Busting My Ass

*This is the fourth post in a five-post series on my quest to complete the Rock ‘n Roll San Diego Marathon on June 3, 2012.

Nine days away. Can you believe it?! In nine days I will be running the streets of San Diego … for my life. Okay, so maybe not that dramatic, but I will be running hard and it is going to be the greatest challenge of my life. Even harder than running for office.

After I ran my half-marathon in March 2011 I pulled back on my running just to give my body a rest. As I’ve said before, my body is not a runner’s body. I was built for tennis. But in the past five years, I have definitely changed my build, but that doesn’t change the fact that I have encountered a hurt back, IT Band Syndrome and have had to bust my ass through terrible weather in order to train.

But that is the beauty of what is going to happen in nine days.

It is that the training has not been perfect. But anything worth getting takes work, right?

Just take a look at this schedule so you can begin to understand the commitment required to do this.

For a six mile run, here is what it takes.

  • The run itself will take about 57 minutes. But let’s just say an hour due to stoplights and stop signs.
  • Then I usually walk for five minutes to cool down.
  • Back at my apartment, I sit and stretch and let my heart-rate come down for about 20 minutes.
  • At that point, I either eat or shower. That really depends on the time of day and when I last ate. But the shower takes ten minutes.
  • Eating takes 20.

That amounts to one hour and 55 minutes. On days where the run is longer, just add in the time of 10 minutes a mile for math’s sake.

And this was my program. There are other marathon training programs that have you running five days a week! But I knew before I began to train for this that that amount of running would not be possible due to my past injuries.

Imagine running five days a week and the time commitment that requires. It’s beyond insane. It basically becomes your life. And it has. And while I am eager to get some time back to myself, it has been worth it.

You have to work hard to get what you want. You just have to want it bad enough.

You’ve Been Fired. Now What?

Three weeks ago I was let go from my job. There I said it. Taking the stairs down for the last time was definitely an emotional experience. And as I stood in the lobby of our office building in the Flatiron District here in the big city, I held back my tears. But the first of what would be dozens of texts began to stream in.

I walked the block-and-a-half to the subway to go home to drop off my bag. You see, I had tickets to what turned out to be an amazing show for that evening. Usually on the train I read, either the news on my phone or a physical book. But I could do neither. I stood, holding the cold metal pole, stunned. I never in my life had I imagined that I would be fired.

Sure, I’ve lost an election before, but it wasn’t re-election. In a sense, I just wasn’t hired then. But now I had been given the pink slip, which ironically is white. Which makes me curious where that terms came from.

By the time I got home, still stunned, my roommate had made me tea. I walked into the hallway, dropped off my bag and entered the kitchen. He asked me what had happened. And as I began to talk, I lost it. The tears finally came. We sat on the couch, drinking tea while I cried. And it was cathartic. I let it out. My unhappiness. My anger. My shock. And my worry.

Then I quickly changed and while I walked back to the subway to go see my show, I responded to as many texts and emails as I could. Then I got to the show and tried to turn off my mind and take in the experience. And I did. After the show, I went to Shake Shack with my friend Vikash who had attend the show with me. It was just what I needed. The time with a trusted friend (but the chocolate and peanut butter shake helped quite a bit!) basically re-set my attitude.

As we sat there and conversed together and with the New Zealander working at The Shack, Vikash was more than excited. We was excited because he knew I had wanted more time to do the things I am passionate about. Writing. Painting. Speaking.

When I woke up Thursday, only an hour later than normal, I got right to work. I started writing again. In fact, the week after being let go, I had a blog post up each day of the week. I don’t remember the last time that happened. I am building online partnerships. I did one painting already. I’m looking forward to getting my camera out soon too! I’m working on a video script now as well. I’ve been on a few interviews. I have even sent my novel out to an editing team. And I’m relaxing. I’m breathing.

hire a great speakerIt only took me 12 hours to take the events from the afternoon of May 2 and turn them into something positive. Sure, I still have depressed moments as I truly enjoyed the experience and the team I spent 13 months with. But I constantly remind myself that in the end, it is the journey. It is the experiences. It is the people that matter in my life. Not the job. Not the name on the paycheck. It is the people that come in and touch my heart.

Sure I’m worried about the next paycheck, or rather, getting a paycheck again. But for right now, I am eager for the road ahead. The possibilities are endless and I can’t wait to share them with you here.

If this experience has taught me anything so far, it is that I really do believe in possible.

Review: Proust Was a Neuroscientist

I have been wanting to read this book for awhile, and it was definitely worth the wait. While it was not a page-turner in the sense that I couldn’t put it down, the book for the most part, provides the framework for neuroscience research past, current and future and how art often times, when given the opportunity, can work hand in hand with science.

In Proust Was a Neuroscientist, by rising star author Jonah Lehrer, we see first-hand the connection between the arts and the sciences.

The first chapter of the book takes a loot at Walk Whitman and the quote to begin the chapter sets the stage, “The poet writes the history of his own body,” said Henry David Thoreau. And isn’t that the truth with all artists? With every book I write, every blog post, every video, every speech, every photo and every painting, I am telling a tiny portion of my own story. Whitman obviously agreed saying, “The body and the mind are inseparable. To whip a man’s body was to whip a man’s soul.” And it is this idea that begins to show how we as human beings truly feel everything in our lives, whether we know it or not. Everything we do, everything we experience is interconnected, thus, the substance of feeling is born.

Something I take great pride and passion in is learning. It is paramount to my life not only as a write and speaker, but as a person. I value growth. And George Eliot in the chapter, “The Biology of Freedom,” showcases how man’s mind is not set in stone. In fact, she argued that the mind was “not cut in marble.” Lehrer writes with incredible prose:

“Every limit is a beginning as well as an ending,” Eliot confesses in Middlemarch. Our situation provides the raw material our of which we make our way, and while it is important “never to beat and bruise one’s wings against the inevitable,” it is always possible “to throw the whole force of one’s soul towards the achievement of some possible better.” You can always change your life.

We can always change our life. It is about believing that you have the power to do so; to make the changed needed.

If science teaches us anything it is that we don’t know much. But if life teaches us anything is is that we are always learning, always challenging and that eventually, science can (and often does), provide the how and the why something is happening.

Overall, this book deserves a read. The last few chapters seemed to lack the punch of the first half of the book, but nevertheless, the fact still remains, art and science are linked. Very linked. You just have to want to listen.

FOCUS: Ask & Learn!

Selected Life Lesson
Raising a teenage child in this day and age is hell.
-Dale C’s Life Lesson from Cape Girardeau, Missouri

Richard’s Thoughts…
I’m not a parent and I’ve only been the child. But even with that information in mind, I have no idea what it is like to not only be a child in this decade, nor what it is like to raise one.

But I also know that my grandparents would have probably said the same thing about raising my parents and my parents would – and probably do – say the same thing about raising myself and my two siblings. But just like raising a kid right now is tough, so is being one.

And that’s where the lesson is this week. We can all learn a lot from each other. In fact, we can learn an incredible amount from each other, young and old. So, what do you want to know? Find someone, ask, and learn.

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FOCUS: Action!

Selected Life Lesson
You aren’t judged on your words, you are judged on your actions.
-Austin S’ Life Lesson from Basehor, Kansas

Richard’s Thoughts…
It doesn’t matter how it is said, but we have all heard Austin’s lesson before. But only recently have I been needed to be told this again. For me, it came from two people. One, someone I consider a friend and serious mentor, Gary Vaynerchuk. We had a meeting and he basically said you need to do XYZ. Don’t ask questions, just do it.

Sure. Right. Then I had a meeting with someone who is only two years older than me and faced similar life questions at nearly the same time in his life as I am now. That said, we had just met and as we ate our dinners he pushed me, and not gently. Sitting across from me, he basically told me, not unlike Gary, that I needed to do ABC.

Then it hit me. I needed to get going; and now. I can talk as good as anyone, but I need to do. And that’s what I’m doing now. Actions always speak louder than words and I’m excited to start showing what I’m doing, so stay tuned. But here is my question for you: What words do you want to turn into actions today?

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All In or All Out

Early in the movie Tommy Boy, “Big Tom Callahan” is trying to convince the bank to give him a loan for a major business expansion. He tells the banker, “In business, you’re either growing or you’re dying. There ain’t no third direction.” And he’s right. Anyone who has worked a day in their life knows that a business can’t sustain itself if their line remains flat. And a business certainly can’t survive if the line goes downward.

And I am writing today to take this a step further: your life.

While it may not be as drastic as losing your company, you can and will lose your passion and focus if this question is not answered in the affirmative each and every day.

All in on life

I played tennis in high school. I started my career near the bottom of the junior varsity ladder. I had a lot to learn about the game and hard work. But I slowly worked my way up to No. 6 by the start of my senior campaign. And it wasn’t easy. The people ahead of me had earned their positions, but some of them took it for granted. Sure, they did work, but not always as hard and sometimes even half-assed practices. I never did that. When I was on the court, I always came to work and get better.

Playing on that team is one of my fondest memories and it is because of the lessons I take with me, especially from my wonderful coach, John McKay. He pushed us ridiculously hard for a boy’s tennis team. But I’m glad he did. He made me a better player and a better person.

But I remember one practice in particular one of the five people ranked above me was not trying in practice and it was terribly obvious. When we met each other in line, I called him out. It didn’t have much impact because I was lower on the line, but I stood my ground. Sure, I took it seriously, but I firmly believe anything worth doing is worth doing right.

In sports, and in life, I believe if you half-ass practice, the performance will be the same. And that quite simply is a waste of time and talent.

So, I’m taking this lesson from Gary Hirshberg and trying to ask myself each and every day, “Are you in, or are you out?

If you’re in, go all in. Double-down. Bet the house.

photo via malico

Newsletter: Execute Now

This is part of my monthly newsletter (which is free, by the way)! Sign up here to get it delivered to your mailbox each month!

The definition of execute is quite dramatic: “to carry out; accomplish; to execute a plan or order. But it is definitely true. I mean, think about it.

When you take a plan or an idea and you decide to make it happen, you execute it. You take the plan and put it into action. That’s why this year is going to be exciting.

For me, my goal for this year was simple: Build Something. I thought I had been building something, and to a certain extent I was, but I needed to shoot bigger. Now for 2012, I’m not sure what I am going to build, but I’m slowly getting clarity on that.

Why Now?
You may be asking yourself: Why Richard, are you executing your plan now? Haven’t you been doing that for the past five years?

Well, that is a complicated answer. But it is yes and no. I thought I was. But then I realized after two recent conversations that I really was not executing on my goals.

So now, I am doubling-down and working to make it happen.

What If I Fail?
What is the worst that can happen? I don’t reach this goal and I find something else to chase after? I lose some time? I lose some money?

I can chase another passion. I can find time. And I can always make more money.

Failure is a part of life. In fact, it’s essential. Think about it: What if you won at everything you did?! How would you ever grow?

An old saying in this genre goes something like this:

Don’t let the turkeys get you down.

And “turkeys” can mean anything. It can mean your friends. Your family. Your coworkers. Your significant other. Anyone who says you can’t do something. Maybe they are right that you won’t be successful, but only you will know the outcome if you do something about it.

Don’t Procrastinate
Years ago, I fell in love with Ellen DeGeneres. This was before her hit daytime talk show back when she was doing stand-up comedy. Her set had a great running joke about how easily distracted she was working at home.

Her line at the end of the set was simple: “Procrastinate now. Don’t put it off.” While it is a funny line, it is not how anyone with a dream or goals should think.

If you don’t do something about your dreams and your goals, who will?

It is your story to tell. It is your movie script to write and your painting to paint.

So what if you fail? I mean, seriously … so the hell what! Go make it happen.

Take the plan and execute it.