Let’s talk about that voice in your head.
Don’t worry, almost everyone has that voice. This isn’t about mental illness or space aliens communicating with you. It’s your voice as you talk to yourself. You should think about it. It’s important to your performance, satisfaction and well being.
Let me introduce you to someone you should know. His name is Chadd Wright (that’s a photo of Chadd at the top of this article). I met Chadd at the 29029 endurance event I did in Vermont last year. Chadd’s an ultra marathon runner, coach, public speaker and former Navy Seal. Oh, and his beard game is strong.
In June, he won the Mid-State Mile, affectionally know as the “murder mile.” The Mid-State is a “last man standing” race. To win all you have to do is run a mile every 20 minutes. The course is hilly with a total of 340 feet of elevation gain.
Shoot a lot of us can walk a mile in 20 minutes. Right? But every 20 minutes you have to start a new mile. If you don’t finish the mile in under 20 minutes, you are disqualified. Or if you aren’t at the starting line when they blow the whistle to start the next mile, you’re disqualified.
The winner is the last runner to complete a mile in 20 minutes after everyone else has been disqualified.
You can try it at your local school track. Find a nice flat track. Cover a mile every 20 minutes. Need a bathroom break or food? You’ll need to finish your mile faster than 20 minutes so you have a few minutes to eat or take care of your business. Want to sit down and rest? No problem, just come in fast enough that you can rest the remainder of the allotted 20 minutes.
That’s the diabolical genius of the event. You aren’t racing anyone but yourself and the clock. You don’t know how long the race will last. You aren’t trying to go faster than anyone…you just have to cover that mile in 20 minutes more times than anyone else.
Chadd answered the call to run the mile 89 times in a row. Something like 29 hours of covering a mile every 20 minutes. 3 miles an hour for 29 hours. 28,000 feet of vertical gain. Part of the first day it was over 90 degrees and then rained. Heat. Mud. Rain. Exhaustion….good times.
He won. He’s someone who knows about more than the theory of performance and enduring.
At 29029, Chadd and I talked about the power of what you tell yourself. I do some endurance events, and he recommended that I shouldn’t give my pain or fatigue a voice during events. Rather than talking to myself about how tired I was or how much my quads were cramping. He said I should say to myself: “I don’t get tired.” Well, he actually said, “Yell it out: ‘I don’t get tired!’”
I ignored his advice. My self-esteem isn’t good enough to yell something to myself in front of other people. And it seemed a little bit too much…I don’t know, squishy.
I struggled completing 29029.
Since then, I’ve been experimenting with Chadd’s advice on my runs. And there’s truth here you should consider even if you never do any running. I’ve experimented with it, and he’s right. There’s something powerful in telling yourself “I don’t get tired.” There’s a swirl of real mental judo at play here. It’s not magic. But if I shift the words in my head, I’m focusing away from the fatigue, which reduces my fatigue.
The other phrase he recommended is “Finish Strong.” I’ve been telling myself that on the last mile (and last part of that last mile). My times on that last mile are consistently faster.
For a long time, I’ve known that we believe the voice in our head more than any other voice. We believe what we say about ourselves to ourselves more than any other opinion.
As you lead. As you work. As you exercise your responsibilities. What are you saying to yourself?
What do you say to yourself when no one but you can hear?
What I find fascinating about how Chadd’s advice works is that these are empirical measures. A mile is a mile. A minute is a minute. Running faster and longer are facts not perceptions. And if this mental game can improve physical performance, then it makes sense that it will impact your mental and emotional performance as well, right?
A place to begin might be to simply pay attention to what you tell yourself as you work.
How are you giving voice to your pain?
How are you giving voice to shame?
How are you giving voice to negativity?
How are you giving voice to your doubt?
How are you giving voice to your fears?
How are you giving voice to your insecurities?
And then look to replace that with your version of “finish strong” or “I don’t get tired.”
Maybe it’s something like:
“I hit my deadlines.”
“I finish my projects.”
“I relate well with my team.”
“I know how to lead the board.”
“I can do this.”
Give it a try.
Change what you say to yourself and listen to that voice.
Let me know what you think (I was a doubter, too).
I’m grateful for our connection. I always enjoy hearing from you.
You can reach me at sthomas AT Oneicity DOT com
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