5.6 Make your Move
EGL Newsletter Volume 5.6
When I was about 14, I started running on a school track team. I ran the mile and 880’s, never particularly well, but I enjoyed it enough to keep me running for a few decades after that. Our events were a lot like hanging out with friends on the weekends. You would spend the day at the track, most of the time watching your teammates in their various events or sitting in the stands talking about really important things.
We had a team mate who’s last name was Boone. He was small for his age, and ran the mile. He finished last every single race. At that point in adolescent development, there were huge differences between the competitors. He looked like he was years younger than the people he was racing, sometimes a foot and a half shorter. He was at a huge disadvantage. If you don’t know, 4 laps on the track around a standard American football field is one mile. One race, the front runners actually passed him up, they were on their fourth lap and he was on his third. The next race was setting up on the track when he finished.
As a teammate, we always cheered him on. We would stand up in the stands and call out to him “Make your move, Boone! Make your move!” He always did. Every last lap, every finish, even when he was running through the people waiting to start the next race, he straightened up, lengthened his stride, and sprinted in for the finish. Every single time. No matter how far behind, he still ran a race.
Three years later, he was still running the mile at track meets. However, a miraculous thing had happened. He had grown. Now over six feet tall, long legs, very athletic, and with a marvelous habit of racing. The major difference now was that he was winning. It always stuck with me, that years before he developed the physical ability to run that distance at winning speeds, he developed the mental ability and discipline to give his best against any odds. I always admired that, and the lesson stays with me. Thanks Boone.
This ability to assume a shape, a form, or an activity, even before you can be proficient at it, is called modeling. We create many models throughout our lives, and it is a primary way we learn as children and adolescents. However, once we reach adulthood, many people stop doing it. It is usually because our egos will not allow us to pose as something we are not, or we are afraid of being incompetent. This is a major reason that people stay the same, rather than growing in new directions.
In order to learn a new activity, or be a new way, we simply must start doing it. I once asked a friend, bilingual in English and Spanish, for the best way to learn Spanish. His reply was marvelous. “Jeff, if you want to learn to speak Spanish, I think you should speak Spanish.” That seems like a Catch- 22, but it stands to reason. You cannot learn to do something unless you do it. You must step into the shape that you want to exhibit, and just do it. Learn how to be that way while you develop competence.
To do this, take these steps.
Identify what you want to be like
Pick out a role model or two who exhibit the attributes you wish to adopt
Understand the things that they do to create these attributes and what you do to prevent yourself from them
Begin to adapt your life to include these key behaviors and associated thought processes.
See yourself as following the process every single time you begin the behaviors. Think yourself through the learning process. Feel what it is like to embody these behaviors. Enjoy the journey, and cheer yourself on.
Most of all, stick with it. Be kind to yourself through any learning process and have fun with it.