Maybe this habit will inspire

Picture taken by Mike McFadden at the 2017 Fear the Dear Trail Run

It’s well known YouTube is oversaturated with cat videos and Instagram has way too many pictures of yummy food. LinkedIn is climbing up the ranks with all the posts on habits and keys to success so why would I contribute to the clutter? Because there are times a new cat video will make you laugh, a new food picture will make your mouth water, and maybe part of my story will inspire change.

I was catching up on my news feed when this headline caught my attention:

Mark Zuckerberg, Richard Branson and Mark Cuban all agree that this one habit is key to success

The article is short, sweet and cnbc got another click (me) so there is a happy digital marketing manager somewhere out there. Spoiler alert: exercise is the one habit they agree on. Honestly I was disappointed. I guess I was hoping for something new. Something secret. Something only cnbc could uncover!! :-).

After my high from mocking cnbc stopped I did take a little time to reflect on this “news”. Did I really believe exercise is the key to success? I’m not the most qualified to judge. However, I can share my experience. I picked up running as a real habit in 2013 and it’s been quite a game changer in my life.

Nov 2013: Signing up for my first marathon

I didn’t feel good. I knew I wasn’t treating my body well. I was at a Christmas party and after a couple plates of sweets, some glasses of wine, and a conversation that spurred my recollection of Charles Duhigg’s book The Power of Habit, my wife and I signed up for the 2014 LA Marathon. This was going to be my keystone habit.

“Keystone habits create a chain reaction; changing and rearranging your other habits as you integrate the habit into your life. They have 3 characteristics: they give you numerous small senses of victory; they serve as the soil from which other habits grow; and they give you energy and confidence to do more.” — Chris Bailey

The decision to run the marathon happened on this November evening in 2013. We had approximately 18 weeks to train which was, coincidently, the same number of weeks the famous Hal Higdon prescribes in his Novice Training program. I reflect back on that decision and it ended up being one that spurred more fruit than I could have dreamed.

Lasting benefits include

  • I’ve run ~500 miles a year since 2014.
  • I’ve listened to more audio books than ever before including Midlife and the Great Unknown by David Whyte, Rohr’s Falling Upward, 10% Happier, Mark Nepo’s Seven Thousand Ways to Listen, Jim Collin’s Great by Choice, Born to Run, and more. The list of books I’ve finished is available on my Good Reads profile.
  • I’m now an avid podcast listener. Some of my favorite shows include Tim Ferriss, Tara Brach, On Being with Krista Tippett, Michael Hyatt, EntreLeadership, StoryBrand, Tony Robbins, TED Radio Hour, and Design Matters with Debbie Millman. The interviews, stories and insights are priceless. For me, podcasts have been an incredible door into other people’s perspectives and ideas.
  • I run when I travel which gives me time outside an office and an opportunity to explore areas I would never see. Some of my favorite runs include: the Red Sea in Saudi Arabia, the London Eye/Westminster Abbey/Thames in London, sub zero degree run in rural Illinois, loops in Central Park, the country side in Rye, England with sheep roaming free, and running from LAX to Marina Del Rey right off a flight.

I don’t hold a flame to Branson, Zuckerberg or Cuban but I can vouch that consistent exercise has been an incredible catalyst of great things in my life.

I’m curious what exercise has done for you in your life and career.