For years, on this blog, I wrote about business, the millionaire mindset, making money or other things from the same category. I wrote ebooks on those topics and I also gave interviews. And many of you enjoyed it. To be honest, I enjoyed it too.
Creating a niche is useful, it makes you easily identifiable. If you do your job right, people will slowly start to associate the niche you’re writing about with you. In other circles, this is also known as “branding”. So, when people will want to know more about business, the millionaire mindset or making money, they will come to this blog.
But there is a small danger in this approach. The danger is that I may lose authenticity. And I think authenticity is important. It’s important to know that behind this blog there’s a real person, just like you.
In all honesty, business, the millionaire mindset or making money or business are NOT everything I do in my life. I don’t wake up in the morning thinking how to make money, I don’t spend my evenings creating business strategies and, believe me, I’m not spending my weekends crafting millionaire mindsets. As much as I like to do all those things, they are not the only ones I do. In other words, I do have a life.
If you read this blog regularly, you noticed that in the last 2 years I started to add articles about other stuff than personal development or business. Specifically, I started to write about running.
The main reason for this is that running, as a lifestyle, can be enormously beneficial. It’s such a simple thing to do, yet the consequences, on nearly all levels of your life: physical, emotional or mental, are incredibly powerful.
A few weeks ago, I had the chance to use an “intelligent” weighing scale, one that uses impedance gauging in order to extract all sort of useful information about your body, other than just your weight. Here’s what I found out:
- I weigh 79.5 kilograms. (3 years ago I was weighing around 95 kilos)
- My body fat percentage is 17.9%. (3 years ago I had around 25-26%).
- My metabolic age is 30 years. (I am 45 years old).
I guess you got the idea. These are just some measurable pieces of information about the change that running created into my body, but, apart from this, there are also things way too subtle to be measured, like my emotional stability, my mental sharpness or my overall endurance capabilities.
I’m not gonna transform this post into a running apology, don’t worry. But I wanted to have a clear field set up before we go into more important stuff.
The Moving Wall
When I went for my first run, 3 years ago, I couldn’t do it for more than 300 meters. My head was exploding and I choked. I had to stop, regain my breath and start all over. I went home after this first run very frustrated.
But I didn’t stop. In a few days I came back in the park and tried to run again. This time it was better. I was able to run uninterruptedly 500 meters. Big achievement.
In a few weeks I was able to run 1 kilometer. I’m very, very honest with you when I’m telling that I felt like a god. 1 kilometer was a huge, huge milestone for me. Like a wall I had to break. Little did I know at that time that those walls are moving. The more you try, the weaker they become. And they move forward.
Time went by and what once was a limit, became a memory. I went over a few moving walls during the last 3 years. I went to 5km races, then 10km races, semi-marathons, mountain semi-marathons, then marathons and, lately, ultra-marathons. Last week I finished my first 100km race, in 12 hours and 33 minutes.
One Of My Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals for This Year: 220 km Around Lake Balaton
And, finally, after more than 10 minutes of reading, we’re getting to the point of this article. My “big, hairy, audacious goal”.
What is a “big, hairy, audacious goal”, or BHAG? It’s a goal so scary, so big, so different from your current situation, that almost feels impossible.
3 years ago, when I could barely run 1 kilometer, a BHAG would have been running a 10km race.
And when I was able to run 10km, a BHAG would have been a 100km race.
Right now, I want to run a 220km race, with a cut-off time of 32 hours. It’s one huge lap around lake Balaton, in Hungary, at the end of May (30th May, to be more precise).
Of course, it’s not something that I decided yesterday. I took the decision last year, and I also (briefly) announced it in some places. But it’s the first time I write about it extensively on this blog.
There are 2 reasons about that: one, it’s a huge milestone in terms of personal development, and two, it also has a social cause linked to it: not only will I run 220km, but I also want to raise money for a charity I support, called “Scoala de Valori” (The Values School), a charity which creates special programs for exceptional teenagers. But more on that in a few minutes.
Let’s take them one at a time. The personal development part, namely, the BHAG part.
I admit that I was intimidated when I first read about Ultrabalaton (that’s the name of the race). At that time, the longest I ran was 60 km. Less than a third of Ultrabalaton. So, I wasn’t even remotely prepared for it.
But it was the intimidating part that was drawing me into it. The scariness. The unknown. The mystery. Will I be able to do it? How would I feel after I cross this limit? How will I feel while I’ll cross this limit? These questions, as hard to answer as they were, created some sort of red string that eventually led to the final decision: I have to do this!
A BHAG takes you out of the comfort zone brutally. It creates such a contrast with your current context that, in the process of reaching it, virtually your entire world will collapse. And a new one will be created. At the end of the process, your new world will be unrecognizable. That’s scary.
But that’s also very, very useful. The ability to identify and to commit to BHAGs, as strange as it may look from “the outside” is a key ingredient in succeeding in any other area of life. At least, that’s what I learned in the last 25 years.
There are a few mechanisms by which BHAGs are “crafting” you as a successful person, but I’d like to talk only about 2: first, it’s the “aim high” approach, and second, it’s the “learning curve” approach.
The first mechanism is about how high you aim. You know those motivational posters on Facebook: “aim for the stars, so, even if you fail, you’ll still reach to the moon”? It’s somehow similar. If you set up an incredibly high goal, even if you reach just 10% of it, you’ll be way better off than before. (In my case, this is about the fundraising part, not about the race. The race is still 220km and I won’t settle for 10% of it 🙂 )
And I think now it’s the moment to tell you more about the fundraising part. As I told you, I support an NGO, but I do this in a rather structured way. I don’t just tell people to donate for that NGO, I actually “sell steps” around the Balaton. I basically sell each step around lake Balaton for 1 RON. So, the fundraising goal (the BHAG related to fundraising, to be more precise) it’s about 220.000 RON. Around 52.000 USD. A LOT of money. In a very, very short time frame.
But, as I told you, aiming this high created an interesting result: in just a few weeks I raised more than in ALL my previous fundraising campaigns combined. At the moment of writing this, I raised 2349 RON, around 550 USD. Even if, in the grand scheme of things, this is just 1% of the BHAG, it’s more than I ever raised with my running activities. So, that’s one way a BHAG can create success.
The second mechanism by which BHAGs are making you more successful is the “learning curve”. Because they are so far away outside your comfort zone, they’re literally forcing you to learn new stuff in an accelerated way. And learning is always good. I think I learned about long distance running AND fundraising, in the last few months, more than I learned in my entire life. And I’m still 5-6 weeks before the race.
Current Status And Training Routine
I write this during a silent weekend somewhere near the mountains, at my parents house. I think this is the first “vacation” weekend I took since I started Connect Hub, exactly one year ago. I just finished a 10km training, trying to take advantage of the hilly surface here. It almost didn’t feel like a training at all, more like a walk in the park.
I train 4 times a week. 2 times I do hills or speed training and the rest of 2 I do long runs, either back to back or longer, like the last 100km race about I already wrote here.
Since I never run such a long race I’m having a hard time telling if I’m prepared or not. All I know is that I have a good mental attitude (meaning I simply can’t wait to go there and to start running) and I am taking a lot of care not to injure myself during trainings. Time will tell.
Ok, So You Want To Donate
So, you already have some ideas about what a BHAG is, you understood why am I doing this, and you feel compelled to make a donation. Good.
All you have to do is to follow this link and then to click on the green button (the text may be in Romanian, but just look for the part that says: “Vreau sa fac o donatie”, which means ‘I want to donate”).
One more word about the fundraising part: this blog post is not a sales pitch. I didn’t take you here just to make you click the green button. Don’t go there if you’re not convinced you’re doing it for a good cause and don’t do it if you’re not 100% congruent with yourself. Ok? Thanks 🙂
During the next few weeks I won’t have many long runs, but there will be a few other sporting events that I’m gonna take part in. All of them are just part of the training for the big one. So, if there will be enough interesting material to share about this BHAG and the steps I’m taking to make it real, I’ll share them here.
Stay tuned :).
(Photo credit: Radu Cristi.)
Running For My Life - from zero to ultramarathoner
The spooky thing about depression is that it sneaks in. There aren’t really trumpets and loud voices announcing: “Hail, hail, this is depression entering the room, all rise!” Nope. It’s slow, silent, creepy. It doesn’t even look like depression. It starts with small isolation thoughts like: “Maybe I shouldn’t get out today, I just don’t feel like going out”. And then it does the same next day. And then the day after that and so on. And then it starts to whisper louder and louder in your ears: “Why would you go outside, you loser? Didn’t have enough yet? Want more people to make fun of how much of a big, fat loser you are?”
And then you start to breath in guilt and shame, instead of air. Every breathe you take is putting more dark thoughts into your body.
Until you get stuck. You can’t move anymore. At all.
If you want to know how I got out of this space, eventually, check out my latest book on Amazon and Kindle.