“In life and in fitness …”
I start more sentences that way than I care to admit, probably as a result of the four years I spent figuring out how to quit my job, build the team that writes aSweatLife.com and force my way into becoming a subject matter expert on the burgeoning studio fitness scene.
I’ve found - in my research, in building my business, in the classes that I teach - that the way a person handles the stress inflicted on her body in a particularly tough training session, is parallel to how she’ll perform in other intense situations.
And in that sweat you leave on the floor at the gym, there are some pretty big lessons that you can take into business.
Work to failure
In the gym, you get your biggest gains from failing. You work until your body quits and it’s in that moment of perceived weakness that you get stronger. Your body rebuilds and next time you try, it’s capable of more. It’s easy to try to avoid those moments – to avoid failure by only playing in territory that’s familiar and a little less risky.
In business, moments of failure, but more importantly how you deal with that failure, are the times you get stronger and break past your limits.
Set goals and achieve them
There’s that moment three seconds from the end of a set when a trainer starts to count down, shouting “Three, two, one …”
The second she says the word, “three,” half of the class stops what they’re doing because the end is a couple of seconds away. I’d argue that those last three seconds are the most important. There’s a grit in finishing what you started.
Even if it’s just for your own benefit, make it a habit to complete the things you start –unless those things detract from your overall goal.
There’s a difference between choices and chances
Once in a while you get lucky and you make a free throw after a three-year hiatus from the basketball court. That’s chance. When fortune favors you, be ready to pounce.
The rest of the time, realize that it’s up to you to choose the right path, the hard path, the path that will make you stronger. The choices that you make determine what kind of life, what kind of success and what kind of business relationships you’ll have. Lean more heavily on choice than chance.
The everything-hurts-and-I’m-dying feeling isn’t forever
There comes a point in a tough workout at which you think to yourself, “This is terrible and I can’t go on.” But you can and you do. Maybe you have to shake your legs out a little bit (which, by the way, does absolutely nothing) or take a sip of water, but you get back in the game and you finish what you started.
The thing known as the trough of sorrow in a startup is very real, but there are also tough projects, budget shortfalls and other stressful business events that feel like they’re going to last forever. Hang onto why you started and be resilient enough to make it through those times.
Everything is better with friends
There’s a reason why group fitness has exploded in popularity over the past four years. Human beings crave connection and community. Even if you talk to no one in your hour-long workout, the energy of the group around you is going to push you to try harder without even realizing it.
When I started aSweatLife.com, I wanted to share the group fitness classes that I loved, but it ended up being a lonely pursuit. I was spending hours working by myself, talking to readers I’d never met.
When I finally accepted help, built a team, nurtured partnerships and started to actively pursue real-life community, things got exponentially more fun.
In life and in fitness, it’s not going to be easy, but if you’ve made the right choices and surround yourself with the right team, you’ll end up solving the kind of problems that make you jump out of bed each morning.
Starting with a little background, I am an anti-bullying advocate and have recently graduated from The Parent Leadership Training Institute, where as part of our studies we were asked to come up with a community project close to our hearts and put it into action. My cause was bullying, and I began a blog and Facebook page to address issues pertaining to all forms of bullying. Implementing this project was followed by a thre- minute speech to my peers, and, after all this, here is what I have learned about bullying.
Bullying makes people feel bad about themselves, leading to feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem and even physical symptoms. The repercussions of bullying can cause people to miss school or work as well as countless other negative side effects.
I have been bullied both at school and at work, and I know of others who have suffered the same plight. It is not fun!
My first bullying experience was in seventh grade as a young teen. There was a group of three "mean girls" who harassed me and, I later found out, several of my friends; they thought it was funny to pick on others about their clothes, their looks or whatever else they could come up with (who knows). It felt awful at the time. Supposedly, I was chosen to get picked on because they claimed I bought my clothes at the Goodwill. That wasn't true, but really who cares? Why they were picking on me was never really the point. Luckily, after a while, the meanies went on to the next victim(s) like a never-ending cycle. I tend to think once a bully, always a bully, which goes to show how good a lifestyle that is, because those "mean girls" never amounted to much. In hindsight, I feel sorry for them. Watch the movie The Gift if you're really curious about what happens to bullies when they grow up.
And bullying was not just an issue when I was a teen, since then nothing much has changed. My own nephew was bullied in eighth grade, and he recently talked to me in depth about of how the bullying took a toll on him. Especially because I had the same experience, I could relate to him in ways that some others couldn't. Like reliving my own memories, I was incredibly broken up to hear how it made him feel.
Even worse than that, bullying does not end in the school yard. Employees are being bullied on the job at an alarming rate. When you are bullied on the job as an adult, it taken an even bigger toll. Further it doesn't just go away like those middle school "mean girls." Unless you can quit your job, you might just be stuck. There are all kinds of physical symptoms, stomach pains, migraines and even panic attacks. Beyond the physical, people's mental and emotional state is extremely sensitive to bullying, and as a result work performance might suffer. Furthermore, it might feel like there is no recourse, no one to believe you. You can hope that the HR Department is willing to listen and do something about it, but the whole process can be so disheartening. And in the hierarchical corporate environment, sometimes the bully seems to get ahead and you are left lagging behind in a subservient position. This is what happened to me as a victim of workplace bullying. It started with me being told by a co-worker that my boss was following me to the bathroom, staring down the hall whenever I left my desk to make sure I came right back to my seat. Then it was standing over me as I typed, ordering me to get in a car with them, not allowing me to sit somewhere if it wasn't within their sight. The list of offenses could go on endlessly. There were times I felt like I couldn't breathe. And then, the bully torturing me got a promotion. Like the character of Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada, the classic bully is revered by her peers, despite the fact that all of her employees are terrified of her. Yet, she is in a role of high stature and praised as a bully. We live in a culture that is not only complacent in the existence of bullies, but one that actively allows them to thrive.
It makes you realize how unfair life can be. Of course, no one said that life would be fair; maybe you just assumed that bad people would not get ahead. But, they do. Even now, I cannot help but to shake my head in disbelief. I often wonder what makes a person feel the need to laud their power over another. Are they insecure? Were they bullied themselves? They must feel bad about themselves in some way? Do they feel the need to do this to make themselves look good? Whatever the reason, it certainly isn't nice at all. I have found myself at different times in my life standing up for people who have been bullied around me. And I certainly do not allow anyone to treat me in any way that I find disrespectful. I truly believe in karma, and I tell myself that at some point in time, the bullies will get it back in some way. I have seen it happen, and in the meantime, I just say to myself "What goes around, comes around."
Bullying shows no sign of slowing down, and in this day and age, it's even worse than I have experienced in the past. Cyber bulling, rumors, fist fights, knifes, guns and other forms of both mental and physical cruelty, it truly sickens me. I know that I cannot save everyone, but I try to be an advocate as much as possible and encourage others to do so as well. NO ONE SHOULD BULLIED! It is disgraceful to say the least. You should always practice grace as much as you can. With every person who chooses to do so, the world gets a little bit better. I will be writing more on this topic on a regular basis; I feel it helps to talk about this subject aloud and spread the word. and, if nothing else, be kind.