At the end of August I had one of the best weeks I have ever had – I set not one, but two running PBs, passed my driving test (the third attempt!) and got a promotion at work. Rather than just chalking it all up to luck (although I am sure luck played rather a large part), I decided to examine my behaviour during that week to see if there was anything that I did that perhaps, made my own luck.
- Work HARD. PUSH further. Dig DEEP
It sounds obvious, but sometimes you just actually really need to work hard to get what you want or to go further. I always thought I ran hard; after all, it wasn’t easy, so it must be hard, right? Wrong! Working hard is hard, when I ran for my PBs it was extremely uncomfortable, I panted the whole way round, it was tough. Similarly, for my new job I will be out of my comfort zone – I have not managed people before or led a team before and I will be doing this on top of my current job, but sometimes, you have to just “dig deep”.
- Recuperate – (take time to sharpen your axe).
We can’t go at things 100% 100% of the time. I can’t get a 10k PB , or even run a 10k at 10k PB pace everyday; it isn’t possible. Athletes know it, so they have training plans to gear them up for an event and then give them some time off/an off season afterwards to rest and wind-down before ramping up again. The day of my 10k PB I took the whole day off, I was rested, didn’t have to get up at the crack of dawn and I was relaxed – I wasn’t even thinking about running a PB, I just wanted to run and have a good race. The day of my 5k PB, I was on a weekend break. When I passed my driving test, I had the whole day off. We can’t always take time off when we want to, but we can take a break, wind down, go for lunch. You can’t sprint all the time.
- Believe in yourself
Normally in a race I am constantly checking my average pace and panicking as I see it drop and I know my dream time has slipped by. This time, I barely looked at my watch, I just thought “I am going to run hard” and I ran hard, I had faith in my own ability to not need external verification of it the whole time. For the 5k PB eight days later, I looked at my past performance – I had just set a 10K PB, the 5 one was ripe for the taking. OK, I didn’t know the route, the terrain, the weather, I was away from home etc – things that could be negative but ultimately didn’t matter, I had just done it, I could do it again – I had faith in my ability. This was also true of my driving test, ok; past performance was that I had failed twice, but I had faith in that I could actually drive. This was true of my promotion, I know I have a lot to offer as an employee and I can do the job.
- Keep your cards close to your chest
I told everybody about my first driving test, I was just so excited I wanted the world to know. Then I failed. Ouch. A similar thing happened the second time. My third time, nobody knew I was taking it. I am not suggesting that this was why I passed but it is interesting – if you are aiming for something where the result is out of your control – a test, an interview, it’s best to keep it to your self or a trusted confidante; you can always tell the world when you’ve done it.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff – delegate, throw money at it, just sort it
I had been worrying before the 10k – I still couldn’t drive and I was wondering how to get to the race. I don’t like asking people I don’t know very well for lifts, I don’t want to inconvenience anyone, I could walk but then I would be tired, the logistics stress me out, I could get a bus but it wasn’t really on a bus route, I could leave work early….eventually I took the whole day off so I could relax and enjoy myself and I paid for a taxi to take me there. Done, sorted – I arrived completely relaxed and ready. How often do we stress about the small details, the things that really should be insignificant in the scheme of what we are trying to achieve but instead keep us up at night worrying about this tiny detail? We can’t all just book a taxi I realise, but perhaps we can delegate or fix that tiny thing so that we can get on with the bigger picture and what is really important.
- Be open to opportunities
If I had looked at my watch during the 10k I would have thought “Wow, that’s fast, I can’t possibly run 6 miles at that pace” and then I would have slowed down (I had been thinking I was in 52 minute shape – not sub-49 shape!). If I had not been open to opportunities, I would not have been promoted – you can be content and happy in what you do (or your pace!) and still keep an eye out for opportunities to make progress, develop or broaden your horizons – the two are not mutually exclusive.
* Ok, it was eight days, and maybe it wasn’t my best week ever, but it was still fantastic.