As some of you know, I’ve taken my first steps into the world of running by joining a beginner’s clinic specifically aimed at training for an upcoming 5K race. Over the weeks that we’ve been training, we’ve increased our running times from a mix of one- and two-minute walk/run cycles to cycles that have us repeatedly running three and four minutes at a time. We’ve also changed our routes, incorporating varying terrain like hills, turns and gradual slopes. All of these give us an opportunity to exceed our current capacities and reach ones of greater endurance and pace. As I mentioned in my earlier blog, I’m engaging my beginner’s mind as I run. I’m not out to prove anything (even to myself), and I’m not trying to solve any problem. I’m out to finish, and, along the journey, to see what I notice about myself as I build up my endurance and capacity to run. My intention is simply to create a new energy for myself.
A webinar that I’m currently taking, The Empowerment Dynamic (or TED), teaches us about shifts in our mindsets when we set our intentions on what we want, on creating something rather than solving a problem or focusing on what we don’t want. When we shift to an intention of creating something we want, we choose – personally choose – an energy and orientation on an outcome of “I Can Do It” rather than “I’m not as fast|able|agile as the gal or guy in front of me.” It may seem small, yet applying this to my running changes everything – my relationship with myself and my running goal, my relationship and conversation with other runners, and my relationship with how I perceive myself. I’m not focused on whether or not I’m the slowest one in the pack; rather my mindset is focused on bringing into being a newly created identity and outcome – I am a runner.
I experienced a breakthrough at our last clinic: I noticed that after the first two cycles of ”run three, walk two”, that I was not as tired or out of breath as I was the week before. Keeping with my slow and deliberate pace, I psyched myself to keep going to the next tree, then to the next crosswalk, and on and on. I wasn’t gasping for breath and my body wasn’t screaming to stop. The pace that I had developed for myself was serving me well. I was doing it!
My new practice of running and the new habits I’m forming in the process have moved me beyond where I was a month ago. These are clearly baby steps that I’m taking (I’m not signing up for a marathon anytime too soon!) and I am setting my intention on an outcome – to finish the 5K race. My mindset is focused on what I want rather than what I don’t want. This is a subtle and powerful shift and distinction. What I’ve done, simply put, is to empower myself, to act as a leader for myself by focusing on the positive outcomes I want, and creating the intentions and energy to make those outcomes real. I’m realizing, too, that these ideas can strengthen the leaders I work with. All leaders can benefit from such an approach, one that focuses on a “can do” mindset for yourself and your team members.
Try this over the next week. See how you might shift the language and your outlook on how you engage with your employees and teams. Where might you instill a “can do” mindset in your conversations? Ask them “what do we want” rather than “what don’t we want”, see what you notice, and comment back. I’ll be curious what breakthroughs you might experience!