How are you holding yourself back?

The other day I got up at 6 am for an early morning run. I love running first thing; the house is quiet and it feels as if I’m breaking the silence of the night as I creep downstairs being careful to leave my wife and children dreamily in their slumber. In the spring I love the way that the mornings get ever lighter and the air ever warmer, in the summer I love that the day has already been awake for at least a couple of hours, the world already bathed in light. And in the late autumn and winter? Well that’s a different story…

This week it’s dark at 6 am and more than dark: at 6 am the sky is nearly black when the moon is past it’s fullness or the sky is covered in a blanket of cloud. And my route, the first 1.5 km of which is along a road that has its street lights turned off at midnight seems somewhat strange and unfamiliar. Engulfed in darkness, except for the light from passing cars or the occasional house light, this 1500 metres foretold conditions for the next 9 km. So as I rounded the corner and descended the footpath to the canal there I was, encased in visual treacle. Yet, it’s amazing how your eyes adjust to the dim, how puddles reflect what seems to be a residual glow of yesterday and the outlines of boats, trees and buildings appear silhouetted in a lighter tone of black.

I enjoyed my run – the experience of feeling your path through your feet, your eyes picking out objects in even the faintest of light, the excitement of seeing the glimmer of sunrise ahead of you (although not that day), then returning home with thoughts in mind of safety, excitement and early morning winter darkness. How am I going to keep this up with full on shorter and shorter winter days as an early morning runner?

And so my mind went to solutions, a list quickly came: use a headtorch, run along a street lit route, go out a little later. But I love my canalside run early in the mornings and I know that headtorch running spoils the eyes’ capacity to see in the near darkness. But if that’s who I am, an early morning runner, then what should I do? What would you do? I don’t want to stop running until the spring.

So what does all this have to do with you? Well my run probably has some significant similarities to areas of your work and life where you seem to be struggling, not fulfilling your potential or are achieving limited success. In those situations and circumstances who are you being? What label are you wearing? What identity are you giving yourself that is stopping you from moving forwards or limiting your options? Keeping you where you are and limiting your future success.

I can continue running in the dark, but is that going to give me the intrinsic satisfaction that I get from a great run? Am I going to come a cropper one morning when I trip and twist an ankle, get a bramble in my face or stumble into an icy canal?

Suppose instead of “an early morning runner”, I am “a runner”. What would that do for me? What alternative options and solutions does that provide? If I am a runner then I can run whenever I want; morning, noon or night. I can run canalside, streetside or any side. I can run sprint or distance, road or trail, day or night, inside or out.

And if, as my daughter called me later that same morning, “I am an athlete” what else can I do? Does that provide even better choices and options for staying fit over the winter months?

So back to you. What if you’re not a “insert your label here” and instead you are a “insert your better label here”. And what if you weren’t that but are “insert your 10x better label here”? Step into that identity even now and begin to notice what options are available to you from that place. Take note of what they are and begin to plan how you can use some of these more resourceful alternatives, even just one of them.

So now that I know that during this winter I can run at anytime of day and wherever I chose, I can also swim, cycle, join the hockey club, start indoor climbing again or any number of other possibilities. I just have to chose some and start doing them!

Your call to action:

  • What is an issue facing you right now?
  • Ask yourself (and pay attention to your response) “who am I being right now?”
  • Now ask yourself (and continue to pay attention) “who would I rather be?”
  • Write down the options that come up when you ask yourself “what do I do when I am [insert your new who here]?”
  • Who else could I be who would be even better than that? And what would I do if I were that person?

It’s your choice. Choose your identity, put it on, notice how you walk, talk, think, speak and hear differently from this place. And start living it right now!

And please share with me the success that you have.

Until next time, live and love you life!