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Pick A Line

How many things are happening right now while you read this? Is your email box chiming? Your phone message light blinking? Your to-do list staring you in the face?

Every day it seems that my world becomes more intrusive. I struggle to find that calm I need to focus on where I want to be. What does success look like this week, or month or year for me? How can I make that success a reality when I have so many things “to-do” right now? I am crossing things off, one by one, but my list never seem to get any shorter.

Working hard has never been my problem. On Tuesday nights I run the hills with my team by my local running store. Our team runs for a little under an hour, and we cover about 3 miles; not a fast effort by any means. Until recently, the hills were covered in snow and ice, so much so that we wear metal spikes on our shoes. Each time we step it is a dance between our bodies, nature and the elements.

We run up, we run down. We run down, we run up. It’s that type of struggle.

This past week we stood at the bottom of a particularly treacherous hill and our coach told us repeatedly that we needed to “Pick a line.” This is his reminder that as the runner we need to choose where we want to end up before we start our trek. We must concentrate on the spot at the top of the hill where we want to finish. Unconsciously this action causes us to tip slightly forward, our head and eyes stay focused upwards and our body drives to our sight line. We take our emphasis off the rocks below us and in doing so, we release the fear that may cause hesitation.

Hesitation is of course the enemy here—the root of many trail disasters. Injuries caused by focus placed on the distractions experienced under foot or crashing into objects because you have your head down. As I ran that hill I played it over in mind, how this mantra extrapolates to accomplishing goals in business. By concentrating on the end objective (our line) it changes and reinforces our progression towards our end results.

On Monday morning it is easy to pour your coffee and tell yourself “THIS is the week I will accomplish everything I need to do in order to hit my goal.” On Tuesday an angry customer calls, or a sales partner needs a document urgently, or insert any other crazy event that erupts to take you away from those milestones you promised yourself you would complete. Without thinking twice we switch into volunteer firemen, putting out the blazes one by one. All of sudden we pick our head up and it’s time to leave on Friday.

How’d that happen we wonder? What happened to the 40 plus hours I so badly needed? And with just 52 weeks in a year, how many more weeks can you really afford to lose?

In the novel The Alchemist an old king tells a young shepherd, “When you really want something to happen, the whole universe conspires so that your wish comes true.”

“Pick a line” reminds us to keep our eyes up and our movement pushing towards our target. Fires, much like rocks, will always be there. They will trip us, and cause us to fall or miss deadlines. The ice and snow is ready to move us in one direction, our metal spikes dig in and push us in another. Take that moment before you step to determine your line—how you will finish this run.

Don’t hesitate—pick a line and crush that hill like you know you can.