Open Your Eyes to Find Inspiration and Ideas

This Monday I was exercising at a place called Orange Theory. The classes I take are run by an instructor coaching attendees who are rowing, running on the treadmill and participating in weight exercises for a full body workout that lasts an average of 55 minutes or so.

On this day I was working to complete my personal best in a timed one mile run. Hours before the class started, I was pumping myself up and strategizing about how I was going to attack the run because my goal was to demolish my past time benchmark. By the time I walked into the studio, my heart rate was already spiking and my body was full of adrenaline. As everyone knows, it’s nice to have a plan, but when you are in the thick of things, feeling the lactic acid build up in your entire body and gasping for oxygen while your heart rate is literally maxed to 99% and your chest feels like it’s about to explode, it’s really, really easy for your mind to play tricks on you – and to convince you that it’s really not worth it.

When I speak to audiences, I often stress that the easiest thing to do in life when you feel pain, when you feel the frustration of failure, when you feel your being cheated, when things aren’t going your way, when the door has been shut on you for the 40th time, is to simply QUIT, which for me is also the worst four-letter word in the dictionary. But as I’ve grown older, I’ve come to realize that “Effort only fully releases its reward after a person refuses to quit!” as said eloquently by Napoleon Hill, an American self-help author.

My first quarter-mile was at a pace about 15% faster than I’ve been training, and my mind was saying, “You’re good Troy,” but my heart rate monitor was sending very different signals. With .2 of a mile left, I was done. I simply didn’t think I was going to make it one more step and was talking myself into taking a quick break, “Just walk for a second to get rid of the pain.” At that point, a fellow attendee, 24-year-old Trey, dismounted his treadmill finishing at a 5:38 mile. It was at this point that I took the moment to recognize my own surroundings. I looked in the mirror at myself, found determination deep from within and pushed my speed button on the treadmill several times. I thought to myself, “I can endure the pain for two more minutes!” and I did. I finished my personal best mile time since being a 1st lieutenant in the US Army over 30 years ago.

Why do I tell you this story? As I told Trey about 20 minutes after the run – if it weren’t for him, I would have failed. If I would not have kept my eyes open to look for inspiration, I would have failed in my endeavor. Look up and look around, there are sources of inspiration, sources of motivation, sources of ideas and sources of intellect all around us. You just have to be willing to go find it, willing to allow yourself to absorb it – you have to be cognizant of your surroundings to find these little things that can have huge impacts on your life. 

 I told Trey, you just never know who you are influencing, whether it be on a treadmill, in a car, or in a staff meeting!