Read an Excerpt
Believe in Yourself
You Can Do More Than You Think
At the beginning of my seminars, I often start by asking everyone in the room to raise his or her hand. Everyone complies. Then I say, "Raise it higher," which everyone does. "Higher again," I call out, and again everyone in the room figures out a way to put their arms even higher in the air. Some stand up, others hop on the table or chair. Within moments the room is full of excitement and laughter as the point of this exercise hits home. "You see what just happened," I conclude. "Everyone in this room underestimated what he or she was capable of doing when I first asked you to raise your hands."
Expanding the boundaries of what you believe to be possible is critical in putting yourself in a position to go the distance and do the extraordinary. We need to stretch beyond self-imposed limitations.
It is late September 1987. I have just been hired to prepare a team of runners from a major hotel in New York for the upcoming New York City Marathon. The hotel's general manager, with support from his staff, believes participation in the marathon will build camaraderie and company spirit. A rally is held in the hotel's grand ballroom to introduce the team of twenty-seven runners to me their coach. The ballroom is full of cheering staff. The team runs down the center aisle amidst clapping and cheering. Speeches are given. When it is over, I meet privately with the team.
"How many of you have ever run a marathon before?" I ask. One person raises hishand.
"What about twenty miles?" The same person raises his hand. No one else does.
"How about ten miles?" Still only the lone marathon veteran nods.
"What about 1OK?" Nothing.
"A 5K?" Everyone raises his or her hands. Twenty-seven runners and only one had ever run more than 3.1 miles, the distance of the race sponsored earlier in the year by that same hotel.
The New York City Marathon is nine weeks away.
Everyone in the room laughs. We all share the humor in the improbability of it all. Twenty-seven crusaders about to embark on a marathon journey in a little more than two months with only one of them even remotely prepared to go. I think: "Well, there goes the deal." Sure I am hesitant. My initial reaction is, "I can't possibly train twenty-six novice runners to finish a marathon in nine weeks." It just can't be done! I might be acting irresponsibly if I take the hotel's money and bring this group to the starting line.
Then I reconsider. I believe in the human capacity to go the distance, that even the seemingly most ordinary of talents is capable of producing the most extraordinary of results. This event will surely put my belief to the test. My initial hesitancy changed to excitement. What an incredible opportunity!
So I get creative. "We are not going to train to run a marathon," I announce to the group of startled would-be marathoners. "We are going to learn how to participate in and enjoy a 26.2 mile-long street festival." From that point on it gets easier.
I need to reconceptualize what it is we are about to do. Running the entire marathon at breakneck speed is not an option for most of them. Indeed, I would not recommend that strategy for anyone save the most experienced and elite marathon runner. What we have to do is chunk-down our goal, making it monumental and manageable at the same time. I know that nine weeks isn't enough to train them in a conventional marathon-training program. And these are not people who have the luxury of endless amounts of free time to allocate to marathon preparation. I figure five to seven hours a week of training is probably more than most could commit to. Realistically, three to five was what I was going to get.
We develop a plan that consists of transforming the aid stations set up at one-mile intervals along the course into festival booths. Our objective becomes to visit each and every one of them. We plan on entering the staging ground of the event not as untested warriors going off to battle, but as youthful explorers about to journey through their first adventure. The feeling we want to create inside is one of curiosity and awe, excitement and calm, jubilation and anticipation. These seem infinitely more attractive and energizing than the emotional state of fear, anxiety, trepidation, and self-doubt.
But the most important thing I have to do is convince each and every runner that this goal is achievable. The general manager believes in me, that I can somehow miraculously get his group through the 26.2 miles of the New York City Marathon. Now I have to get the group to believe in themselves; that they can do it!
We spend time every day visualizing step-by-step what it is going to be like to do the event. I want them to have a plan in place prior to the race and I want them to "see" themselves confidently and assertively implementing the plan. Creative visualization involves constructing an image in your mind's eye of what it will be like when you reach your ultimate goal. Visualization concentrates the energy that springs from your desires and increases the likelihood that your dreams will be realized. With the vision of the future firmly embedded in your imagination, your mind will lead your body to the fulfillment of our thoughts. I share with the group an exercise that I use with clients prior to a big event.
"I want you to 'see' what it is like to enter the staging area. I want you to 'feel' how calm and excited you can be as you make your way to the starting line...