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Going the Distance

When I was seventeen years old, I discovered what I believed to be a truly life-changing movie.

You may be familiar with the 1989 movie, Field of Dreams, where Iowa farmer Ray Kinsella suddenly feels compelled to cut down his corn crop and instead build a baseball field.

Despite many setbacks, financial crises and doubt from everyone around him, he pursues his dream and ultimately succeeds in achieving the thing he most wanted – to play baseball with his father.

“If you believe the impossible, the incredible can come true.” 

This is the tagline from the film – and a principle I believe we can all benefit from.

So many times in my life things have seemed too hard, too uncertain, too unknown – when that crucial breakthrough was actually just around the corner.

In the communications work I do, so often I see clients worried about what colleagues, managers or peers will think of them if they make a mistake, say the wrong thing or fail to make a fantastic first impression.

So it’s important to focus on going the distance and taking a long view, rather than assuming the only outcome that matters is what happens next day or next week.

For example, when I’m helping clients learn a new way to structure a presentation or techniques for media interviews, it’s unlikely they’ll get it right first time.

But the key thing is to persevere and put the key techniques into practice every day – as this is the only way to ensure you’ll get it right in the long term.

I was reminded of this at the weekend when I watched my son take part in his first-ever basketball tournament for his local team.

He went out on court for the first time and was unsure of what to do, how to best help the rest of the team and what was expected of him.

So I’m sure he didn’t feel that great about things when he was substituted after 5 minutes.

However, to his credit, when he came back on to play later he had obviously learned from what went well – and what didn’t – the last time.

So he got stuck in straight away, running up and down the court with energy, focus and commitment.

Unsurprisingly, he scored a basket within the first minute.

With the ever-increasing pace we’re now all living and working at, with twenty-four hour rolling news, social media feeds and e-mails arriving every minute into our smartphones, it’s easy for us to think we need to get it absolutely right – instantly.

I know I can fall into this trap, especially when I feel under pressure at work or at home.

This is when it’s easier to avoid trying at all, rather than going for it and potentially falling short.

So I’m reminded of the words of Hercules in the 1997 Disney film, when he sings

“I can go the distance”

as he tries to find out where he truly belongs.

We’re all capable of going the distance – but what are the words we’re telling ourselves about this?

It’s mostly what we tell ourselves that will determine whether we succeed or fail.

I’ve been wrestling with a particular challenge in the last few months – for too long, I’ve ignored improving my physical fitness by telling myself I’m working too hard, too busy at home, too tired, too much else to do and all the usual excuses.

But I’ve finally decided enough is enough and instead started telling myself I can – and will – do this!

And by sharing this publicly with my colleagues, clients and friends, I’m deliberately making myself accountable to you all…

So, although it might take many months to work towards my goal, I’m determined to Go The Distance.

Photo credit: bknabel / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

2nd June 2015 Featured in: Blog By:

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