Starting is Hard
In the last couple of weeks, I’ve started running again.
Like a chain smoker who has “quit smoking” multiple times, I’ve “started running again” multiple times too. Just ask my wife. There are probably multiple times where I’ve mentioned “I think I’m going to start getting in shape again.” Megan then politely nods and smiles, knowing the odds of me hitting the snooze button are greater than tackling the hills around our neighborhood the following morning.
Almost two weeks in, I’ve stuck with it. And it’s been tough. Even though I have a background running competitively, you lose a lot quickly if you only run 3 miles once a month. I’m essentially starting over.
I forgot how hard starting was. It’s not something that comes easy. It hurts. When I’m climbing a huge hill at the end of a run, I wonder if I’m still cut out for it.
But it doesn’t matter if I’m cut out for it. My success getting in shape doesn’t depend on it. It depends on whether or not I keep getting up and going back out there in the morning, making progress along the way. I know that it’s going to take a long time to get back in any type of shape.
IT’S RE-TEACHING ME A LOT ABOUT WORK
Re-learning how to run has reinforced the idea of grit in my work. Almost three years ago I was brought on to help build up the digital capabilities for DeMoss. I wasn’t replacing a recently vacated position. I was helping build something new for the agency. It was closer to starting a new business, except I didn’t have to raise capital.
Like running, I really underestimated how hard it would be. DeMoss already had a stellar reputation in the PR world. How hard could adding on new digital work be? As it turns out, harder than I thought.
We had a few small wins early on. But then we also had a lot of “almosts.” We almost got one huge digital project launched. We almost won this pitch. We almost had significant celebrity influencers jump in on a social campaign. The “almosts” felt like they were outnumbering the wins.
All of the almosts made me question if I was the right guy for the job. Was I cut out for what I was hired to do? Should I keep pushing or go do something different?
Like running, instead of throwing in the towel, I kept showing up. I keep pushing, trying new approaches and finding new digital solutions to better serve our clients.
When I first started running, I wasn’t very good. I had entire years where I felt like I wasn’t going anywhere. But then I’d have seasons where it felt like I was busting through a wall. For example, my freshman year of high school, I didn’t even make our varsity team. My sophomore year I was an individual all-state mention and a member a state championship team. I broke through a wall that sophomore year — simply because I kept working.
Remembering that feeling of busting through a wall keeps me motivated at work. Even in the last couple of months, I feel like we’re starting to bust through a wall in digital in a major way.
Like my past running life, having a combination of hard work, teammates keeping me accountable and good leadership helping guide me helps achieve success.
Success isn’t overnight. Most success stories that grace the covers of Fast Company or Inc. are usually stories that are actually many many years in the making. It’s just hard to always remember that.
What about you? What are some walls that you remember breaking through?