Ever since I was in high school, running has been my preferred method of self-flagellation. There’s kind of a yin and yang quality to an activity that can be so grueling, and yet so rewarding. I started out with walking for hours on end, first as I was working a paper route as a kid, and then just to be alone with my thoughts. When I was about 12, I discovered all that walking had helped me develop the stamina to be a pretty good distance runner and it was an activity that complemented my wanderlust.
Over the years, I’ve consistently been able to find refuge and fulfillment in the peace of running. To a certain degree, I never quite realized my potential as a runner. My performance pretty much peaked when I was in high school, running about a 5-minute mile. Now more than ever, though, I recognize that success and winning aren’t about sheer speed and peak performance, as much as endurance and steady performance over the long haul. That’s not to suggest that going slow is a winning strategy. As I mention in the video, I believe a good pace is about being intentional about your efforts and investing energy for maximum effect.
About a month ago, I was out running on a five-mile route around my home here in Utah. My mile times for several months had been pretty steady around 8:30 and I hadn’t been making much progress in terms of speed. On this particular day, I was pretty lethargic and didn’t know if I had it in me to do the whole route. Feeling a little short of breath after the first couple miles, I switched from exhaling every fifth step to exhaling every fourth step. Remarkably, after the third mile my mile time had decreased by several seconds. I kept this new rhythm and ran the next two miles each in under 8 minutes. Just a small change had shifted my performance into a higher gear.
It seems like one of the biggest challenges in life is finding a balance between all of the things we feel we should be doing, and the more limited subset of things to which we actually allocate our time and attention. Personally, I often struggle with feeling like there are so many really important things that I should be doing, but only finding time to do a small fraction of those things. Who can relate?
Recently, I had a realization about the difference between a scarcity mentality, versus an abundance mentality. The scarcity mentality is characterized by the idea that there’s not enough to go around, and the only way that I can have more is to take it from someone else. The abundance mentality, in contrast, focuses on what I do have and the belief that there’s more than enough to go around if I will just go out and get it. It’s the glass half empty or half full question, applied more to economics and resource management. Lately I’ve started to recognize that these principles also apply to how I manage my time. I think that the scarcity mindset tends to be the default for most of us, especially with regard to time. There never seems to be enough of it, it goes too fast, and once it’s gone, I can’t get it back. The perception defines the reality, though. If I focus on what I don’t have, my resources are minimized, but focusing on what I do have maximizes those resources.
One story that illustrates this is a conversation that I had with a relative a while ago. He was on his soap box complaining about how the system is geared against us, it’s impossible for the little guy to succeed, the rich keep getting richer and the poor keep getting poorer, and we’re all destined to spend the rest of our lives in poverty. He had been dealing with some difficult circumstances in his life and I understood where he was coming from, but I just couldn’t buy in to his argument. I asserted that wealth isn’t about judging ourselves by the standard of someone else who has more than we do, but rather it is a reflection of the realization that we are already rich. My friend James Melton recently told me of the R.A.T. process: Recognizing the resources that we have available to us, Acknowledging that we already have everything that we need to achieve our goals, and being Thankful for what we have. These simple steps helped me to change my attitude from a scarcity mindset to an abundance mindset.
This is all kind of a roundabout way of expressing gratitude for the abundance I have in my life. It may be a little cliche to do it right at Thanksgiving, but it’s something I’ve reflected on a lot in recent months. I’m grateful to have a background of experience that has brought me to a point where I’m pursuing purpose in my life. I’m grateful to have passion that drives me each day to dedicate my time and efforts to doing something really amazing. I’m humbled to have family members, friends, and associates who really support and encourage me to chase my dreams. That’s been especially underscored the last few weeks as I’ve been reaching out to raise money for my trip to Mt. Everest Base Camp, and the response has been amazing! I feel especially blessed to have this perspective of abundance. One of the things I love most about the dream of going to Mars and onward to the rest of the universe is that for all practical intents and purposes, it’s limitless. There is no scarcity of resources, of space, or even of time. The scarcity mindset that fuels so much conflict among mankind, that underscores our differences and espouses an us-versus-them mentality—it all fades away when we tap into the abundance of the cosmos. For that, I’m truly thankful.