— More on adopting a process-oriented approach to goal setting, which I touched on above and also wrote a little about last week. As athletes, as employees, as a society in general, we’re often fixated on achieving outcomes, whether it’s setting a personal best, hitting a sales goal, you name it. And while there’s nothing inherently wrong with having specific outcome goals, failing to achieve those predetermined targets can often result in feelings of failure and frustration. I’ve certainly been there, as have all of you. But I also know that when I’ve “set it and forget it” (in regard to outcome goals) and committed to the process—and, perhaps most importantly, found joy in that never-ending process—my best tastes of “success” have often resulted. To echo the wise words of one of my favorite writers and wildmen, Hunter S. Thompson: “In short, he has not dedicated his life to reaching a pre-defined goal, but he has rather chosen a way of life he KNOWS he will enjoy. The goal is absolutely secondary: it is the functioning toward the goal which is important.”
— Are you listening? A few weeks ago I linked to a great New York Times article on friendship, which got me thinking about the characteristics a good friend actually brings to the table. The first thing that came to mind for me was being an astute listener, meaning a good friend won’t just nod and agree with everything you have to say but rather they’ll question you, challenge your assertions and force you to look at something through a different lens. In other words, “Good listeners are like trampolines. They are someone you can bounce ideas off of—and rather than absorbing your ideas and energy, they amplify, energize, and clarify your thinking.” That’s from Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman in the Harvard Business Review. Check it out.
— When I lace up my running shoes and shove my ass out the door, it represents a choice that I’ve made that day. I’ve elected to move my body in a meaningful way even if it’s not the most pleasant experience once I get out there. I could just as easily plop my ass on the couch and eat all the ice cream in the freezer—and sometimes I do— but when I hit the ground running it cultivates a unique sense of accomplishment, freedom and enjoyment. Running is my most regular ritual, and there’s always some element of risk involved. It helps bring me closer to the earth and also keeps me grounded emotionally. Running allows me to uncover things inside myself and also unites me with other likeminded souls. On some days, it can exhaust me to dangerous levels and on others it will energize me like nothing else. But most of all, running forces me to live in the present moment, helps me make sense of my experience as a human being and allows me to better appreciate the world around me. As John L. Parker wrote in Once A Runner, “Running to him was real; the way he did it the realest thing he knew. It was all joy and woe, hard as a diamond; it made him weary beyond comprehension. But it also made him free.” Parker’s words are consistent with my own experience and I thought of them recently when I read this Maria Popova piece on Diana Ackerman’s Deep Play, which was sent to me by my friend Galen Burrell. “In rare moments of deep play, we can lay aside our sense of self, shed time’s continuum, ignore pain, and sit quietly in the absolute present, watching the world’s ordinary miracles,” writes Ackerman. “When it happens we experience a sense of revelation and gratitude. Nothing need be thought or said. There is a way of beholding that is a form of prayer.” Sound familiar? This is running for me. It’s my form of deep play and I feel fortunate to experience it.