During a recent dinner with a few friends, the conversation turned towards running. They run. I run. We are all runners. Put a few runners in the same room and talking about running is inevitable.
We started to talk about upcoming runs, past runs, and our favorite routes.
We started to discuss weather and water, getting outside and getting older.
We started, and then the focus shifted.
“What’s your pace?”
Instead of talking about nutrition plans.
“What’s your pace?”
Instead of talking about the mental game of running.
“What’s your pace?”
Instead of talking about why we run and what it means to us.
“What’s your pace?”
Instead of talking about good runs, and bad runs, and the entire running journey.
“What’s your pace?”
It was the narrow and continuous focus that caught my attention. They kept asking, and I kept trying to steer the conversation away. I wanted to know so much more about them and their journey. I wanted to share more about running through my 50’s, trying to remain injury free, and the mental game of running.
Maybe I am the outlier, but I had an advantage that helped me notice what was happening.
Over the past few months, I have been both participating in, and coaching a Mental Fitness program. This program raised my awareness of my own tendency towards an overuse of achievement. This “hyper-achiever” inside me creates a cycle of constant performance and achievement for self-respect and self-validation with a focus on external success.
The conversation’s focus on pace, was triggering this “hyper-achiever” inside me. Combined with my internal narrator (or Judge) who judges myself and others (especially through comparison) wanted to share my pace and talk about my faster runs.
But comparison and competition is not what I want in conversations.
That goes for all conversations, not just the running ones.
What is the alternative?
Recognizing this pattern is the first step. The next step is learning to shift away from these default approaches, and establishing being curious as a practice. This curiosity helps you ask better questions and explore with the other person.
Instead of “What’s your pace?” try a few of these questions:
What are you struggling with?
What have you learned after all these years?
What has been your greatest success?
When do you feel at your best?
How can I help/support you on this journey?
Magic Bonus Question: The AWE question – And what else?
These questions apply to all of our conversations. Being curious and exploring brings us closer instead of creating competition that drives us apart.
For me, pace doesn’t matter, exploring and getting to really know other people brings the real magic.
Interested in improving your Mental Fitness? I have a few spaces remaining for the next group program. Contact me for details.
“This could have been better.” – I should have been better.
“It didn’t turnout the way I expected.” – I didn’t do a good enough job.
“I am disappointed in the results.” – I failed.
During a conversation with a friend I noticed a pattern. Whenever they talked about something they achieved, it was immediately followed by reasons why it didn’t either go as planned, or why it could have been better.
This pattern applied to all achievements, big or small.
Released something big and creative into the world? It was not the right time and it could have been better, and it wasn’t perfect, and it had “wrong notes.”
Connected with and helped someone else? It really didn’t go as planned and didn’t really provide any value, it perhaps even wasted their time.
It was as if every time they tried to build a small reminder of their achievement, something would come right behind them and start tearing it down.
They couldn’t take a moment to savor achieving anything, without experiencing a loss. As I spoke it out (despite sounding rhyming and goofy) it rang true.
“You don’t seem to be able to experience any achieving without experiencing a loss, almost like you are grieving at the same time of what could have been, or should have been.
Achieving and Grieving.
Patterns are so easy to recognize…in others.
As a reflected, I experience the same pattern. Trying to celebrate, only to be frustrated and sad when things do not turn out “good enough.”
Some of the grieving of what could have been is easy to shake off, other times it seems to linger in my mind. One particular example has stayed with me longer than I thought.
A little more than a year ago, I got to run a race with one of my kids. I trained hard and was ready. We started off and everything felt good. We joked and chatted. Shortly after the halfway mark, I stared to slow my pace. Something was wrong. During the last few miles I couldn’t keep going and had to walk.
They were totally patient with me and we did a run/walk combination to finally finish. We got our medals and went to the celebration party afterwards.
As I look back, the grieving completely took over any chance of being able to celebrate the achieving. This grieving would find its way into my mind during other runs, and I found myself walking again. The grieving from a prior event kept invading the present.
Unfortunately, the Achieving and Grieving pattern is not exclusive to running.
That presentation that didn’t seem to connect with everyone.
That proposal that was only partially accepted.
The [insert your achievement here] that [insert your grieving here].
Realizing my own Achieving and Grieving pattern was a great first step. Often I failed to celebrate the achievements along this journey because they are viewed through this cloudy lens of grief.
It is time to clean this lens.
It won’t be easy but I am practicing a new pattern.
I am working to separate the Achieving from the Grieving.
When I achieve something, no matter how small, I pause to recognize it.
And since my mind seems to want a second step, I am replacing the Grieving with Appreciating.
Appreciating the work involved in the project.
Appreciating the creativity in that new idea.
Appreciating writing (this blog) again.
Appreciating these 50 year old legs that will still carry me for miles.
Let’s experiment together.
For the next 30 days, let’s try this new pattern: Achieving and Appreciating.
I had the privilege of talking this out with them.
They explained the barriers. The things that prevent them from speaking up.
They explained the stress of finding not only the right words, but any words in the moment.
They explained about the constant overthinking and assigning motive.
They explained the constant reminders of the past.
“What is a way forward? What does finding your voice mean here? Where can you start?”
We talked about value, worth, and standing up and speaking up.
They agreed to try again. To set aside those events and triggers, and find their voice.
It wasn’t going to be easy, but the way forward would begin with looking for the next opportunity, pausing in the moment, and finding their voice despite the barriers. They were practicing, even in our conversation as the words poured out.
A few days later I got a message. The opportunity arrived. They found their voice and spoke up.
Despite the fear, and the anxiety, and all of the stuff that could get in the way, they took the leap and expressed their need.
They found their voice – AND – the organization responded!
The perceived barriers were not really our there in the organization, but created an internal barrier. These barriers were an historical lens that was not clearing seeing the present or the opportunities of today and future days.
How has the past, the prior interactions, and the triggers created internal barriers that silenced your voice?
How does finding your voice look moving forward?
How can you remember you worth and value to the organization and express what you need?
We are rooting for you, and look forward to hearing about how the organization, the person, the group, or the universe responds when you speak up!