feeling good and moving quickly. I remember thinking very seriously, "I was born to do this." (ha!) Just a couple miles into the run, I no longer believed that "I was born to do this." It was more like, "I will die, if I keep doing this!"
It seems that there are lots of things we tackle in life by starting off strong, like: starting a business, having kids, and yes, even deciding to run a half marathon. When we start something new, it's usually with great enthusiasm and excitement. We begin with confidence and courage knowing that we're doing what we're supposed to be doing and that we'll succeed.
But before we know it, the middle begins. During the middle, we begin to wonder whether what we're doing is even remotely close to what we're supposed to doing. We start to doubt whether or not we can actually succeed. We start to tear ourselves down.
In the middle of a run, instead of focusing on putting one foot in front of the other, I often start looking for any (and every) reason to quit: "It's too windy today." "I am not a runner....who am I kidding?" "There is too much traffic. I'll have to stop at all the lights. What's the point in that?" and so on and so on. My heart knows that I can reach my goal, but my mind and my body start to work against my heart to sabotage it with doubt.
I've seen dozens of people do the same thing when they find themselves in the middle of their business. They start to think to themselves, "I don't deserve this." "I'm not good enough to make it to the top." "I don't have the time or energy to keep this up."
The middle is also a place where we often allow comparisons to beat us down. Today as I was running, I saw an African American male running towards me with extreme confidence and power. And you know what I did?! I let my mind start comparing!? I starting thinking, "Look at him. He's got an amazing pace." "He looks so comfortable." "I could hardly hear him breathing when he ran by!" Are you kidding me?!
What I should have been thinking was, "He obviously didn't birth 2 kids." "I'm sure he doesn't run a successful business, and cook dinner and do the laundry and run his kids all around town." But I wasn't thinking that! I was comparing my running ability to the running ability of an 20 something African American Male. I mean really?! If we want to talk about athletic ability, he surely had me beat! Why do we do that to ourselves?
We do the same thing with our parenting skills. I think we all start with this super human confidence. Baby number 1...easy. Baby number 2....not quite so easy. Baby number 3....I can only imagine. We get in the middle of parenting, and we start comparing ourselves.
There are far too many times that I have been at McDonald's in the playplace and yelled at (I mean gently disciplined) one of my children, and not 2 seconds later I'm looking around at all the other "perfect" moms with their "perfect" kids. They didn't have to discipline their kids in front of God and everyone at McDonald's. But we know they don't have perfect kids, and we know they aren't perfect moms, yet we can't help but compare ourselves.
One thing I do know about the middle is that you will be tested over and over again while you're there. You've got to be doing what you're doing for the right reasons. And the best way to get through the middle is slow and steady.
Most things worth doing are not easy. Most things worth doing are challenging both mentally and physically. And most things worth doing simply take putting one foot in front of the other over and over again until you reach the end where your hard work and determination will pay off. Whether it's in your business, as a parent, or on the road, step by step is often the best way to get to the end where you are sure to be reminded of why you started in the first place.