Tag Archives | challenge

Five Reasons to Sign up for the FML Winter Games

Ever since I started running more than 25 years ago, I’ve been a dedicated fitness enthusiast, a choice that has added energy, health, and adventure to my life. Along with running, I have enjoyed biking (both mountain and road biking), cross-country skiing, triathalons, and more recently, Crossfit.

And although I’ve enjoyed some more than others, there is one step–one “best practice”–that, in every pursuit, propelled my success, personal growth, and enjoyment.

I signed up for competitions.

As a runner, I entered 5K’s, 10K’s and half marathons. When I turned 30, I completed the New York City Marathon, which was the fulfillment of a lifelong goal. When I discovered mountain biking, I did the Ice Man, one of the most physically demanding endurance events I ever completed. Similarly, when I took up “skate skiing” in my early 40’s, I entered the North American Vasa. And three years ago, when a frustrating battle with achilles tendonitis sidelined me from running, I jumped into Crossfit, a high intensity combination of Olympic Weightlifting, gymnastics, and boot camp-style training. Each of those years, I signed up to compete in the Crossfit Open, an international competition with more than 300,000 athletes.

Regardless of how I finished, I’ve never regretted these experiences. Stepping into the competitive arena, regardless of your skill level, always makes you better.

And this year, despite turning 56 three weeks ago, I’m planning to compete in the first-ever Fit My Life (FML) Winter Games here in Traverse City during the first weekend in February. If you’ve made a commitment to improving your fitness in 2017, then chances are this 2-day competition will also appeal to you! Here are five reasons to participate:

via Fit My Life

1. Develop your confidence. In an earlier post, I reflected on some great advice I received from a mentor, that life begins at the edge of your comfort zone. We don’t grow when we’re comfortable; it is when we push past our self-imposed limits and surprise ourselves that we really progress in life. (You may also want to check out my earlier post on developing a growth mindset).

2. Jumpstart your progress. No matter where you are in terms of your fitness goals, the fact is, signing up for a competition is like having one of those “fast-passes” at Disney World. You will be amazed at how much further and faster you progress as an athlete.

3. Make new friendships with like-minded people. One of the best attributes of Fit My Life (FML) is the sense of community. There are seasoned fitness athletes working out alongside beginners in an encouraging and supportive atmosphere. This kind of encouraging, ‘we’re all in this together’ style of competition really brings out the best in people.

4. There are Beginner and Advanced Categories available. Whether you’re a seasoned fitness fanatic or a total beginner, you’ll be able to compete in a category with people of similar ability and experience.

5. This is more than a competition. Saturday’s festivities will include food, craft beer, and great live music. Celebrate your accomplishment with friends and fellow competitors.

BONUS: Support a local charity! All proceeds from the FML Winter Games event will support Veteran to Veteran, a mentoring program for area Vets.

To be clear, this competition will not be easy–you will be challenged both physically and mentally. But you’ve probably experienced something similar at some point in your life. Maybe it was learning a new skill, dealing with an illness or personal setback, or taking on a challenge you’d never done before. They are difficult when they are happening, but, looking back, we have to admit:
This is where the growth happens.
This is where your self confidence soars.
This is where real fulfillment resides.

If you’re looking to make 2017 your best year ever, discover the rewards of taking a trip outside your comfort zone by signing up for the FML Winter Games.

To register online or simply find out more about the event, visit www.FitMyLifeTraverseCity.com.

Question: What’s the greatest physical or athletic challenge you have encountered? How did you prepare for it, and how did you feel afterwards?

Comments { 1 }

Change Your Smile… Change Your Life

Recently, I came across a 2011 Ted Talk by Ron Gutman called The Hidden Impact of Smiling, he shares some fascinating research on this most basic human expression. Consider these findings:

  • A 30-year University of California study found that, by measuring the length of students’ smiles in a 1950’s high school yearbook, they could predict the duration of their marriages as well as how well they would score in standardized tests of happiness and self fulfillment.
  • A 2010 Wayne State University study of pre-1950’s Major League Baseball cards found that players who smiled in their photo lived an average of eight years longer than those who didn’t smile.
  • According to British researchers, smiling produces the same neurological stimulation as receiving up to $16 lbs sterling in cash. (approximately $25,000).
  • The simple act of smiling has been found to measurably reduce the amount of stress-producing hormones like cortisol and adrenaline while increasing brain-enhancing endorphins.

Last spring, in an article titled Smiling for Dollars in Dealer Magazine, automotive marketing expert Jim Boldebook described a study conducted by a psychology professor at a university in upstate New York involving three Albany, NY auto dealerships. The study focused exclusively on exploring what the professor termed the “smile factor” of sales consultants in influencing transactions. The results revealed that the sales consultants who smiled the most had a 20% higher conversion rate and 10% higher average gross profit per transaction than those who smiled the least.

While it’s self evident that smiling is associated with happiness and a greater sense of well being, this research goes much further; namely, that smiling more means living longer, having stronger relationships — even earning more income.

So how’s your “smile IQ?”

via MOMcircle

For example, of the sixteen-plus hours you spend awake every day, how much of that time do you spend smiling? When you approach a stranger walking down the street, do you wait for them to smile first before smiling back, or do you initiate the exchange of smiles? Does it matter?

If you believe even half of Gutman’s findings, it not only matters, it has life-changing potential.

Based on these surprising facts, what would it mean to the quality of your life if you smiled more frequently? Here’s a challenge: Change your smile… Change your life. Take ten minutes every day during the next week to intentionally focus on smiling, wherever you are — even if you’re alone (researchers have found that smiling enhances your mood). Then let me know how it goes!

Comments { 0 }

Do you live in an ‘echo chamber?’

Recently, while listening to ESPN Radio morning talk show host Colin Cowherd, he made a comment, in his typical loquacious and opinionated style, that got my attention. He was commenting on the intense personal bias among sports fans when discussing their favorite–or most hated–teams, players, coaches, etc.

“Stop living in echo chambers,” he said.  “You’ll never grow. You just hear what you want to hear.”

Image Credit: Agencies

Cowherd then expanded his comments to politics, remarking how conservatives tend to watch Fox News exclusively while Liberals stay glued to MSNBC. Challenging his listeners to explore all perspectives, he claims he has read the latest books by both ultra-conservative author Ann Coulter and left wing liberal icon Bill Mahr.

If true, I’ll bet he’s the only one who has ever done so.

With full consideration of Cowherd’s popularity as an on-air agitator who gets paid to create conflict, I  think he makes a valid point. In fact, the “echo chambers” Cowherd describes probably account for most of the ideological polarization, political correctness, even government gridlock that permeates our culture. What is it about our lifestyles that keeps us from exposing ourselves to ideas we oppose? To be clear, I’m not suggesting you have to agree with everyone–no one benefits from a nation of conviction-less people easily swayed by persuasive arguments or sappy emotionalism. But in a democracy like ours, Colin’s point is a reminder of the value of considering opposing perspectives.

His comments also caused me to examine my own confirmation bias.  Nearly all the TV programs I watch, newsletters I subscribe to, books I read, and podcasts I listen to line up with my views in politics, faith, entertainment, music, etc.  Is this perfectly normal, or, like the kid who watches the same movie over and over, is it limiting me?

I can’t help but recall author Steven Covey who, in his landmark book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, issued a profound piece of advice (Habit #5) that, although written in the late 1980’s, seems already to be old fashioned in today’s world:

“Seek first to understand… then be understood.”

Think about your own positions on politics, world affairs, religion, sports–anything on which you have strong opinions. Do you tend to live in an ‘echo chamber?’ Is your confirmation bias so strong that you tune out anything that doesn’t line up with your way of thinking? In your view, are there risks to approaching life this way or is that simply the way of the modern world?

What if a friend you highly respected challenged you to have lunch with someone who had completely opposing views to you? How would you feel about it? Why?

Leave me your comments. I’d love to know what you think.

Comments { 2 }

Why Dreaming is Vital to Growing your Personal Brand

Of all the high leverage leadership tools to develop people, coaching, to me, is the most beneficial and satisfying. There’s a real sense of meaning in equipping your people to go further and faster in all areas of their lives.

Whenever I’ve had the opportunity to engage in a formal coaching relationship with someone, I started with a few “big picture” questions about work, family, habits, and aspirations. And if there is one “30,000 foot” question that evokes the greatest difficulty in answering, it’s this:

“What are your dreams?”

By Steven Errico | Getty Images

It is interesting to me how much trouble people have answering this question — in most cases, they’ve asked for more time to think it through. Why do people struggle to dream? Is it a product of a conformity-based, performance-driven culture? Is it our education system? Is there a negative stigma associated with dreaming — something that only naive, unproductive, starry-eyed slackers do?

Whatever the reason, I believe that having big dreams is a valuable asset in developing your personal brand and living a purposeful, fulfilling life. Here’s why:

1) Big dreams = a big life. Confucius said, “Aim for the stars, that way the lowest thing you will hit is the moon.” Dreaming pushes people to heights they wouldn’t have hit had they not set their minds on something big, even if it is insurmountable. Consider the dream that launched Habitat for Humanity: “We envision a world where everyone has a decent place to live.” Will this ever happen? Not in our lifetimes, but pursuing such a lofty vision has enabled them to grow far beyond what they ever imagined and become a worldwide resource for millions of displaced people.

2) Dreaming brings out the best in people. Big dreams have led to the most important achievements in human history. From the eradication of smallpox to unmanned spaceflight to the most important technological discoveries of our age, all great accomplishments started in someone’s imagination.

3) Dreaming shifts our perspective. In a culture that overemphasizes busyness and accomplishment, there’s constant pressure to stay on life’s runway, chasing what’s directly in front of you. When all your time and energy is spent working IN your life instead of ON your life, it depletes you, causing you to settle for less. As Tony Robbins said, “Most people get caught up in making a living instead of designing a life.”

To be clear, it’s important to differentiate between dreaming and fantasizing. There is no benefit to having your head in the clouds with no basis in reality. Dreaming isn’t fantasy; it is an intentional pursuit that, if done right, will bring out the best version of yourself. To fully harness the power of your imagination in a way that adds substance and impact to your career and your life, here are five keys to dreaming big:

1) Ask the right questions. Questions have tremendous power to expand our thinking, generate ideas, and uncover our true selves. Here are some good ones:
– How do I want to be remembered? What do I want people to say about me at my funeral?
– What matters most to me? What am I truly passionate about? What inspires me?
– What activities and pursuits really engage me — where I lose track of time, where the hours seem to fly by while I am doing them?
– What would I give myself to if money was not an issue?

2) Set aside time each week to think. This sounds so counter-cultural, doesn’t it? But it’s precisely what some of the most productive and resourceful leaders build into their busy schedules. In his New York Times best selling book, Thinking for a Change, author John Maxwell advises leaders to commit time each day to uninterrupted thinking, planning, and processing ideas. One way to start: Commit 30 minutes a day to answering the above questions.

3) Commit to becoming a more curious person. Practice asking and listening. In my July 10th, 2014 post, “Learn to Be Lucky,” I summarized some interesting research findings on luck. One of them is that lucky people tend to create their own chance events by paying attention, opening their minds to noticing things and, as a result, frequently discovering possibilities well beyond what they were looking for. In much the same way, people who take the focus off themselves tend to stretch their minds, expand their possibilities, and generate new ideas — all of which are the building blocks of great dreams.

4) Write down your dreams, ideas, and goals. Eighteen months ago, at the urging of a mentor, I committed to journaling in the morning three to five times per week. While I was skeptical that I would stick with it, this small habit has become so ingrained that I truly miss it if I go even a day or two without this reflective, thought-provoking activity. In her outstanding book, Write it Down, Make it Happen, Henriette Klauser shares powerful stories about ordinary people who witnessed miracles large and small unfold in their lives after they performed the basic act of putting their dreams on paper. The act of writing down your dreams activates something in your soul that sets things in motion.

5) Spend time with people who see things differently than you. Yes, they will challenge you, but engaging with people who have different political, religious, and intellectual views will sharpen you and expand your thinking. Sadly, in a political culture that labels the opposition as the enemy, we tend to vilify people with whom we disagree instead of engaging them.

My Father, the Dreamer

Earlier this year, I created a presentation for our employees on the history of our company, which chronicles the life and career of my father, and founder of the Bill Marsh Auto Group. My dad has always been a dreamer. Below is a clip from the end of an interview with my father, Bill Marsh Sr, as he shares why:

Question: What about you? Do you consider yourself a dreamer? Why or why not? What would it mean to you and to the quality of your life if you committed to dreaming big? What holds you back? I’d really like to get your feedback.

Keep Dreaming by Joel Robison

Comments { 0 }