3 Radical Quotes That Will Change Your Life

Quote 1:  Be Brave Enough to Break Your Own Heart. -posted on Facebook by Amber Bradley Virgillo

Discussions regarding change typically talk about how difficult it may be.  How scary it may be when we are faced with the unknown.  Unfortunately, we associate change often times with leaving the bad and hoping the change will bring about the much wanted good we dream of.  This is not always the case.  Have you challenged yourself to leave what is good to reach what is great?

I took Amber’s quote to heart and asked myself, am I brave enough to break my own heart?  Initially I did not have a resounding YES as a response.  I pondered it.  Commended Amber for her bravery.  Then the job offer came in.  I could take a marketing job and leave my much loved career of teaching middle school language arts.  I have devoted my entire professional endeavors to mastering the art of teaching.  I even earned my masters, so I would be well rounded in my skill set to inspire kids to be their best.  To dream.  To believe they could achieve their dreams.

I sucked in all the bravery I could muster, broke my heart, and accepted the marketing job.

As I packed my teaching boxes and sorted the items, my heart was breaking.  I held the tears in, but I just wanted to bawl like a baby.  I am so going to miss the ridiculous impulsive things these hormonally challenged students do.  I am so going to miss the chance to be that one person the student has who believes in them.  Who sees the good in them.  Who won’t let them disappear in the crowd, but demands their very best.  I am going to miss those big dopey smiles when the kids achieve and their own perspective of themselves changes.  I am a teacher at heart, but I need to be brave enough to leave the good and strive for the great.

The new job is the great I am hoping for.  It offers financial freedom to provide for my family.  It challenges me to learn new skill sets and reach my full potential.  So I will pass the challenge onto you, are you brave enough to break your own heart and start a new chapter in your life’s story?

Quote 2: Struggling and suffering are the essence of a life worth living.  If you’re not pushing yourself beyond the comfort zone, if you’re not demanding more from yourself – expanding and learning as you go – you are choosing a numb existence.  You’re denying yourself an extraordinary trip.  –Dean Karnazes

Humans by nature are drawn to being comfortable.  We naturally avoid being uncomfortable, yet as this quote so eloquently reminds us…if we pursue being comfortable instead of accepting struggle and suffering we miss out on a worthwhile life.  We do cut ourselves short of growing and maturing into the fullness of ourselves.  We limit our potential when we settle for being comfortable.  If we become comfortable for too long we start to become numb.  Numbness no longer prompts us to change or improve situations.  We become passive.  No longer infused with passion or hunger for more in life, we slowly slip away.  So don’t labor to be comfortable, work to struggle for a life worth living.

Quote 3: If you can’t fly, run. If you can’t run, walk.  If you can’t walk, crawl… –Martin Luther King, Jr.

Forward progress is our only option no matter what.  Don’t judge yourself if your progress is slow, recognize you are still moving forward.  I use this often when I am running.  I remind myself, I am moving forward.  Each step is closer to the finish.  Closer. Closer. Closer.  What we know of momentum helps our forward progress, for once in motion we are more likely to remain in motion.  Just crawling even walking can be so discouraging.  We can doubt that we will ever arrive at the finish line.  Recognize the progress you are making, even if it is just getting out of bed.  Keep moving, for you will eventually fly again.

Week 7 & 8 WO:  Week 2 and 3 of training complete.

Please visit the attached link for the charity I am racing for:  http://www.scope.org.uk/  To donate please go to: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/lelandlearns

Thank you for the support!!


Week 6: 5 Essential Strategies For Your Lazy Brain

That is right. Our brains are lazy. Even though our brains burn 20% of the calories we consume, it loves to be lazy. So how do we put our lazy brains to work?

Keep Momentum

Science offers guidance to understanding that once something is in motion it remains in motion. While traveling in the UK, I was conversing with a family member of some friends. I had asked her how she was doing. She quipped, “Have to keep moving… because if I stop, I won’t start again.” I giggled at the complexity of the wisdom so smartly articulated in one statement.

For example, if we immediately exit the bed in the morning, we are more likely to keep forward momentum throughout the morning, even the day. But after a few snooze button festivals, reflecting on the impending ‘to-do’ list, we most likely will find it harder and harder to get out of bed. Often times we mistake this lethargy for sadness, depression, or hopelessness. Wrong! It is our brain happily being lazy. When you stay in bed, it doesn’t have to work. Your lazy brain doesn’t care which conclusions you come to thus keeping yourself in bed, it just knows it won’t have to work.  If you are active and attacking the day, it too has to match your same efforts and energy. This is work it does not want to do.

Get Conscious

Non-conscious thinking is 90 to 95 percent of our thoughts. We are only aware of less than ten percent of our thoughts! For efficiency sake our brains need to be able to shuffle cognitive tasks to the unconscious, but our brain is being efficient to be lazy, not to take on more work. Every now and then check in with your thoughts. Become aware of what you are thinking and your emotional climate. Often in the midst of routine tasks, we may notice an increase in anxiety or sadness. Stop. Take a brief moment and replay what you were just thinking. You might be surprised what your routine thought pattern had just been playing. Take control of that unconscious thought and rewrite it with a self-affirming action oriented statement. Let’s say you caught your brain thinking ‘what-if’ they reject my proposal? Restate the thought, regardless of my proposal’s acceptance, I am smart and capable.

Thought Ruts

I liken our thinking to a old vinyl records. Our thought records could be great and uplifting or negative and filled with doubt. These thought records go round and round in our minds building ruts in our brain’s neuro pathways. Just like country dirt roads become rutted and nearly impossible to traverse outside of the rut, so do our thoughts. If we have become accustomed to negative thinking or self-destructive thinking then those negative rutted thoughts are that much harder to bounce out of. Just like yanking the steering wheel to one side to escape the imprisonment of the rut, so must we yank our thoughts to one side. We pave new pathways in our minds as we become conscious of the thought and restate the thought. So first we have to take control of the driving thoughts, and second, we have to think new thoughts to build new positive grooves for our thinking.

Push Gently

Being aware that our brains are lazy by nature is key to having patience with ourselves. Applying all these techniques of making success a habit, giving your future self a voice, I have been pushing my brain, my thought life during my IM training. I am learning that I need to delicately manage the building of my new thought roads.

Case in point, I was in the middle of a spinning class. I was not into it and overwhelmed at the workout schedule ahead of me in the next four months. The best way to describe it…I flat lined my brain. I was taking myself through the, ‘I can. I will. I am strong. I am healthy.’ mantras. My legs and breathing were just fine. Studio music stinky, but still there was music! I could have ridden forever, but my brain was tired.

I have put my brain to work at a level it is not used to. Hysterically, I probably have only used an additional one percent from the standard ten, but as far as my brain knows, it has been working harder than ever before. I burst out crying. Right there in the middle of spin class, my little lazy brain threw a proper two-year old temper tantrum. My brain was sick of working and did not want to have to do it anymore. I had my little cry, and I finished the spin class. My brain even pouted the next day during a run. ‘I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to have to work. I want to be lazy!’ I finished my run, but I was frustrated. I am only in the middle of week one of official training, and I can’t run for 40 minutes!?! But then I realized, my body is fit to do the work. I just have to give my brain the same kind of grace and patience to become fit as well.

Brain Champions

Champions aren’t born, I really do believe champions are made. I told my spoiled, lazy brain, we are going to do this. Brain, you will learn to think like a champion the same way my body is learning to perform like a champion. As a result, I finished my 2,100 meter swim and 40 minutes of bike sprint intervals yesterday, happily! I am so proud of my brain learning to think like a champion!

WO: Week 1 of IM training complete!

Please visit the attached link for the charity I am racing for: http://www.scope.org.uk/ To donate please go to: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/lelandlearns

Thank you for the support!!

Week 5: Making Success a Habit

Finished my last week of pre-conditioning. I am back home from the UK for three weeks. The physical and emotional shifting between households can be difficult. But once again I am reminded that with change also is the opportunity to learn what we can tolerate. I am increasing my mental stamina to be uncomfortable. Swam 100 laps and rode 50 miles for one workout, I am proud of me!!

I have observed an interesting mental journey that seems to transpire when one is put under distress. I am discovering that if you can navigate through the three stages of struggle, success does become a habit.

How Do You Listen to Yourself?

It is imperative to change how you listen not only to others but also to yourself. Do you listen for the negative or the positive? Do you listen for inadequacy or achievement? How can you tell which type of listener you are?

While listening to unpleasant news do you begin to brace yourself for failure and rejection? Or do you ask yourself what can I learn from the changing situation or how can I help? Both scenarios, as a listener you are hearing distressing news, but your response and the effects of how you listen will dramatically affect your recovery from the news.

How Do You Manage Goal Acquisition?

There are three prominent stages we traverse during goal acquisition. The first stage is the inspired stage. We are fortified with inspirational quotes, praise from comrades and peers commending us on our tremendous goals we have set for ourselves. This is the easiest stage to manage. We are full of optimism and inspired, the amount of effort expended at this point is minimal. You feel strong and ready to achieve the end result.

Stage two emerges though once we set out to achieve our goal. We have invested some work, made a few personal sacrifices, but the goal is not yet reached. How do you manage yourself when you begin to tire? When you become uncomfortable and your biggest enemy of goal acquisition appears, doubt. Doubt slithers around the edges of our thoughts and begins to drive our thinking. We begin to question if we can. Do we even want our goal anymore? What does it matter?

Who Do You Believe?

First to counter this murky mental area, remind yourself of your goal’s finish line and bring your future self to the present. Second, do not distress and become anxious in what I have affectionately coined this doubting stage as ‘nomad’s land.’ It’s the time period where it is just a matter of hard work, and there is not an easy way around it. The work no one sees, the stress no one else pines over, and the burden of heavy loneliness that no one else carries. It is in this epic chasm of mental anguish where the habits of success are born. In this vast nomad’s mental torment, this desert, you master mental toughness. Reaffirm your goal, your wants, and re-decide ultimately recommit that you will wait out the discomfort in exchange for the affirming belief that your future self is telling the truth. This is what you want. This is where you want to be. This is worth working for. These are decisions where you are most honest with yourself. No one else knows, this is you learning to believe in you.

How Do You Coach Yourself?

As you coach and nurture yourself you generate action minded thinking. This is the positive, I can. I will. I am. Repeat these statements to yourself as many times as needed to ensure you keep moving forward to the finish line. I am ok. Everything always works out. Just give it time. Be patient. I am strong. I am healthy. I am learning. I am proud of you. That’s right. I am proud of you. Validate yourself. Recognize and affirm your efforts. These rich statements of belief and affirmation strengthen your productivity, distracts you from the present irritants, to a laser beam focus on your goal. I am achieving. Be patient with yourself as you adapt to this new mental scenery.

You set a new goal. You are experiencing new stimuli. Your mind, body, and spirit haven’t been in this space before. Allow yourself to look around. Disregard all the mental distractions zooming around and steady yourself on your path to the goal. This will not be the first time you are in this intense onslaught of pushing past what you were able to achieve prior, but as you breathe deeply and keep countering doubt and fatigue with action oriented self-affirming statements you will start to recognize that blissful feeling of success. Maybe your nomad’s desert last ten minutes. An hour. A day. A week. A year. Don’t give up. You are training to make success a habit. You are conditioning yourself to trespass the ordinary and comfortably perform in the extraordinary, every day. Rewrite your unconscious thinking during this nomad time. Turn positive action oriented thinking into routine thinking. Success slowly becomes your mental routine which makes success your new habit.

Welcome to Stage three. You just made yourself a believer IN you! Now you will not be deterred the next time you enter nomad’s land. Remember…I can. I will. I am.

Please visit the attached link for the charity I am racing for: http://www.scope.org.uk/ To donate please go to: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/lelandlearns

Thank you for the support!!

Week 4: Adopt a Winning Mindset

Everyone likes winning. It makes us feel good. We feel important and often times think we are better because of it. Does a winning mindset equal winning more often? Let’s see. Do you see obstacles as barriers to winning or opportunities to learn and grow?

If you tend to see obstacles as barriers you might be of a rigid mindset rather than a winning mindset.

Characteristics of a rigid mindset:

  • Seeing situations as confirmations of your abilities, talents, or aptitudes
  • Worrying constantly about proving your adequacy
  • Translating failure as the inability to prove your adequacy

A rigid mindset results in stagnant thinking because the person is consumed with only proving their talents or abilities they have not how they can develop them. This creates a crippling and destructive performance based thought cycle of anxiety. It is very stressful to constantly be burdened with proving one’s adequacy.

Characteristics of a winning mindset:

  • Seeing your abilities, talents, or aptitudes as a starting point, your ingredients for the desired success not the proof of success
  • Welcoming the situations that inspire greater effort, not fearing those situations will prove your inadequacy
  • Translating failure as an indicator of how you can grow, a learning opportunity not a threat to your adequacy
  • Pursuing learning because you believe with effort your talents and abilities are strengthened, not shown to be inadequate

Adopting a winning mindset creates momentum and an excitement to discover what one is capable of rather than a judgmental crippling cycle of trying to prove adequacy. An example of a winning mindset statement is, “I can, and I can’t wait to see how it will happen.” This curiosity and welcoming acceptance of the process dispels fear and incites positive receptivity to whatever circumstances may transpire.

I practiced a winning mindset on the bike this week. I rode three hours on the stationary bike just staring at a blank wall and pedaling. Instead of fearing whether or not I could prove my adequacy, I welcomed the excitement of what happens when I do finish.

When I finish what will I have learned about myself? I learned I need to take a slug of liquid about very 7-10 minutes. I learned I need to ‘eat’ something about every hour. I also learned that I can tolerate being uncomfortable and bored for an extended period of time. Much longer than I had previously thought. But the most insight I gained was how I had psyched myself out mentally on the bike months ago. The 112-mile Ironman bike ride had intimidated me. I was fearing whether or not I could even cross that distance. After pedaling 60 miles in one session, I realized I pedaled over half the distance necessary for race day. My rigid mindset had me losing before I even started the race.

By adopting a winning mindset I can finally relax. Deep breath. I just need to trust the process, remind myself of previous accomplishments when I feel unsure, maintain the positive self-talk and enjoy the wondrous journey of watching myself grow. I have nothing to prove, but everything to learn.

WO: 8 workouts logged

Please visit the attached link for the charity I am racing for: http://www.scope.org.uk/ To donate please go to: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/lelandlearns

Thank you for the support!!

Week 3: Overcoming Fear and Living in Success

Frustrated by not accomplishing what you have set out to do?  Fear might be the cause.  Fear is imagining what is yet to come, not what actually is happening. We worry something bad is going to happen. We unfortunately think that this worry will somehow prevent the feared scenario from happening. This anxious thinking though feeds a misperception or misjudgment of the current situation. Even though we may think we are fortifying ourselves and preventing a painful event, we are sadly willing it to happen. Our anxious thoughts increase the chances of what we fear to be a reality which is exactly the opposite of what we wanted our worry to accomplish. Entertaining fear separates us from living our life in the present, and we end up only living in what we have imagined in our minds.

We give fear credibility because fear pulls from our past experiences. We did not like the event/feeling the last time we encountered it, so we try to avoid it from happening again. This attempt to avoid the feared circumstance though smears its poison into our future. It doesn’t actually prevent the insult from reoccurring. The fear just cripples our chances to embrace the present and make new, positive experiences.

Some fears that often disconnect us from enjoying the present:

  • Being hurt
  • Being abandoned
  • Unmet needs
  • Being rejected
  • Losing our identity
  • Losing our security
  • Getting sick/terminal illness
  • Failing
  • Being alone

These fears can cause negative thinking. Dwelling on these negative thoughts undermines our confidence and blocks us from our dreams and aspirations. Fear imposes limitations upon our ability and potential. Fear is our low self-esteem in disguise which sustains feelings of self-doubt.

What if I fail? What if he rejects me? What if I can’t support myself? All of these questions are spawned from the mire of self-doubt, my fears. If I confidently believed I am worthwhile and capable, I would never dream of asking myself these questions. These questions are only asked because I fear the ‘what if’ rather than believing in the present, the reality not a murky possibility.

I pedaled away for two hours, instead of fearing not being able to finish my time. I recognized the now. I am pedaling. Time is passing. I am just fine. No need to fear what isn’t happening. What is happening in reality? I am finishing.

Remember, live now don’t imagine something that might happen tomorrow. Take away the power of fear in today. Give the power back to yourself in the present and build positive momentum for tomorrow.

WO: I logged my ten workouts this week.

Please visit the attached link for the charity I am racing for: http://www.scope.org.uk/ To donate please go to: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/lelandlearns

Thank you for the support!!

Week 2: Finding the Possible in the Impossible

Keeping your eye on the prize turns out to actually change your perceptions. Emily Balcetis, a social psychologist, conducted a study examining participants and their perceptions of exercise. Balcetis’s team found that if participants were told to only focus on the finish line in front of them and nothing else, participants’ perceptions of exercise changed.

-30% felt the finish line was closer

-17% thought it was easier even with carrying an additional 15% of their body weight, and

-23% went FASTER despite the additional weight

Balcetis’s findings remind us of a well-known truth that is easily forgotten. We all perceive the world differently even though we are viewing the same exact image. If we hone in on our focal point, we too can change our perceptions. No longer is a daunting task so daunting.

I needed to change my perception of my previous week of training. Due to work deadlines, instead of completing 8 workouts, I completed 3. What a miserable showing, in my opinion. When I changed my perception though, I realized I still maintained my fitness level with three workouts, my work deadlines were met, and I traveled safely to the UK…maybe not such a miserable showing after all.

Week 3 is off to a rocking start, so what can we conclude? Keep your eye on the finish line, and you’ll move faster and feel like reaching your goals is easier.

View Balcetis’s TedTalk, for more reasons why changing our perceptions could make the world a nicer and easier place.

WO: 1 mile swim, 1.3 mile run, 20 miles stationary bike